Howling roof racks

I am sure I have read it before on this site but could not find it in the archives. Any ideas about quieting down the Yakima rack on the roof of my Ranger pickup? I don’t really want a fairing/ $50.00 YAKIMA billboard on my vehicle. Thanks!

Is it the racks or the straps? If some straps are exposed for any length they will make a racket. If that’s the case put a half twist in the exposed straps and try again.


I’ve seen a few racks with …

– Last Updated: Oct-29-05 12:39 AM EST –

... a stiff sheet of something-er-other wrapped loosely around the bar. I suppose it's a stiff sheet of plastic with about the same flexibility as X-ray film, but the method of installation probably matters more than the material. Here's how it looks: Imagine bending a sheet of paper back on itself as if you were going to fold it exactly in half - but don't crease it - just match up the those opposite edges and leave the midsection of the paper curved. Now imagine what it would look like if you stapled the matched-up edges, as well as adjacent material up to several inches away from those edges. As seen from the side it looks like a teardrop with a trailing 'paper-thin' (ha-ha) tail.

When I've stuff like this wrapped around rack bars (the front bar - I've never seen one of these on the rear bar), the width of the sheeting (along the length of the bar) was never more than about 18 inches, and the distance from the bent-over curve in the sheet to the "stapled" (more likely glued) edges was about 6 or 8 inches. I wish I could tell you how well this works, but I've seen it enough times that I think it must do the job in some cases.

foam blocks
Haha, my passengers just complained about the howling rack the other day. Better put my foam blocks back on.

I bought a cheap kayak roof kit from Dick’s Sporting Goods for $20. It has cheapie foam blocks and a bunch of straps. When the foam blocks are on the crossbars I don’t get any howel. I just leave them on all the time even though I have Malone Autoloaders that my kayak sits in. I would say foam kayak blocks would look the best too.

Fairings are bad cause they create lift with a boat, plus they cost $50…

Wait a few years.
With age your hearing goes, and you won’t hear a thing.

Trust me, I don’t hear mine at all and I THINK they used to make a noise.



It “Sounds” like
memory is close behind.

My Thule racks either dont make noise or I just cant hear it.

happy paddling,


Yakima Windjammer for for $15
… does the trick. It too comes with a Yakima advertisement which I peeled off. You only need to put one on the front.

AgreedWhat Clarion said.
What Clarion said.


Foam pipe insulation
Seems to keep the bars quiet.

Thanks for the advice.
The Thule rack on my Explorer was quiet. I am half deaf already from years of firetruck sirens and airhorns but I sure do hear this new rack and it is not straps causing it… I will try all these ideas, starting with the simplest/ cheapest. Thanks again.

The only time my Yakima rack ‘howls’ is when I lose one of those plastic endcap thingies that go on the end of the round bars.


– Last Updated: Oct-31-05 7:51 PM EST –

Cheaper than pipe insulation, and not NEARLY as boringly standard equipment looking-like as the dull grey pipe stuff...

Not to be confused with strap thrum, the irritating noise emanating from straps nicely and neatly wrapped around your boat(s). THAT can be eliminated simply by putting a twist or two in the straps.

Pool (or swim) noodles come in multiple thicknesses and multiple colors and sometimes multiple shapes. That way, if you have a big red jeep Grand Cherokee like our taller hauler, you can put up red one (or appropriately spaced red & white ones) and folks will think you're an official vehicle and move over and let you by (yes, it really happened, LOL!).

Or you can put lime green ones on your Yakima bars like we now have, or orange ones we now have cladding the Thule bars on our smaller hauler, our Mazda6S SportWagon, and you can spot your vehicle easily in those vast mall, big box, or stadium parking lots.

Simply slit them down one side with a sharp kitchen knife, slip over the bars, and use clear packing tape to snug them up tight to the bars. Be sure to wrap them tight so they don't rotate on the bar, and turn away from the wind and catch it and bow out, causing a deep thrumming.

They last at least a full season in the hot UV-strong sun down here (in between hurricanes, of course) and are cheap and easy to replace.

They quiet the howl -and seat the boats well on the padded surfaces, and make life a lot easier on your ears just driving around town, and on your memory in big parking lots, as well as on the way to & from where you


-Frank in Miami

Howling or whistling?
Round bars tend to “roar and rumble” on my Suby. A missing end-cap whistles or howls like a gallon jug in a hurricane.

Time to get our definitions correct!


need more info …
Does it howl all the time, or only when loaded, or only when empty?

the curse of the straight strap
A friend of mine borrowed his BIL’s kayak for a week end camping trip ;). As we are getting ready to leave I was talking to him and checking over the kayak on top of his car. I guess I made a face at the nice straight, neat, flat straps. “What’s wrong?” he says. I tell him “well, I always put a twist in my straps to keep the noise down, experience has taught me”.

Well he procedes to tell me that his BIL said to keep the straps flat, he no noise on the way to the campsite, etc(of course he was in traffic most of the time). What ever. We leave the camp site, get on a state highway, go about 5 miles, I get caught at a light, he goes through, see ya later. A few mile farther down the road, I see him off the road, messing with the straps holding the kayak on the car, so I stop get out to offer what ever help he needs, he give me a nasty look, and starts telling me how I put the wammy on him for mentioning the strap noise in the first place. I wasn’t much help laughing my tush off on the side of the road like a demented kayaking fiend.

Turn up the radio
My Thule bars generate noise when empty, not when the saddles are installed.

howling solution
I believe it is the aerodynamics of two roof racks. The air is travelling in streamlines and sets up a whistling. What you need to do is get the air flow more turbulent. This is very easy - just roughen the foward bar somewhat. You could:

wrap a piece of string around it

put a bead of caulking on it

wrap elastic around

or use pipe insulation (an earlier suggestion).

I have the same rack, and each of these solutions works.

There is a post on this at another board
Over at there are many suggestions to this problem also.

Need to disturb the air - easy solution
I had the same problem with the Yakima racks on my /05 Outback wagon. An aeronautics engineer suggested that I wrap a cheap bungee cord around each cross bar. I picked up a couple of black cords at Home Depot and they work like magic! Not only that, they don’t stand out visually.


I filled mine with sand
The increase in mass drastically reduced the noise.