Question For Fellow Saris Owners

A couple of weeks ago my wife said to me “…I thought you promised me that putting that kayak on top of the car wouldn’t cause any damage, take a look at the scratches on the roof…” I took a look, and there was a little scratching where the rubber pads usually sit. I do take the racks on and off the car, so I suspect I just got lazy (or just in a hurry to maximize my time on the water) and didn’t clean the dirt(as recommended in the manual) before attaching the racks. Anybody else notice this?



People who worry about…
… small roof scratches need to:

A. Get another hobby (or wife)

B. Get a beater car for ‘yak haulin’!

C. Buy waterfront property.

D. Any/all of the above.

IMO you have the best rack going. Strongest, easiest to use, and most gentle saddles available (assuming you use the Saris saddles). I will be referring to their fit guide when I begin shopping for an other vehicle.

Yes, sounds like dirt got under - and/or maybe your rack was too loose and shifting or too tight and grinding something in on install. All variations on the same thing. If it’s unsightly, leave the rack on! Mine helps me find my car in crowded lots and meet other paddlers.

Some pad marks (dirt/sun marks around the pads as it’s protected underneath!) make it even easier to put the rack back on right where I like it. So far I have no marks from the pads that won’t wash or polish out. The rest of the car is another story…

Get a life…
Re-evaluate your priorities. Just how much of your life have you wasted worrying about paint scratches? Oh my my.

PS: Its going to rust eventually too. Now you have reasons to stay awake at night, or just go paddling leaving your worries behind.

Too late now
I guess you’ll remember to clean the grit off in the future. Meanwhile, depending on how bad the scratches are, I’d clean them and touch them up or just clean and wax. If the scratches go through the primer, definitely touch up. You live in a rust zone.

If you think it’ll be a recurring problem, you can put on a clear, tough overlay that 3M makes specifically for automobiles. It’s meant to protect front ends from gravel chipping (is offered as a factory option on some vehicles). It comes in different sizes. You could lay some patches down in just the affected areas.

Anybody who has a new or recent model car he/she intends to keep a long time understands how you feel. Rust never sleeps.

don’t agree with the film idea
Hot days in parking lots heat the roof surface up and the adhesive softens. The feet then can slide and you can lose the whole rack like my buddy did on his Audi. He was so picky about the car finish that he put those strips down under the Yakima feet and ended up with some monster scratches and dents from the …ahem…accident. Yakima just laughed at him and said if the clear tape worked they would have shipped it with your rack. Ouch…

It works if you use the right product
I’ve been using tape made specfically for automotive applications and it works great. After a year of use, the tape has crept slightly, but it’s still well bonded to the roof.

If a rack will come off simply because there’s tape under it, it indicates either a piss-poor rack design or a piss-poor installation, or both. With the Saris rack, I could put grease under the pads and it wouldn’t budge, at least with my particular vehicle.

Security of a rack will vary with the type of clips a vehicle requires. I’ve installed Saris, Yakima and Thule racks, and from what I’ve seen, Yakima’s design presents the most opportunities for screwing up and Saris is the most foolproof. Thule is somewhere in between. Again, this may be somewhat vehicle specific.

Thanks All
I appreciate your opinions and ideas. I’ve also heard about some clay-like stuff sold at auto parts stores that deep cleans any particles. Maybe I’ll hose down the roof, towel dry the edges where the feet go, and use the clay stuff before setting down the racks. I do love these Saris racks.

As for the priorities, I sure do miss my old beater car. When my daughters turned driving age, my insurance company hiked the (NYC) rates on all of our cars sky high and I had to give it up. Sometimes things get complicated, so I find ways to continue to do the things that I enjoy. I think that taking an extra 5 minutes to clean the roof before applying the racks will probably do the trick.


I don’t think
leaving the rack on the car is recommended. At least Yakima does NOT recommend leaving the racks attached. They should be removed after use. I leave mine on for several days but not all the time.

“Claying” a car’s finish
Using a clay bar deep cleans the finish, but it won’t remove scratches. You’ll have to buff them out. While cleaning the paint is important, it’s probably more important to clean the feet of the rack, since dirt can become embedded in the rubber pads.