Roof rack weight limit

Looking to put a Thule rack on my wife’s Ford Taurus. Online it says max weight limit is 110lbs. Im planning on putting two 55lbs sea kayaks. Anyone else doing that? Plus j-cradles. The Thule rack would be the type then hooks into the door jam.

I think you can get away with it, but
be religious about checking your rack towers and clips. It’s hard to say how they arrive at the stated weight limit, which almost always is toward the low end of realistic. It might be interesting for you to go to the Yakima rack fitting site, and see what they are claiming for maximum weight on the Taurus.

Used to be Taurus’s were real common. We had a '92 Sable, same thing, and it had a real strong roof. Maybe someone with a recent Taurus will show up with actual experience with loads.

One thing that will strengthen a clip-on rack setup and make it less likely to fly away if a single clip gets loose, is to put one or more struts between the front and rear racks. I’ve done this for our Accords, and I lift the entire rack assembly on and off the car roof as a unit. Company accessories like bicycle troughs can serve as struts. Otherwise you have to improvise your own.

weight limits and usage
I’ve often hauled between 90 lbs and 145 lbs of kayak/canoe combinations on a Thule rack attached to my Hyundai Santa Fe’s wimpy “maximum 75 lbs evenly distributed” labeled factory rails. Been doing so for 15 months, frequently on trips involved long stretches of highway speed. No problems yet. Had the same set-up for 3 years on a Volvo 850 with rails rated at 100 lbs.

Personally, I don’t know why the idiot car companies bother with those stupid parallel rails. The only thing they are useful for is hauling box springs or plywood sheets. Either give us good transverse bars or some kind of rugged flush attachment points where we can attach our racks of choice.


The ratings are probably facoring in the forces exerted by hard braking. That puts the most forces on your rack system and the weight of the boats is directly proportional to the forces. If you think about it, the rear bar would be pulled up and forward while the front bar would be pushed down and forward.

If the rear bar is secured properly, it would take a lot of force to break the rack system or for the rack to begin tearing your roof off of your car.

If you find yourself slamming on your brakes during normal driving, you may want to abide by the manufacturer’s suggestions for weight limits, but if you are willing to leave a little extra distance between you and other cars, you can probably carry twice what they recommend without a problem.

You don’t think lawyers might have to
do with it?

I’ve done some hard braking with substantial load, and haven’t had racks or boats slip.

The reports I have seen about racks coming off cars have all been at highway speed. I have not seen reports of Yakima or Thule racks coming off under hard braking, though I must assume that it has happened.

Speaking as a psychologist who went to MIT, I don’t think engineers did any serious calculations that resulted in the stated limits. The limits smell like picked-out-of-the-air.

side gusts
The only “OH SH*T!” moments that I have had, in many years of car topping longboats, was not from heavy braking but from violent gusts of wind slamming into my car/kayaks broadside, and to a lesser extent from the air turbulence surrounding large trucks.

Bow/stern lines and other measures can help, as can slowing down, but you can still run into weather conditions where the only safe choice is to pull off the road.

I always figured that the published limits were more about the integrity of the car roof/sheetmetal than about the dynamic forces at play, with a margin of safety added.

Greg Stamer

That’s what my dealer said…
when I asked several years ago. He said my Yakima racks were good for quite a bit more weight than the roof of my Lumina was.

am not driving your car with your boats and your insurance on it, but I can tell you that I regularly put quite a bit more weight on my Thule racks (mounted on Subaru Outback factory rails). I’ll carry three boats (>110 lbs 2 J’s, 1 saddle) hundreds of miles of highway speeds. I have also carried well over double that weight in lumber. And I once carried about 400 pounds of sheet rock (~8 sheets x 55lbs ea) I really don’t recommend that though.

What year Taurus?
On our older Taurus/Sable wagons, still have one on the road, we used the Yakima towers that go into the roof inset that supports the factory rails with Yakima crossbars. That puts it right on a frame point and the Yakima crossbars can hold more than twice the weight of the factory stuff. We have carried well over 110 pounds with no trouble. Four kayaks with stuff in them.

I would suggest looking for a system that puts the weight on a frame point if you haven’t already bought one.

It’s a 2009. Thanks everyone

Load Bars?
I’m gonna go with thule rack but whats everyones thoughts on the load bars. AeroBlade or Standard Square?

The Ford Taurus is silver but i’'m not completely sold on the AeroBlade’s.

Bar noise comparison
The video below was made to market Whispbar racks, but if you believe the wind tunnel test, the Thule aerobar is no quieter than the square bar.

The square bars fit all Thule and a lot of third party attachments. Don’t know if that’s true for the aerobar.

I’ve had Thule square bars for 20 years and like them.

Ford is a relatively quiet roof
We actually were taken aback about having to put a spoiler on the Subie after three Taurus/Sable wagons. We’d never had to think about it before.

Re the 2009, that is one of the newer models that Ford renamed the Taurus after they realized they had screwed up big league in abandoning the line. So they may not have the sunken rail along the frame. But if they do, it’s a really solid setting for the towers.

i’m not really worried about noise. got the square cross bars on my 4runner. just working if the new AeroBlades are a better look

online ordering
is my best bet?

Can’t help there
We got our first set from a local dealer and have usually ordered replacement and expansion parts from one as well. I haven’t heard anything bad about rackattack, if that helps.