Permanent installation for Yakima racks?

I have a new Toyota Prius. I have been using Yakima racks for a quarter century and want to stick with Yakima. But, my experience with Yakima towers on my old prius was not great. No matter how careful I was installing and removing the racks with heavy J Racks mounted my roof seemed to get dinged up way to much. I am considering installing the Yakima permanent mount tracks on this vehicle to hopefully avoid this problem. Has anyone installed these? Are they hard to install? Can a do it yourself type person do it? Do you have to drop the headliner?

I’d be concerned that if the roof metal
is thin for towers, it will be thin for the permanent mounts. I might consider some sort of wider plate under the Yakima mounts to distribute the force.

It used the proline tracks for my Yakima
I installed the proline tracks on my car. This is the second car I’ve used these tracks for and the fourth car for my Yakima racks:

Did you
install the tracks yourself? Do you have to drop the roof liner? How do they go on?

The problem was not that the metal was
too thin for towers. Just that it got banged up cosmetically. My guess is that the tracks, if installed correctly, would be structurally sound. But if folks who have actually used them and had problems that would be good to hear about.

email sent …
another option

I am not sure about your Prius, but
I installed Yakama permanent “landing Pads” on my Ford F-150 pick up, and they are rock solid.

The head liner is metal and I did not have to remove it.

Yakam has a widjit that is like a toggle bolt only much larger and stronger. You drill the hole, from the roof (two per each pad) and then widjit goes down in the hole. As you tighten the screw it expands under the roof until it bottoms out. Once the pads are installed you put the Yakama towers that are made for them in them.

You can remove the bar in a matter of seconds if you want to take the racks off.

You can also install their roof tracks the same way.

Give Yakama a call and see if they are compatable with your Prius.

Right now I am looking for a new vehicle and one of my criteria is that I can install Yakama racks the same way.

Jack L

I take it that the rack
can be mounted and dismounted easily - similar to the normal installations? So it is practical to take the rack off for daily travel and put it on for the weekend for example?

Minor rant …
I hate all this piece on top of piece stuff … You lose spread for every extra ‘layer’. And the whole deal just keeps getting higher.

IMO, it would be nice if rack manufacturers at least try and compensate for the spread lost.

been done

– Last Updated: Jul-31-13 12:42 PM EST –

Kocho, a regular on this board, has installed it on gen1, and, I think, gen2 Prius.
There also quite a few blog entries, just a bit of googling away.

Edit - link

hoo rah

Yakima Landing Pads
Is what I have on my '11 Honda Insight. Roof sheet metal is soft, so I prefer to carry less than 100lb although I’ve had 130 and it is fine, just the metal bends more than I like.

Very fast to take off and put on - 30 seconds. Because the roof is so curved, the rack is actually very low - fine for boats but I wish it was higher for carrying skis with the bindings down - now some of them touch the roof if in the center of the rack (no big deal, I carry them bindings-up).

A friend has the rails (I have the landing pads) on his 2011 Prius and they work good too.

Drill through the roof, no need to remove the headliner. If the Prius has mounting points that are more solid than the roof sheet metal, that would be another option - my Insight does not.

I have 40" spread between the front and rear bar and I would not want it any wider due to the roof curvature and for carrying skis and snowboard. My rack as installed is horizontal (the front is not higher than the rear). And I use a 5foot extension with Mako saddles front and rear, so they support the boat under the bulkheads.

Yes it is simple
You just flip up the tower clips on each side and lift the rack with the towers out. It only takes the time that it takes to walk around your car.

the landing pads are still left on the roof

I change them back and forth from my truck to my Escape lots of times

Jack L

Here (video)

And here is my setup:

Both setups (rails vs. landing pads) are clean and work well (no removal of the headliner required to install on the car).

The front of my roof is almost 2" wider than the rear. The curve is big too, so I opted for the landing pads - fronts are spaced a bit wider than the rears (so that both can be as close to the tougher sides of the roof), yet they are parallel to each other (with rails, I would have to mount the front of the rails towards the inside of the roof on the inside, which I think would be weaker on the roof; I did not want to have non-parallel rails mounted on the sides where the roof structure is stronger)

Call Yakima
We had our roof rack stolen TWICE and they had locks. Apparently it is easy to steal these using a flathead screwdriver to puncture the lock. The decision to go with permanent mount was the best solution for our Toyota matrix. Yakima gave us a deep discount for a permanent mount solution and a list of shops in the area that did the work of installing the tracks. Now it takes less than a minute to install the racks and we no longer keep them on the car 24/7 .

