I'm currently driving a WRX sedan. Anyone who's driven this car knows that ALL of the money went into the frame, engine, and transmission... the rest of the car is no frills including the tin foil body panels. Despite the fact that my boats weigh less than the max load for the rack I have (I weighed both of them with the hatch covers) and the fact that I don't over-tighten the feet, the body panels have caved (especially towards the rear) making it nearly impossible to mount the rack anymore.
I believe the reason for this is the tiny 25" maximum spread between the load bars. Even though I use bow AND stern tie downs always, the boats will still pitch when going over a bump. I believe this is what's doing the damage. Combine that with the fact that I live in New England and frequently drive in Massachusetts which seems to hire the most incompetent highway construction companies they can find and well... it's a problem.
So I'm shopping for a new vehicle, one that would be a good kayak mobile. I've settled in on the Mazda 3 wagon. Yakima claims that you can get a 40" spread between the load bars on the Mazda 3 wagon without the extender kit. I test drove one yesterday and looked at the roof line and honestly, I don't see how that's possible.
I just wanted to see if there were any Mazda 3 wagon owners here that could confirm or deny this, and if you're denyin' what's the max spread you can get on the load bars?
Had I only known I was going to become addicted to kayaking when I bought my WRX 6 years ago..... sigh. LOL
By Mazda 3 Wagon do you mean the Mazda 3 5-door? Google doesn’t turn up a listing for a 3 Wagon where as there is a 5 Wagon and a 6 wagon. What year Mazda 3 are you considering?
The Mazda 3 5 door has a 32inch spread, but a 125 lbs load limit. I wouldn’t even carry that much. I do lots and lots of rack installs and the MAzda 3 5door is one of the worst cars to rack from both Yakima and Thule. Even a dialed-in fit seem scetchy. I would recommend bolting tracks to the roof and using Yakima’s Landing Pad/Control Tower system. Myc more secure.
If you are trading vehicles because your Subaru will not carry a rack anymore, you could always bolt that too. A new rack is cheaper than a new car. I recommend tracks instead of single towers as they look more factory and spread out the load over a wider roof area.
If this helps the numbers work for a different car - we found out that the deal you can get on a new Outback or Lagacy wagon for being an ACA member is for real. For our family membership, we got a car for 2% under invoice plus an additional gift certificate for getting one off the lot. Had we wanted to game local dealerships against each other rather than stay with the one we picked, we could have moved it down another couple of hundred dollars or so. I think you have to give it 60 days of membership before the deal applies, but winter is coming…
In case this would help close the numbers on a better kayak hauling car.
hey joe-how is that aquanaut?
seen pix of you and her…glad youa re enjoying her…
racks: i know that on my escort wagon the rear bar is situated along the area that starts to curve towards the wagon hatch…the bars are not horizontal…
i am confused since the roof rack makers do not usually provide a max bar spread beyond 32"…unless:
- you are putting the tracks up there-then they are whatever length you set
- the rack is being connected directly to the factory rack…
let us know how this works out.
Interesting about the light sheet metal
on your WRX. Our Outback has heavier sheet metal than our '90 and 2000 Accords.
>By Mazda 3 Wagon do you mean the Mazda 3 5-door?
What year Mazda 3 are you considering?
The Mazda 3 5 door has a 32inch spread,
but a 125 lbs load limit.
I figured the spread was a typo on their part. As far as I know the spread is determined by the lip under the door where the Q-Tower brackets slip into and that is identical on both vehicles. That said, Yakima says that the extender kit is required for the Mazda 3 sedan which they also spec a 32" spread on (but they say 165 pound for a load limit).
It seems as if very few cars can actually support a load more than 125 pounds using Q Towers.
…MAzda 3 5door is one of the worst cars to
rack from both Yakima and Thule. Even a
dialed-in fit seem scetchy.
More sketchy than a 25" spread on a WRX sedan?
I would recommend bolting tracks to the roof
and using Yakima’s Landing Pad/Control Tower
system. Myc more secure.
Never even knew this option existed… thanks for the head up!
If you are trading vehicles because your Subaru
will not carry a rack anymore, you could always
bolt that too. A new rack is cheaper than a new
car. I recommend tracks instead of single towers
as they look more factory and spread out the
load over a wider roof area.
It is indeed cheaper. I went to a few body shops to ask what the repair to the dents would be and I received quotes of $550 to $650. I also knew that the dents would just come back so I asked if it was possible to spare some kind of self expanding something or other in there to give it structural rigidity and they said no game. That’s what prompted me to start shopping for a new vehicle (that and the car has nearly 100k miles on it… which in theory is nothing for a Japanese car although I think this one is a pseudo lemon as the not so normal repairs for this vintage are getting annoying).
