Subaru roof rack failure!

FYI!!! The factory installed roof rack on my 2-week old Baja came off the car at 55mph with (2) 10’ kayaks on it (total weight 80#). Boats were tied down into Thule “J” hooks. The cross bars pulled out of side rail mounts in a cross-wind. Subaru will not honor the warranty - saying I cannot prove proper usage of the rack!!! This is my THIRD Subaru and probably my 300th time of carrying boats. The only difference is I never used the factory racks in the past because I thought they were flimsy. THEY ARE! CHECK YOUR FACTORY-INSTALLED RACKS FOR INTEGRITY. DO NOT ASSUME THEY WILL HOLD. FAILURE POTENTIAL IS HIGH, ESPECIALLY ON THE BAJA. (Possilby due to short roof.) I am still pursuing this issue.

bastids —
i wouldn’t let them off the hook so easily. i’d call the district manager or whatever they call them and that failing i’d follow the chain all the way to the top until i got satisfaction.

how can one prove “proper use” after the fact !!!

Here’s hoping for the best
and maby the guys/gals posting their ever faster speeds on another thread should take a hard look at your post.

aregan - you state “the cross bars pulled out of side mount rails” - i have an outback, and assume you had the j racks attached directly to the factory cross bars - i want to clarify, as i have thule cross bars, which have a much more aggressive attachment system - - i certainly agree that the bars shouldn’t have given out - i had thought of doing the same as you on my next outback, as i don’t like all the clutter/wind resistance with my present setup, however - - -

I have a 1999 Subaru Forester with a Yakima system that attaches to the Subaru roof rack. I also use extra long crossbars. I have never had trouble with this system, even when carrying two Mad River Guides while traveling at 80 mph on the interstate with significant cross winds.

I have found a Subaru message board you may want to investigate to see if others have had your problem. The URL is:

Good luck. I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.

'05 Subaru
I just got an '05 Outback XT and came back from a 1000 mile trip to maine. I had my 'glass mystic on Thule 835s and my Lemond Road bike on a fork mounted carrier by Rocky Mounts. No problem here, but I am planning on getting a thule or yakima load bars sooner or later because the crossbars mount into a sleeve that mounts onto the rails, therefore there is a whole lot less usable rack width using the factory rack. My only question is if you checked the Torx nut to see if it was tight enough. Before I left to Maine and before I installed my carriers, I took the supplied Torx driver and made sure the feet were handtight. (they provide a torque spec but I did not bother to get my torque wrench).

I agree with the others, if you spoke to your dealership, take it to the next level, regional manager or Subaru directly.


outback XT
OT - jay - is that the new turbo version ? - that’s what i’m interested in, and am curioue re-feedback - at 0-60 at 5 1/2sec, they must be one fun machine !!

Roof Rack Failure
Wha Ho, Pilgrims;

Another example of the necessity of using bow and stern tie-downs. Never understood the reasoning for people “NOT” using them.

Fat Elmo

Jay H
Yes, it’s the 2.5L turbo H4 boxer engine. It’s really butt-dyno quick once the turbo kicks in. No way it feels like a 4 cyclinder!!!

If you want a really fast machine, the Forrester XT (with the 2.5L turbo) is a screamer, something like 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, it’s reputably faster than the bast WRX…

Anyway, the outback XT does a screaming 0-60 in the mid 6s as tested by C&D.

I love it so far, there are some improvements I’d like to see but overall, I am quite happy with it.


We have two rec boats and a 4 runner
we also have hull o ports… When traveling locally and back roads I never use the bow stern tie downs… but for highway speeds I ALWAYS USE tie downs at bow and stern… Yes, it is a pain in the butt to look at… but… we have never ever had a problem… and if the racks do fail… chances are we are not going to damage the boats or the car behind us … AT 70 miles an hour… you need a little extra something. Better safe the sorry I guess.

New Racks…

– Last Updated: Jul-14-04 11:31 AM EST –

I'll have to look at the new ones. I can't imagine the cross bars coming off my 99 unless the screws got real loose. I leave my J's on the cross bars and remove the cross bars regularly, I guess I'm tightening the screws more often than most folks... no problems

OK just went and looked at the new Baja roof rack. It looks like the one on my old Jeep, I can see how they would come apart and I wouldn't trust the Jeeps at all... They are much different than the older style....

Looked again..
The Outback racks are different and look more like the older ones??????

i would suggest
work your way up the food chain with your complaint, but do it all in writing. Most management types hate that, especially when they see you are c.c.'ing your letter to your lawyer, or even better, to consumer groups like Consumer’s Report, etc. They tend to jump a little quicker and higher in those instances to avoid bad press.

I also have my kayak locked
to my factory rack so if all else fails at least it will hang from my rack.


The place to go is, or, the two biggest Subaru clubs on the net. Plenty of people there, including many Subaru employees, and you can likely get the info you need to continue this warranty claim up the chain of command.

Sorry to hear about your problem :frowning: I’m a WRX owner with an aftermarket Yakima rack, which so far I haven’t had any problems with.

Also for Outback specific problems,

Is a good one, a little more specific to Outbacks than the others…


More details?
Can you show any pictures? Describe what happened? Speed? Route? Other vehicles damaged? Damage to kayak?

My 2 cents worth
As a long-time Subaru owner, and having hauled many types of boats on the roof I was surprised to hear of this failure. As I understand it, the crossbars pulled out of the factory rack rails.

I use Yakima Lowriders with round bars, so I cannot comment on the strength of the factory crossbars, BUT i do have a theory.

Long boats coupled with shorter crossbar spreads might result in the boat having greater leverage against the rack components. This would be even more pronounced if no bow and stern lines were used. Double lines (inverted “V’s”) would reduce torque to a greate rextent.

Subaru crossbar attachment to the rails is a fairly simple clamp - to visualize, make a claw with yoyr hand and slowly close the distance between your thumb and forefinger. Speed and crosswind could conceivably overpower the clamp’s hold on the rail.


start at the top
one thing i’ve learned over the years is:

when you have an issue for a company you work for, start at your supervisor and work your way up

when you have an issue for a company you don’t work for,

start at the top and work your way down.

you’ll get results much faster. i also agree that the CC list of your letter is as important as your letter.

good luck!


The new Bajas clamps are different…

Post a high level e-mail address
and we will perhaps send them a couple thousand very polite (and I mean that) e-mails fron paddlers who are concerned both about the lack of standing behind the watrranty, and about the lack of strength of the rack.

subaru has made a deal of the paddling comunity and we do not want to stomp that, but we do want to tell them that marketing campaigns can be made ineffective by poor engineering and customer service policies. We need racks that work, on decent vehicles.