Thule rack problem

-- Last Updated: Apr-07-15 10:15 PM EST --

Hey guys,

I'm new to transporting my kayaks on the roof of my vehicle and was having some issues with my Thule square bar rack. I will first point out that I was not using any bow and stern tie downs so I am hoping using them solves my problem. While driving the back roads last summer in moderate winds the bar on my rack was pushed almost all the way through the feet that are attached to my vehicle. If I hadn't pulled over because I noticed the kayaks moving they would have pulled all the way through. I have since tightened them down as much as possible but they weren't really loose in the first place. I am really afraid to put my yaks back up there for fear of this happening again. Do you think the bow and stern tie downs would correct this? While I feel it is safer to use them in general and will be using them from now on, I feel that it won't do much to prevent this. Maybe I am underestimating the importance of them. Has anyone else ever heard of this happening? I haven't been able to find anything remotely similar online. Anyways, thanks for any help that you can offer. If it matters I am transporting two 10'4" kayaks.

Pushed through the feet?
Like the bars had slid sideways enough to come out of the towers? We have had all Thule and never encounntered that level of movement, if I understand correctly. Over time they do need to be moved back into line with a rubber hammer but that is after multiple decent length drives to and from the launch. Never that kind of movement during a single trip.

But we also typically have had sea kayaks up there with neoprene cockpit covers, and occasional WW kayak tucked in. I wonder if thee is a different risk from wind with the boats like you are carrying.

Yeah, they were sliding sideways through the feet/towers. The front bar only though, the back stayed in place. And all the parts are thule made specifically for my vehicle. It could be the design of the kayaks I suppose, they have a large opening and probably capture a lot of air while moving. Still, seems strange since many people transport similar boats.

not ever seen thi
I have not ever seen this before. My best guess was that the clamps of the towers around the bars were loose.

Bow and stern line would not prevent the bar from slipping, but would hopefully prevent a catastrophic problem by keeping the boats and rack on the roof if the bars did slip all the way out.

If it really is a concern, you could try locking the bar in place with a second means. Perhaps get a set of hose clamps (like and install on the bars right next to the towers. These should keep them from being able to slip. In theory, you would only need one clamp for each tower, so long as you put them all in the same place (either inside or outside), but you could do one one each side.

good idea
That is a good idea Peter I hadn’t thought of doing something like that. I may have to end up doing that, but will probably be contacting Thule first since this should be unnecessary on an expensive rack system. Thanks for your advice.

Yeah, start with Thule
My idea about the larger cockpit of the boats was that it might aggravate the problem, but that is not a problem you should have had with such severity regardless. I agree with above, it doesn’t sound like things are being held together well to start with.

I second that guess

– Last Updated: Apr-08-15 10:08 AM EST –

The feet can be a PITA to truly tighten down until you hear the reassuring "click" described in the instructions. I suspect this leads to the failure people describe when dismissing clamp-on racks out-of-hand.
My Thule feet/towers actually put small indentations on the thule bar material once they were tightened, that's how tight they were.

I can’t get the feet off my old bars.

hah! same here
Even after I swore at them!

Great information guys. I feel a little better knowing it’s probably user error rather than a faulty rack system. I will make sure to get them down tight and try again this year.

start with Thule…
They are an excellent company with very good customer relations. I’ve had Thule racks/bars and associated gear since "98 and have yet to experience a problem like you have addressed. Thule would probably want to know about this issue and I’m certain they can help.

I found this old thread, I have the same problem, it’s happened to me a few times in very strong cross winds. I had a canoe and kayak, well tied down.
In extreme gusts, the front bar slides enough through one tower to allow the other tower to deflect and pop off the rail, holy cow! It only has to slide an inch or so to come off the rail on the opposite side. Luckily, I was using front tie downs.
No matter how tightly I clamp them, the bar can still slide through one or both towers if the cross winds are strong enough.
The hose clamps on the bar seems like a good idea to halt the slippage.
But I think the way the tower clamps on the rail lip (Jeep rails) is not adequate, it allows the tower to pop off when deflected. And the plastic coating on the bar doesn’t have a positive grip inside the tower clamp, it seems worse when raining (grrrr!) Not a satisfied Thule customer.

Make/Model/Year of vehicle. Model of Thule foot pack, fit kit and bar length please.

I would need this background for an attempt at a diagnosis.

See you on the water,
Marshall Seddon
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY
845-229-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile

In have the 480 feet and when you clamp down on the square bars it actually dents the bars it grabs them so hard. I wonder what type you have? I cant imagine those bars sliding sideways. At least not in the 480 ones I have .