Lowering kayak height on car roof

hello, i ve moved house & now find i cant drive with my kayak to where i need to park it. it would need another 2 inches clearance from ceiling.

I was considering lowering my tyres for last segment but then I recall reading here posts warning about ratchet straps, that they might distort your boat. currently I use cam straps, not ratchet straps.

distorting the boat would give me the extra clearance.
for ppl who know someone who overtitghtened his / her boat with ratchet straps, was there any permanent damage done?

my kayak is a pretty beaten up PE poly perception.

The several times I have seen ratch straps causing damage to fiberglass and plastic kayaks, the damage has been permanent. Only reason damage happens is the user wants to “tighten” the straps to secure the kayak better, however too many actually overtighten. I watched my cousin break his CD Solstice using ratchet straps. Keep using your cam straps.

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the other option i was considering, was removing the roof rack and putting in foam blocks like this example

does anyone here have experience with these? can you actually tighten them enough without pushing the car roof down? do the blocks scratch the roof? thanks


If you only need to save an inch or two, you could try carrying the kayak upside down. That saves the extra height that the upswept bow and stern provide when the boat is carried upright.
Based on my own experience, I’m wary of foam blocks just sitting on the roof. Since nothing is fixing them in place, they can shift even if strapped down pretty tightly.


I think this is great advice of @OldEagle . The only other thing we don’t know is what you are trying to get under and if it can be altered to give you more room.

Perhaps we could help you better if we knew more about the situation. Is is that you have to fit the car + kayak into a garage or parking structure, low hanging trees (which could be trimmed) etc?

I wouldn’t try the straps unless you want an odd shaped and ill-performing boat. And I wouldn’t air-down my tires. I can see that causing other problems leading to an accident in the car.

How about removing the boat from the roof just before you get to your spot and using a kayak dolly to finish the trip to wherever you store the boat?

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Probably the best advice right there. Much better and easier than deflating tires or using foam blocks and wrenching down on straps and potentially damaging the boat to try and gain a few inches clearance.

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Try setting the boat upside down on your rack to see how much height you can lose. It used to be that on the Tsawwassen ferry you had to pay a surcharge for over height and could only be loaded on the bottom deck where there was plenty of height. That made the cost to and from Vancouver Island more costly and also meant that you might miss a ferry due to available “high” spaces. Loading the boats upside down bought us some inches and solved that problem.

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Don’t use a rack with cross bars, use a yoga pad for cushion and anti slip, and carry hull side up. If still not enough clearance you need a different car or different boat!

Or build a new garage with 10ft high doors.

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When traveling at turnpike speed, I secure my 21 ft. long surfski with three 20 ft. long straps: two straps in front and one at rear. All straps loop around the ski with bitter ends and cam buckle terminating inside the car, directly under the headliner. The ski rests firmly, deckside down, on two contoured shaped foam pads and the three loops help reduce wind yaw.

I secure a pink or orange flag/banner at the tail of the ski for safety, and also add a twist to the side straps for noise control.

Watch out for descending ramps at shopping malls, and multistory garages with low pipes, lights and different height floors,

If the height is only an issue when you enter the garage and not while you are in the garage, here is what I do:

I pull up to the edge of the garage door, then loosen the two straps in the middle of the kayak holding it to the roof rack. Then I loosen the rear stern strap, and tighten down on the front row strap, pulling in to the garage about halfway. Then I get out of the car release the bow strap, and pull down on the stern strap so I can get in to the garage the rest of the way then release both bow and stern straps.

Not pretty, and a bit of a pain in the ass , but if I’m coming in late one day from the water and plan to go out again the next day. It sure beats all the hassle on taking the kayak off the car and storing it in the garage and then reloading it again the next morning.

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I would not try overtightening the straps or messing with the air in my car’s tires.

I have tried those foam pads on the roof of my Yaris, and yes they did scratch the paint, plus they dented the roof as well, though not permanently. I also had a problem with them blowing off the car before I could get the kayak onto them on a windy day.

I ended up buying a set of cheap roof racks (Amazon marketplace) that works using straps through the inside of the car. They are lower than the Yakima rack system I forgot to bring with me last fall, but I would not trust them at freeway speeds nor with the J-rack type of attachment (for whatever reason, those apparently overstress the bars). And I cannot lower the sun visors while these are in place (the strap is in the way). But they’re OK for now. I should add that I am using them in Arizona, so don’t know whether rainwater would wick in on the straps and get the car’s interior wet.

It’s annoying, but we pull up in front of our garage on our driveway and take the kayaks off the car, carry them into the garage and put them of their walk rack holders, then drive the car in.

We also put a chair or something just inside the garage door to remind us that we can’t just drive in.


IF…the only barrier to success is the garage door itself, please note that most sliding doors can be manually pushed up another few inches. A long 2x4, cut-to-fit, can be placed on one or both door edges and gain you the additional clearance that you need.

Randall, did you see richg99’s suggestion? I’d be curious to know if that worked. Sure would be sweet if it did!

thx for all the suggestions. my garage door is a bit diffetent. it cant be rolled up further.

the easiest solution might be getting another brand of kayak.

the problem is , i cant find the messurememts needed on manufacturers websites to calculate clearance . at least to make a shotlist. then i would finish off by making a template to check fit beforr i buy

Forget all that. Replace your car with something with an air suspension…Audi allroad, Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne. With the push of a button you can raise or lower the car 2-3 inches.

Or go pneumatic. The Citroen Maserati gets pretty squat on full low setting. Don’t know whether Thule makes a kit for it tho. :slight_smile:

hmmm. you might be on to something here.

how much weight ( sand bags or even adult passengers ) would i need inside the car to lower it by 2 inches?