Help! Rack denting my car's roof!

I’ve had the same brand of rack (Saris) for 3 years and love them. I just got a new car (well, not “new”, just new to me). So I got a set of new bars and 2 sets of clips. I put the rack on, put my bike on it and drove for less than 2 hours…

When I took the rack off, the roof had a pair of matching dents where the feet of the racks were!!!

Don’t know what went wrong. Has this happen to anyone else? Anyone had idea what might caused it? Like I said, I’ve used the same brand of identical racks before on a different car without any of such problem.

Now, I’m hesitant to put my boats on the rack. The bike only weights 25 lbs. The boat weights 55!!! Will the roof collapes or what???

Saris quit
There was too much R&D needed to fit modern cars. Saris had about 30 different clip designs while Yakima ha 140ish and Thule about 250. Yakima and Thule already held the majority of the roof market that Saris bowed out of the roof rack market 3-4 years ago.

It doesn’t surprise me that your Saris rack dented your car. Their racks were too universal and never took into consideration the physical build of a car.

U recommend investigating what the fit, crossbar spread, and weight limit that Yakima and Thule suggests for their racks. That might assist you in a better placement of your own rack. But really, I’d move away from Saris racks and towards one of the Bit Two if protecting your car from damage is that important.

Good info, Nermal. Denting from
Yakima or Thule towers is unusual. I’ve had three Accords with Yakima towers and never a dent.

From the sometimes peculiar tower placement and bar spacing of Yakima racks, I might infer that Yakima either got the engineering specs of the Accord roof metal, or tore one apart to find out. If it didn’t matter, they sure could have placed the towers on my '08 Accord in a better (for me) spot. They must know where the strong points are.

Are you saying your rack comes with indication on WHERE exactly on the roof the feet must be located?

I can see both Yakima and Thule supports my car. So it appears the roof is IN GENERAL consider strong enough to carry racks AND BOATS!

Where would I find the information on rack placement on a specific car if that’s the case?

secret fitter

This fitter will tell you the “M” measurements for a Yakima rack and even has photos of many of the racks on specific cars.

Here’s a link to Q-tower instructions so you can understand “M” measurements.

(click on the ‘Instructions’ tab to open the PDF)

The problem isn’t the weight of the boat

– Last Updated: May-12-10 11:20 AM EST –

You over-tightened the rack, which is pretty easy to do, as the Saris clamping system is pretty powerful. I did the same thing with my Saris rack. Now that the damage is done, relax, as there's nothing you can do about it. Newer cars may have thinner sheet metal to save weight or it may simply be a difference in the structure between your vehicles. You generally want to set the rack out as far to the edges of the roof as possible, as that's where the "safety cage" construction is and it's the strongest, stiffest part of the roof.

Now that I know how tight my rack needs to be, I've had no more problems. I've hauled heavy loads of wood and recently a dresser that weighed ~150 pounds, with no problems and no damage to the car.

In my experience, the best way to tighten a Saris rack is to:

- Turn the knob until the rack is snug and the clips are in their proper position.

- Tighten one turn, then attempt to wiggle the rack.

- If it doesn't feel solid on the roof, tighten another turn and check again.

- When the rack feels solid, stop and lock the knobs.

Once you've established the correct tension, when take rack off, just loosen it the same number of turns each time (mine requires 7 turns in order to remove it) and when you reinstall it, tighten it the same amount. Also, mark your racks front and rear, so you don't mix them up. It's pretty foolproof from there on.

I think the Saris is probably the best roof rack out there (much better than Yakima or Thule) and it's a real shame that they got out of the market. It goes on and off the car quickly, so I never leave it on when I don't need it, which saves gas and makes the car quieter. The T-slot system makes it really easy to make custom attachments like paddle cases and switching attachments is a breeze. I've even adapted other brands of attachments to it. I hope they reintroduce it someday.

Poor fit is not likely to be the issue
The Saris rack feet conform just fine to a wide variety of roof shapes and have plenty of surface area. The issue is that the clamping system can generate a lot of clamping pressure, enough to dent a roof if you’re not careful. It doesn’t take as much effort to get it sufficiently tight as it does with other brands of racks, so once can easily over-tighten it. I learned this the hard way, but I still wouldn’t trade my Saris rack for anything that Yakima or Thule make, as IMO, it’s a better product.

Not specified
Not M2 measurement for my car. Only M4, which is the between bar spread…

I gather this means anywhere on the roof, and as much spread as one can stretch it.

what car



Does it have a factory rack?

what’s done is done, forget it

You maybe right in that!

The clips for my previous car fits the door frame very securely. So there’s no way to over-tighten the rack. It simply stopped by the door frame.

But the new clips, while it’s SUPPOSED to be the best fit for my car, doesn’t stop even when the rack is sitting solid on the roof! I just didn’t realize that!!! :frowning:

Maybe that’s why Saris is getting out of the roof rack business? Roof demage in some configuration???

I was previously quite impressed by the Saris rack. But this particular clip geometry left me very un-impressed.

While the instructions could be better…
…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the design. I suspect you’re right about why they’re not making them anymore, though I’ve seen rood damage from other brands of racks, too. Unless and until I buy a car that I can’t get the rack to work on, I’m sticking with it as I still like it much better than Thule or Yakima racks.