Thanks for the heads up on the tracks.
racks and such
>seen pix of you and her…glad youa re enjoying
Definitely!!! Did a trip up to Casco Bay for a shake down and then in late June launched from Rockland, paddled across to Vinalhaven and circumnavigated it via a detour to Stonington. It was a total blast. I’m really impressed with how it handles fully loaded. It was a great trip… saw my first shark… well, my first shark that wasn’t behind glass. Very cool!!!
i am confused since the roof rack makers do not
usually provide a max bar spread beyond
Yeah, this is what raised the red flag for me. This is what Yakima lists on their site for the Mazda 3 wagon (5 door):
M1: 42 1/2, M2: 6, M3: 40 1/2, M4: 32
M1 Max: 42 1/2, M2 Max: 6, M3 Max: 40 1/2, M4 Max: 40
M4 is the spread. A max spread of 40"… it just doesn’t seem right.
Sheet metal, paint job, cruising noise… etc. The car was designed for drivers. It’s not the most practical vehicle but that said, it’s served it’s purpose for me. I won the Solo 2 (Autocross) D Stock Novice summer championship series with it, and came in 2nd place in the STX winter slush series (San Francisco region at the time). I love performance driving. At the time I bought the car I had no idea I would become a kayaking addict… had I only been able to see 5 years into the future. LOL Turns out I like sea kayaking just as much as I like autocrossing.
Another ??? on the Yakima track system…
I just called Yakima for some more info but… the folks manning the phones don’t seem to know much in the way of custom installs. In your experience is installing a track system on a vehicle with a curved roofline like the Honda Civic or the Mazda 3 5 door doable? Yakima said the tracks have some bend to them but they’re really designed for vehicle with a flat roofline.
My WRX sedan seems to have a relatively flat roof so that’s a plus but I’m still worried about it’s ability to support anything substantial now even with weight distribution that the track system offers.
If you ever have to get racks on a
performance car again, consider laying a fiberglass cap across the top of the car, and letting the rack towers bear against that rather than on the sheet metal. A potentially messy glass/epoxy project but one that I would do cheerfully if I had to.
You could always get a class 1 hitch and a cheap trailer. Harbor freight has a small trailer for 150 that with a tongue extension could make a dandy kayak trailer.
Fewer weight issues, better gas milage, and you can drive whatever you want
Answer to above and far below
The Mazda 3 rack is crummy because of how the clips fit the car, not how the towers sit on the roof. Even when tight, I’ve seen the towers move all over the place.
Yes, there are two fits for this car, one with just Q-towers (32")and one with the additional Q-tower stretch kit (40")The stretch kit adds rigidity to the rack and bumps up the load limit to 165. That is the highest rating for any of Yakima or Thule components (professional and truck racks not withstanding).
The reason why Yakima fits shorter crossbar spreads is for their luggage boxes and bike mounts. Most luggage boxes are not designed for large bar spreads. The sweat spot is 30 inches for most boxes. Bike mounts like a bar spread of about 3 feet too.
Tracks will fit a curve. They are made of two pieces. The trick is to not drill all the holes at once. Start at one end, drill and bolt that hole, the move to the next, drill and bolt. Repeat until the end. The track will conform to the correct shape. I’ve seen some pretty round cars tracked before. If you are at all concerned, just use Landing Pad 7 and skip the tracks. Your body shop will be dropping the headliner to pop the dents, they would probably cut you a huge deal on labor for installing tracks if you had it done at the same time. I would have them weld a piece of sheet metal to the underside to reinforce the rack. If they can’t do it, find another body shop because it can be done easily by a pro.
Trailer won’t work
I’ve considered that however… I’d say 90% of the places I launch from have parking that’s hard to come by… there’s simply no room for a trailer. That and I’d have no place to store it (eek).
Prius Thule track install
Just thought some might be interested in this…
I found a decent blog entry detailing the install of a Thule track system.
I don’t know why but both Thule and Yakima really burry the details of these products on their websites. They’re nearly impossible to find.
your roof deflected?
Boy, I would take that up with yakima, that doesn’t sound right. I had a narrow spread on my focus sedan and two 60# boats and no deflection at all.
Just bite the bullet, Joe!
Geez, Joe, why don’t ya just bite the bullet and get the official nspn Legacy Wagon? Ha! I just prepped an 01 Leg L 5sp Wag for only $8k. With 205/55VR16 you’ll actually have FUN too.
That should leave you plenty of $ room to sell your 'RX to some boyracer, eh? Cheers.
Joe, I got rid of my suv a couple years ago for a car and my biggest concern was hauling the sea kayaks. I looked at many cars including the mazda. I ended up with a pontiac vibe. I can get almost a 5’ spread using the factory rack and a thule cross bar for the back, and thule door post and cross bar for the front. works great! The vibe is the same as the as a toyota matrix so it’s a desent, reliable car. Sits a little higher than the mazda, although the mazda is pretty sporty and cool.
My '01 is a dog. Fun in snow or dirt but that’s about it. I need a baja turbo motor.
But the wrx wagon would be the ticket.
Or a trailer.
WRX wagon not much better…
Unfortunately the max spread with a Yakima rack on the wagon is also 25". It does come from the factory with roof rails though but I’m not sure they really provide all that much spread either.
Other drawbacks to the WRX are… it requires high octane fuel and with a roof rack on it, it only gets 24 mpg on the highway. It’s fun to drive though.
We’ll talk when…
I want a virgin car but… we’ll talk when Sylvia needs a vehicle.