Roof Rails

Has anyone installed the Yakima rail system? If so, did you us the “special tool” to install the through the roof nuts?

Link (see around 1:00 minute mark):

I’ve installed a through the roof factory rack on a minivan with similar hardware and did not use a special tool. The instructions were to just tighten the nuts with a regular bolt and they compress themselves just like with the special tool in the above video. The thing is, these nuts in the Yakima don’t seem to have any square edges or a way to hold them down while tightening the regular bolt in - they will rotate so I’m not sure if they can be installed without a tool…

Thoughts? I suppose I can go to a place that sells and installs roof racks and borrow the tool for a few minutes and do the rest myself …

Also, can you recommend any place that has a good price on these rails and the Yakima landing pads?


I am not sure what special tool…
you are talking about, but I installed the Yakama through the roof pads, (not the rails but the same nuts), and I didn’t need any special too.

The landing pads on top of them are the most reliable rack system that I have ever come across.

The first hole you drill hurts a bit, and once that is done you figure the damage is done so what the heck, you might as well continue!

Jack L

How do you install the nuts?

– Last Updated: Mar-27-11 7:54 PM EST –

Did you install the ones that do not require removal of the roof liner? E.g. only access from above the roof is needed?

The ones I installed on the Mazda MPV a few years back were like that. I recall they came with some sort of a simple flat wrench that let me hold the nut while I tightened a bolt in it that squished it flat against the sheet metal. Then take out the bolt, place the rails, tighten the bolt again...

Without that little flat wrench the nut tended to slip and rotate while I used the bolt to flatten it...

The "special tool" looks like a rivett puller of sorts that somehow pulls the bottom of the nut up to flatten the tube - same function as just screwing the bolt - except there is no rotation required so no need to hold the nut in place during the process.

tool came with kit
When i bought the landing pads from Oak Orchard Canoe several years ago, the Pluz Nut version came with the tool. Much easier and safer than using a bolt with washers. Check your rack supplier to see what is included, the tool still may be part of the kit. Some dealers may remove the tool, hoping you will hire them for the install.

The folks at Oak Orchard Canoe are very helpful, they have done thousands of racks on about anything that will hold one. The landing pad/control tower system is very secure and the fastest system for mounting and removing the bars.

I have one vehicle with the pads mounted stationary, and two with them on short sections of Yackima Tracks. Both worked well and two are mounted with the Pluz Nuts. the VUE has the Yakima Rails mounted using the threaded holes for the factory racks. The hole spacing happens to be the same.


I’ve done a bunch
You need the tool.

There are actually two kinds of tools, the disposable one that comes with the tracks, and a professional model that some rack shops will have. The professional tool is the one you see in the video. The disposable kind which comes with both the Thule and Yakima tracks get the job done, but usually break (they include extras in the kit) and take longer to use.

Depending on the curve of your roof, you may not be able to drill all your holes in advance before securing the track. As the track bends around a curved roof, the hole spacing will change. You have to start at one end; mark, drill, install track, mark next hole, uninstall track, drill, and repeat for the entire length. Time consuming but the only way to do it right. If your roof is flat it’s much easier.

Personally, just use the tools that come with the tracks. They’re included and quite functional.

Tool with kit works fine
I just put 42" yakima tracks on my 2010 civic sedan. The tool that comes with it works fine. It even comes with a spare. I was a little nervous drilling into a new car but in the end it was well worth it. Crossbars and towers lock on and off in a few seconds. With just the track and landing pads the new car is very quiet. I put 6 plusnuts on each side with no problems. The whole system was pretty expensive but worth it. My old civic had Thule bars with towers and door clips. Very time consuming to take on and off so I just put up with the noise during paddling season. RackAttack shipped fast and was very helpful when I called for install assistance

Thanks! Didn’t realize …
… the Yakima rail kits come with a tool. That would be sufficient.

one thing
Friend installed tracks on his truck. Unfortunately, the placement was less than ideal - there is quite a bit of movement in the tracks - roof flexes too much at chosen points of attachments. That doesn’t imply immediate failure, but the movement in the rack is very disconcerting.

From what I gather, the best way do this job is to have layout for holes in advance. IIRC, layouts were available for some vehicles at some point.

Lacking the layouts, dropping the headliner is time consuming, but might be the best way to approach this. That way you can actually see what you are drilling in, possibly strengthen up attachment points.

Makes sense - thanks!

Plus nut alternative
I broke both tools that came with the rail system. I might have been over tightening, but I still thought I was screwed. I found a riveting tool at menards and with a box of rivets it cost a little over $20. Menards is a regional thing, but I think Lowe has them too. They hold just as good as the plus nuts. Hopefully you won’t need this but just in case.

Not sure I’d trust
Regular aluminum rivets. The nuts that came with my rack were made from something sturdier than aluminum I thought. I have rivet toll and rivets are really handy for a lot of things. But I have not looked at big rivets - may be they are strong enough…