Honda Odyssey, racks and tie downs

-- Last Updated: Jul-04-06 2:22 PM EST --

My wife’s Honda Odyssey minivan has a factory roof rack, just rails running front to back, no crossbars. The rails are fairly heavy duty, but there is some play between the rails and the posts. Yakima “chose my rack” recommends LowRiders on the factory rails. Anyone else hauling kayaks this way on top of an Odyssey? If so, have the rails held up ok?

If I had more money than I knew what to do with, I would have a body shop remove the factory rails and put Yakima tracks on the roof, and then use Yakima landing pads. I am going to see what that cost. It's probably pretty expensive as I think you have to drop the headliner to do it right.

A related problem with the Odyssey is that there is just one tie down hook in the front of the vehicle, center, and about 18” underneath.. Then there’s something I could tie to at the rear, about 24” underneath, and to the driver’s side, not center. The front and back bumpers are all shielded with plastic, like a lot of modern vehicles. I think there are tube steel bumpers under the plastic. Not straight forward to bolt on some tie down hooks because you can’t see through the plastic. Annoying. If anyone has dealt with this, let me know. I will also check on a Honda newsgroup.

Paul S.

front tie downs
I have a strap coming out of my engine campartment on both sides of the hood. I tie to those and when not needed I tuck them in under the hood. They give a nice wide stance for the tie downs. I suggest you open your hood and see where you can tie or bolt in a strp on either side. In my saturn and S-10 there are lots of holes suitable to tie to. For a strap I use "Mule tape which is a kevlar strap about 7 mm wide that i picked up from scout camp.

I do not use rear tie downs as a general rule in my cars/ do not notice weather the rope has come lose then if you back up on the rope bad things happen.

no problem
i’ve used an odyssey for hauling a couple of 21’ boats for the last year or so, including driving from atlanta to rochester, mn. i have low-riders, malone j cradles and an old, old set of yakima cradles. i have never noticed any “play” in the factory rails at all- maybe you should have that looked at. i tend not to use front or rear tie downs, but when i do, i haven’ noticed any problem with tying to the thing under the front hood. no idea where you would tie to the rear.


Odyssey Rack Durability

– Last Updated: Jul-03-06 8:09 AM EST –

Our '97 Odyssey (first generation) factory racks have given no problems. We have Thule load bars which clamp on to the factory racks (not the crossbars). This has proved very satisfactory.

Our '96 Odyssey (destroyed by deer collision) had no factory racks. So I installed the Thule tracks directly to the roof of the vehicle. Then the load bars clipped on to the tracks; very slick. Again no difficulties.

I know you said Yakima and I have reported Thule. Not an endorsement of one and criticism of the other. Just what I have. And my experience with the factory racks.

One proviso: I don't put my boats up on top any longer. I have a small utility trailer (Snowbear) which I have modified to carry 4 kayaks and 1 bike (or 2 kayaks and 3 bikes). I installed a receiver hitch on the '97 Odyssey. I did so not because of any difficulties with either Honda or Thule racks. I'm old enough that picking up a 60 pound kayak, lifting it up over my head and throwing it onto the J-saddles (by myself) reminds me of how old enough I am getting.

2003 odyssey

– Last Updated: Jul-03-06 10:28 AM EST –

I specifically did not want the roof rails and thought the yakima with the towers would be best bet for kayaks/canoes. Unfortunately, the span between the front and back rack is very minimal due to the limited areas you can put the towers on. I wish I would have had the rails so i could have more options on rack spacing. The Yakima with marco saddles have worked well for my composite kayak and the gunnel brackets are the best thing in the world for transporting a canoe.

Since the spacing on rack is limited I have to tie bow and stern for boats longer than 14'. I opened the hood and put two loops of cord tied with a fisherman's knot at either end where there was an area in the frame to do so. In the back I found two D rings when I opened the back door on either side of the interior and did the same making sure the cords would be long enough when I closed the hood and rear door to tie bow/stern lines t.

gpasek, congrats on the tracks.
Did you use the female threaded anchors from the outside where you use the spreader tool to install them, or did you drop the head liner and put nuts on from the inside?

I’m gonna definitely put tracks on my Toyota Solara (slightly off topic). I was concerned about how well the anchors would work, and whether I’d damage my head liner if I didn’t drop it first. I tend to make things to difficult though, in trying to go for the prefect solution. If I would just go for the anchors from outside, I could install it myself.

Interested to hear what you did.

Paul S.

there are times when I just enjoy good discussion here, and times when I get great information! I didn’t really expect a response to this one, but I guess there’s enough Odysses on the road, and they’re great for camping too.

So some of you are using straps from under the hood and inside the back door. I was a little worried about torching or deflecting the doors, but they’re pretty solid, and it works for you, and all but in an incident (hopefully never) they are just safety tie downs and are only snug, not high tension. I found the two L (I think) pillars in the front under the hood. I only found little plastic hooks inside in the back, but the posts for the rear fold-down bench seat are very sturdy and should work great. Good solution. Thanks!

On the issue of a little play between the rails and the posts, it’s only at the back post on each side. It doesn’t seem week; it’s just a little play. I will ask a Honda shop about it. The low riders and bars may stabilize that too.

More comments welcome of course, either validating this approach or suggesting others.

Paul S.

Thule Track Installation
I just followed the directions, drilled holes, used the spreader etc.

I never even considered dropping the headliner; no experience with that.

There were no problems with the installation. We had that set up for about 2 years, before a large mule deer buck jumped in front of wife and daughter. Speed was 65, car totalled.

I still have the cross bars and fittings. They are just sittling on a shelf in the garage. Want 'em?

We just got …
a new Odyssey last summer with factory racks. We haul a 17’ canoe which doesn’t help you much. However, we use the Thule cross bars with the rack which works well. We tie down the front and back with quick release straps (like the NRS straps). I’m in the process of getting the straps that pull out from under the hood. I’m thinking of making them myself with a good 1 inch nylon strap and some grommets. There are bolts on the inside of the hood that are easily accessable to use. Right now, I bring the 2 strap hooks down over the front of the hood and hook onto a metal frame that’s actually in the grill section. (I pad the straps that touch the hood) Hence why I need to get the staps that go under the hood. The back staps hook into holes that have been pre drilled into the frame on each side underneath. Good luck…

All done

– Last Updated: Jul-04-06 2:23 PM EST –

Got my lowriders and 20 ft of 1" military grade tube strap, I think it's called, last night at at REI. Stopped at Home Depot on the way back and picked up pipe insulation and electric tape.

Woke up at 5 AM this morning. Cut my bars down from 58" (form my pickup truck days) to about 50", put the insulation on the bars, electric taped them, installed the lowriders. That little bit of play between the rails and post is completely gone when I tightened up the low riders.

For tie downs in the front, there's holes right in the metal just under the front edge of the hood, about 3/8 or 1/2". I just put the strap through, then doubled it and tied a simple knot. The knot is about 1" and stops the strap behind the hole. Then I did the same loop back and simple knot for a loop on the other end.

In the back, I took about 6 ft of strap and did the same loop back and knot on each end. Made a lassoo (sp?) around the rear bench seat post. Done.

This is geat. Thanks for your suggestions. Helped alot.

Paul S.

I’m kind of partial to Yakima
But if you’re giving 'em away, I might make an exception ;-).

Paul S.