Yakima Tracks
I put the tracks on a 2002 Saturn Vue and a 2006 Chevy HHR. With the VUE i cut the track into two sections. The rear is about 16" and the front about 8". I was able to use the existing threaded holes in the roof that Saturn provides for installing the factory rack. On the HHR i used the Pluznut setup from Yakima like JackL describes above. The roof on the HHR did not seem suited to a direct mount of the landing pad; same deflection problem you have with your Prius roof. Using the track section spread the load over a 12" area and there is no deflection. Having the landing pads mounted on track sections also allows for some front to back adjustment and different bar spread for short solos or the long tandem we sometimes carry (23’). Since the roof narrows from front to back on most newer cars, the front sections are farther apart than the rear track sections; but both are parallel and allow the landing pads to slide front to back on the track sections.

I am mounting track sections on my pickup cap to use the control tower racks from the VUE. I could use artificial rain gutter mounts, but the lever action control towers on landing pads are so much faster to mount and remove. And very secure. I have over 15,000 miles of rack use on the VUE with several thousand having the 23’ Minnesota IV and an 18’Sundowner on top together. No problems with the rack or mounts.

With the Pluznuts i have not had to remove the headliner on any of the vehicles. I did use a drill stop to keep the drill bit from going thru the headliner. It was just masking tape wrapped aroung the drill bit leaving enough bit exposed to get thru the sheet metal roof.


for daily travel
The rack comes off the tracks in about two or three minutes.

As far as installation mine is screwed to the roof. Pro line can give you details.

Very helpful -
I have a decision to make. My Yakima towers are old. My bars are old. I’ve been using them for 20 years or more. I have many attachments for boats and bikes and skis etc. Even though I do have an old pick up it will die one day and I may have to do without a pick up. Also, even with the pick up there are many occasions when I prefer to take my Prius and I want to have a way to carry boats etc. with my Prius. The best option it seems is to upgrade to a permanent mounting system which will be expensive even if I do the work myself. But, another option is to move to a dedicated trailer. That is expensive also - actually very expensive. But, a trailer is also very versatile and can be used with any vehicle with a hitch. I will have to sharpen my pencil and have a little confab with my spouse about the options. The other thing I could do is nothing and just keep using the old pick up until it dies. The problem with that is that it is not very reliable. Twice now we have been all loaded up to go paddling and the thing has broken down in the driveway on the way out spoiling our plans because we have no other way to transport boats at the moment. Time to pay the piper I fear.

One last thing, watching the video of your set up - I see that you are able to set the entire rack down on the roof single handed. This is exactly the time when I was running into problems. When I attempted to set my older q clip style rack on the roof I found that it was heavy and awkward (I am using heavy J style rack attachments on the bars) and the far side occasionally banged into the roof and on one or two occasions made a small dent. I think the answer here may be to abandon the heavy J attachments - maybe just use foam blocks - not sure. But this was a problem for me.

Thanks for the great posts - very helpful. If I decide to go with a yakima permanent mount I will call yakima for input.

Setting the entire rack

– Last Updated: Aug-02-13 11:30 AM EST –

It is heavy-ish. Not too difficult when I have the extensions mounted on one side, as I usually have them to carry one boat over the driver side. But if I also add a pair of stackers towards the other side, it gets uncomfortably heavy. If the two bars are not connected with a long extension as I have them, then it should not be a problem to mount the front then the back, even if you got some attachments on the bars. Also, I'm 6'4", but shorter people might find it more challenging to put the whole setup at once. Plus it requires some clearance - easy outside, inside I have wiggle it a bit under the boats hanging from the ceiling and around the cars in the garage.

I did consider the idea that Bob mentioned (to have a 2-section rail instead of landing pads) and thought it might be sturdier too, but for some reason went with the pads, forgot why...probably because I was concerned about the roof curvature and the tension it would create for a rail longer than just a few inches. I hear some outfits sell the rails pre-shaped for the roof line - that would be a great help and in this case I would say rails (split in two as per Bob) would better for our cars.

Headliner is metal?
The closest thing I’ve seen to a metal headliner was on utility vans and panel trucks from the 60s and earlier that had no headliner at all, so the roof metal and supporting beams were exposed (which would be ideal for us paddlers who want to mount racks). Even back in the 20s and 30s there were no metal headliners, only fabric and cardboard-like materials.