Small car weight limits?Vibe/Yakima 75?

I’ve read plenty of posts mentioning people carring multiple kayaks on their small cars. I was talking to a local Yakima dealer about getting the rack setup for my Vibe (Q-Towers clamped up front, low riders on the factory rack in back); I mentioned wanting bars larger than the recommended 48 inch, and the seller I was speaking to freaked when I said I’d be carrying two plastic kayaks or a large canoe, stating the Max weight limit is 75lbs.

I’ve seen Prius’s with 17 foot long sea kayaks and a Vibe with two full sized canoes side by side on oversized bars. Are the weight limits extremely conservative or are folks driving in dangerous configurations?

I always use bow and stern tiedowns, am I safe with a couple of plastic touring boats on the Vibe (assuming one doesn’t drive like a nut)?



The Engineering is CYA oriented
On alot of cars the “designed to give up kilocalories of energy on impact and to crumpledown to the A-post.”

I would not plan on having an accident. If you do have an accident you are on your own.

In otherwords go for it just realize you are on your own if you hit something.

I had emailed Yakima last year
regarding what they recommend as max wgts for their rack systems as I also had to go w/Q-towers for a Ford Taurus which was only rated @ 100lbs. I got a response from them indicating that they test with twice the load that they publish in their literature. I’d say you’re probably safe as long as you’re not hauling a couple plastic tandems that wgh 100lbs each.

have fun!

Aftermarket throghout
I would consider going with Q towers on all four corners. It may be a safer and more load-bearing configuration than the factory rack.

Longer bars are allright, as long as they do not extend beyond the maximum car width. Bars extending too far beyond the vehicle width are unsafe and may not be legal.

That said, I’ve carried three poly kayaks on my Siena with Yakima Stacker and saddles, and Q towers at all four corners.

Factory rack or 4 towers
The factory rack is actually quite sturdy. The problem is that the OEM cross bars are crap and a set of low riders & 2 bars, while would bear the load, would put the bars too close together and too far back on the roof. If I go with 4 Q-Towers, the spread shrinks again. The Yakima recommended setup, which I agree with, is the half and half approach.

I just finished installing homemade hood loops; now I need to devise a solution for the rear that doesn’t scuff the bumper.


Guy down the street from me has a vibe
with rack and carries two carolinas on it (and these arn’t exactly light boats)

go for it…I am
My brother-in-law has an 03 vibe that we carried two canoes on all the time with the same setup. After a few years he did have some problems with the factory rack coming loose. Even so I just got a Vibe in Feb and have 78" bars on for two canoes. The Vibe has such a great spread between the bars to hold boats securely, and it gets great mileage.

On a side note I would never recommend 48" bars to someone who will be carrying boats, go with the 58". All the bars are about the same price and if you find you don’t need the longer length you can cut them down to something shorter.

phreon check out this link
from Carspace sponsored by Users of Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe in a pretty down to earth info exchange. Used this previously before this topic came up. Find it illuminating.

This particular link comes up after plugging in the words “roof rack” into the site specific search engine.!keywords=allin%3Amsgtext%20limit%3A.ef0a955%20roof%20rack&count=20

You may want to scan resulting messages. Didn’t have the time to read thru them all, anyways I drive a 2004 Matrix XRS. I personally think it is the best Toyota I’ve owned, and it is my fifth, even topping a 1998 RAV4.

Aside from roof racks, on the general board there are over 250 pages of comments with model years going back to 2003 (IIRC the first model year)on various topics including problematic issues w. both models. They are NOT virtual twins as some people think. There are qualitative and design differences from engine to paint, and you may wish to read further about them.

I use Malone autoloaders on my Vibe
factory rack to transport my Dirigo 120 and it has worked out well-although my trips are usually only between 10 and 40 miles (each way). Prior to that I used foam blocks on the factory rack. I run a strap to the loops under the front bumper for security but no rear tie-down (no good places to hook it)

Sounds like your seller was an idiot.
I have had over 100 pounds on Yakima racks on the older design towers and pads. No problem, no distortion. Yakima would have out-of-business long ago if their setups had not been able to handle double tandem canoes up top. The new Q-towers and Lowriders are very secure in attachment.

Roll-over risk
the weight limits are not simply about how much the rack can hold. They also relate to how you are changing the center of gravity of your vehicle. More weight makes a roll-over more likely.

Bars 'n such
I wound up getting the 58 inch bars,the 54s on my old car were barely long enough. I picked up everything today except the 2 pack of Q-Towers and clips; they’re on order. BTW, thanks for the tip about using inner tube rubber under the clips.

The write-up I read about Q-Towers slipping said that they were an older design and that Yakima has since fixed the problem. We’ll see.

Finally, is the air dam worth the money? Seems like it would render my moon roof useless.



Hold off on the air dam
If you need it - you’ll know it. It isn’t preventive medicine.

What I figured…
Just to stop the howl? My old car did that. I spiral wrapped a bungee cord around the front bar; it spoils the airflow and stops the whistling.


roll over risk 2
i think almost all factory installed roof racks can handle the weight of 2 or 3 kayaks. the main problem, as the previous post points out, is how that weight changes the center of gravity of your car, especially the lighter sedans or the tall, skinny suv/minivans.

also, if the kayak is really wide and is transported on its side, it’ll act like a sail and your handling will be greatly affected by strong crosswind or a tractor trailer passing by.

vibe rack distance
for the q-towers up front and rail riders on the factory rear what is the distance between them?

Look at all the parts
As above, the weak point in factory racks is usually the cross bars. Whatever is along the length of the car on the outside will usually take considerable weight, though it is specific to make and model what kind of vertical supports (towers) you need to use. In our Sable we have towers that fit into the slots along the roof that also hold the factory rack, which puts the towers righ over a structural member. On the Subaru Outback, the towers clamp onlto the factory original front-to-back rails which will support weight comparable to the Yakima crossbars.

The salesman probably thought you were talking about putting the boats right onto the factory original crossbars, and depending on what you bought up there his concern may be correct. Two plastic boats can start to add up the weight.

No, 75 is 75
The roof weight limit for the vibe is 75 pounds no matter how you rack your vehicle. Yakima came about this number because they tested numerous systems and they failed at 150lbs. The limiting factor is probably how the factory rack is attached to the roof. You would like to believe that some thought was put into it but often they are attached with a handful of sheet metal screws.

Above all, it is not rack weight, but load lift that destroys racks. Bow and stern lines are a must and I would even go as far as two bow and two stern lines for that vehicle with that load limit if you are going to exceed the recommended limit. The sales person was correct in pointing out that you are going outside of Yakima’s warranty.

No tower alternatives?
In the Sable wagon(s), the factory rack has been slid back and the towers mounted directly into the slot that also happens to hold the verticals for the front-to-back factory rack. Hence the weight-bearing part is limited by the strength of the Yakima products, since that slot lies over a structural member of the frame.

Do I take it that this is not an option in the Vibe - that you have to mount any support for 3rd party cross-bars to their front to back rail (which is itself of very limited ability)?

Good to know since that is among the station wagon-like vehicles that would other wise seem to be apt for a kayaking family.

Vibe factory rails…
The factory bars on the Vibe are quite solid. The cross bars are garbage, but the roof rails themselves are solid enough that I can rock the car back and forth without flexing. The roof bars are attached directly to the hood rather than using tracks. As such, my rear crossbar is held on with a pair of Yakima Low Riders that clamp onto the factory rails. I could have used 4 Q-Towers clamped onto the door openings, but using Low Riders in the back gives me a much better cross-bar spread. I always use stern and bow tie-downs.