Roof rack apres-winter check

Ditched my boots for the first time since November and wore shoes to work. Hooray for lightfootedness!

What should I check on my roof rack to make sure it’s all systems go? It’s weathered snow, freezing rain, wind, and ice. I’ve treated the locks with Tri Flow and my car is garaged at night.

It’s a Thule with aeroblades; Hullavator arms kept indoors all winter.


If it was properly installed to begin with then it sounds like it’s all good, but if you want to be extra sure, grab each tower and give it a big shake. If it’s not loose, should be all set, otherwise figure out how to tighten it down.
One spring my buddy and I went for the first ww paddle of the season, he had just reinstalled his roof rack, and on the ride home the boats and rack peeled off on the highway. I heard the tone of the rack change as one front tower let loose, I looked up through his sunroof, just in time to see everything drift off the roof in slow motion. My ww boat had a tire mark across the bow, but no discernable damage, and was still attached to the rack. Caused a few minutes of mayhem on a major highway just north of Boston as we collected everything. My friend later discovered he had mixed up the front and rear clips. Always good to mark the location of the towers if you remove them. Also good to do that very official shake check before loading them up to start the season.

Like @Johnysmoke I’ll be going over all the bolts at the attachment points before the Hullavators go back on.

I’ll start off by giving the bars and the towers that have been on the car all winter a good wash and apply some 303. The Hullavator arms themselves - mine also stored in my garage all winter - will get a going over with all pivot points lightly oiled and a schmear of grease on the pins. My ratcheting hooks will get a scrub and some oil and I might consider replacing the 1/4" ropes for the bow and stern tie-downs. Mine are 4 years old and starting to get a little rough looking although I’ll probably get another year out of them.

One thing I did when I installed everything was to buy a pack of stainless split lock washers from my local Home Depot and put one on top of each flat washer and under each nut on the 4 bar mount assemblies.

Also, if like me you have attached the towers to your vehicle’s factory rails, check that the rails are securely attached. Mine kept coming a little loose and after having them tightened up a few times (and being appalled at how flimsily the rails were attached with simple non-locking hex nuts) I brought my dealer a handful of 5mm nylock nuts and had him replace all the original ones while the car, a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe, was in for a service. My dealer’s sheepish reaction when I told him I wanted this done under warranty as a safety issue was to comment that most people don’t really use their roof racks for anything like hauling kayaks. On my car at least this wasn’t so easy as most of them are under the headliner but my dealer did it for me with no charge.

Thanks, guys! Appreciate the advice.

@Johnnysmoke. That had to be a heck of an experience. Glad your boat made it through the mayhem intact. My rack was professionally installed. When I grab the towers and push on it, the car wiggles (Honda Fit), but not the rack. Seems solid.

@kfbrady, bare roof car. Will check the bolts - I did regularly oil the bar mounts to try to protect them from the salt and grunge and do go through a touchless car wash at least once a week in cold weather. Will do the oil and 303 whenever it warms up here (snowing again - so much for shoes).

I’m OCD about the cam straps and bow/stern rachet straps, always daisy chaining them as they come off and keeping them in a specific bag which is stored indoors next to my Hullavators. Not because I’m a neat freak, but because I don’t have to chase them down. There is some wear on the cam straps; don’t know how often they should be replaced.