FYI: Roof Rack Capacities

-- Last Updated: Jul-30-04 10:36 AM EST --

Did a little research yesterday since new vehicles were on topic. Here's what I found out. Please feel free to add to the list or dispute the numbers if your documentation states different. These figures are for 04/05 models.

Chevy Avalanche:...100 lbs
Ford Explorer:........100 lbs
Ford SporTrac:.......100 lbs
Subaru Outback:....100 lbs
Subaru Forester:....150 lbs
Dodge Durango:.....150 lbs

for a 99 Toyota 4Runner
100 lbs…


Factory rack Vs. Accessory rack
Most factory racks are near useless for all intents and purposes and usually have a weight capacity of 100#. If you purchase an accessory rack like Thule or Yakima, not only will they be more versatile, but they will increase your load capacity. For example, my Explorer was 100# from the factory, and is now 165# with my Yakima rack.

I know for a fact that it will support more than that. Last summer, I had 2 rec boats and an extended Loadwarrior basket on top. I (155#) stood in the basket and loaded it up with at least another 50# of gear. That’s more than 300# total not including the Loadwarrior or kayak cradles. That being said, I would not drive with that much weight up there. Every pound above the axles raises your center of gravity and increases your chances of rolling when turning, leaning on slopes, etc. And, each pound will exponentially have more leverage on the vehicle the higher it is.


Yes, I understand
But if a manufacturer allows only 100# and I put 120# up there on my Thule bars, that’s my problem when it comes apart. But if they rate for 150# and it pulls out of the roof, it’s their problem. I plan to buy a new vehicle based in part on that factory rack rating.


Sorry about the broken record here…
I’ve said this a few times in the last couple of weeks on different threads. If you’re like me though, you don’t read them all, so here goes: Yakima IS the “authorized” maker for Ford, Mitsubishi, and other’s accessory racks and is covered under warranty. GM, Sukuki, and others use Thule/Mont Blanc as their authorized accessory rack vendor. Check with the dealer for whatever vehicle you decide on. In most cases, you can even get the accessory rack with all the canoe/kayak/bike/gear/ski carriers rolled into the purchase of the vehicle. It may be worth your while.

I don’t think so…
If a manufacturer rates the rack at 100lbs (like my 99 4Runner), and I attach my Yakima rack to their roof rack, then the rating drops from the 100lbs - (the weight of the rack). However, I purchased the Yakima rack and attachments that connect directly to the car above the door jambs. Thus…the rating is now 150 lbs. as indicated by Yakima…which is totally separate from the Toyota factory specs.

It is also important to know that I went to a ‘reputable’ local kayak dealer…well known in the area. One of the salesman who has been there for years suggested I purchase the Yakima attachments that would tie into the factory rack. I explained to him that if attached to the factory rack I would be limited by the 100 lb. capacity indicated by Toyota…and that my Tempest 170 and VCP Skerray together weighed at least 120 lbs. He said “Not to worry…we do it all the time”. I went elsewhere.

I then went to another well known and prominent kayak shop where I purchased the Yakima rack (at a greater discount) with attachments to the car itself (not the factory rack). Without going into too much detail, the owner and a salesman suggested I use the straps over the bar without going through the roof attachment, which is contrary to the Yakima directions and warned against on their website. They had recommended this as to carry both of my 22" boats side by side on Yakima horizontal racks.

They are wrong, and just because they also “always do it that way”…there is significant risk for slippage of the strap if not looped through the attachment to the roof.

So…I am using a Yakima rack and Malone Auto-loader…which is great!

Sorry about the long message…but we really need to check out these safety issues and NOT rely upon dealers/salesman because their insurance will NOT be impacted nor will they be responsible if our boat flies off of the roof into another vehicle.


I agree and didn’t want to start anythin
g up…just wanted to get some specs.

you are right that if you connect your aftermarket parts to the OEM rack, you need to subtract that weight from the OEM capacity. Otherwise, it’s whatever Thule/Yakima states.

I’d like to see this list grow so if anyone else has numbers, please post them.

Thanks all.


Mini Coopers
Can come with factory racks rated at 175 LBS

Use tie downs folks…
theres no reason not too…

Thule load limit for OB and Passat
I recently asked Thule directly about the load limit of their system for the 2005 Outback and Passat and here is the response:

Response (HECTOR CSR)

07/14/2004 03:17 PM

The load limit for both vehicles with a Thule rack would be 165lbs. Thank you for your inquiry.

Customer (Avi Ziv)

07/12/2004 06:05 PM

What is the roof rack load limit for the 2005 Subaru Outback Wagon and also for the 2004 Passat Wagon?

This seems to imply that when you attach the Thule cross bars to the factory side rails, the limit increases. Do you see any problem with that? This is a common question because many of us need a way to carry two sea kayaks on our cars and this tops 100lb and can get closer to 140lb depending on the boat.


Yep those darn europeans
seem to spec their factory racks out with the idea that they might be used for something. Audi Mercedes BMW etc tend to have very high ratings.

No engineers here, huh?
The limits put on the “rack” is primarily the limit of the top of the vehicle. If you put a couple of hundred pounds of weight on the roof of a car, especially a SUV, whattaya think that does to your center of gravity? It’s a lawyer number more than anything, but given the stupidity of your average driver in relation to vehicle limitations, they gotta do it.