Thule Roof Racks, planned obselescense

Back in 2015 I changed cars, and because Yakima didn’t offer a fit for the new car, I changed from Yakima to Thule. I’ve always been happy with the quality of design and materials from both companies, and figured the high price was justified given the importance of the connection between boat and car.

I now would like to change to longer load bars on the Thule (to more easily fit two boats side-by-side, and have found that they no longer make the same towers (480 Traverse), offer fit kits for those towers, or offer longer load bars. As I bring my rack inside when not in use, the towers, pads, and bars are all in good shape and will probably last many more years. Throwing them in the landfill and spending hundreds of dollars on new stuff is not going to happen.

This isn’t a huge issue, as I will probably just bolt some wood to the existing bars, but it sure sours my opinion of Thule. I expected better.

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Yes, it’s annoying. I had the same problem when I couldn’t use my perfectly good 480 Traverse towers and bars on my new car - no fit kit. I had to buy a whole new Thule Evo system.

Check ebay or another source as I expect that you could easily find longer bars that work with your old towers there.


Well Dang! I haven’t need to look for a few years. Nothing longer than 60" for Thule at RAckAttack. Oh, I take that back Thule does seem to offer a ‘ProBar’ at 69" & 79". Won’t fit my adapters (same for both Subaru’s). Looks like those are for trucks & big vans though.

I’ve been running 78" square load bars for ~30 years. I may have to baby my current set more than I do.

I see a lot of those parts on eBay.

Thule 480r Rapid Traverse Roof Rack - FREE SHIPPING
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so I figure both thule and yakima have a fairly short window for parts. Because the cars are always being redesigned they emphasize getting the system after you buy the new car and they have come up with a solution. Gone are ez clips and roof gutters but it was fun while it lasted!

When I wanted to take many canoes and kayaks on a trip I simply lashed 2x4s to the existing rack and crossbars. Those lashings held up well. I left them on there for a year or two and finally noticed the cordage was wearing out and did away with the 2x4s. Long bars work better on vehicles where hitting your head or face is not an issue. I never bring them out past the side mirrors. I can’t imagine taking my rack off the vehicle but I can see where it would extend the racks life. I do check the towers and crossbars regularly. I have yakima crossbars but I would think thule would be the way to go if you use vertical stacker bars. My stackers slip on the round yakima bars. I’ve rusted out one set of yakima bars. My second set seems to be holding up well.

Me going into the parking garage at the gym.:scream_cat:

My goto source for racks is Facebook Marketplace. You do have to understand the racks and how each go together, however, I have been able to buy at 10 cents on the dollar off list price for equipment that has had almost zero use

Thanks all!

The whole thing is just made more complicated by Thule - there doesn’t seem to be any user-friendly information on compatibility between all the parts they make. Today I discovered, for instance, that my 480 Traverse feet are incompatible with most bars, but if I had the 480 Rapid Traverse (sometimes called 480r) feet some of the newer bars would fit. I don’t see why they couldn’t make a guide/flow-chart/widget that showed the compatibility of discontinued product and new product. Alternatively, they could make adapters to mate the different towers to different bars (as it seems Yakima now does). Or, be like Trangia of Sweden and make a design and stick with it for decades (those stoves are fantastic)!

As for taking the racks off, it takes me less than 30 seconds, I save gas on the highway, and I avoid bumping my head!

I miss rain gutters on cars and trucks. When we had those you could make a rack for $50 that would hold 2 or 3 canoes.

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I finally pitched mine a year or two ago. It was originally my fathers. He got it in the late 50’s for carrying ladders, lumber and such on the ‘55 Bel Air. I used it for my 18’ ft Grumman, which I sold about the same time rain gutters disappeared. :frowning_face:

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Wouldn’t it be great if more companies did that? Love my Trangia! Think about the amount of stuff that gets thrown out simply because you can’t get parts…or upgrade the operation system. Apple does not support any product past 5 years.

I ran into this problem with an old Thule roof rack. It had been used on a Jeep Liberty circa 2002, and then later on a Subaru XV Crosstrek until about 2020 or so, when the plastic and rubber bits on the towers deteriorated too much. Imagine my surprise when I saw that I couldn’t get towers for the old plain square bars anymore unless I wanted to buy someone else’s clapped out crap.

I was under the impression that Thule and Yakima saddles and towers had become more adaptable to accommodate different roof rails and crossbars. However, it’s been a long time since I had to change cars.

To their credit, Inno hasn’t changed the towers used for their square bars since I bought one of their racks for a 2009 Honda Fit. Since then, they have introduced an aero-bar line, but the square-bar system appears unchanged. And their square (rectangular) bars are the same size as Thule. A drawback with my Inno rack was that the rubber feet in the fit kit weren’t perfectly customized for the car. For example, the pads had flat bottoms and weren’t contoured to match the roof contour like a Thule or Yakima kit. Inno appears to have dozens of combinations of fit-kit parts and they specify a combo that gives a semi-custom fit for a specific vehicle.

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I mean, they have. but that also means that some older rack systems got discontinued. Thule’s new square bars have slots in them. Those bars, I think, are compatible with their old square bar towers, but the old bars are not compatible with any new towers. I already had a set of the older style square bars and could not track down any new towers to use with them.

to be fair, the newer aero bar type systems are better than older aero bar racks used to be. And that’s great. I love the t-slots in the Yakima Overhaul HD rack I have on my truck. but roof rack systems are expensive enough that if I’ve bought into a system, I’d rather stay within that system if I can to minimize the expense of buying a whole new rack system.

the complaint I had about the old Thule rack is kinda moot at this point. That car has been sold and the car that replaced it uses a totally different system. We haven’t bought a rack for it yet, but we will have to drop some coin on it before spring really sets in. That car needs a hitch receiver for the bike rack and cross bars to haul boats.

This won’t be a practical solution for many people but once I got tired of the new car equals a new rack system, I stopped using my car to carry my canoes/kayaks. Instead, since I already have a Tacoma pick-up with a cap, I’ve permanently attached gutter clips to the rear of the cap and use the racks that I’ve had for years. For the front I purchased a bar system that sits on the roof of the truck that attaches with suction cups and a strap that passes through the cab of the truck. Since I have an access cab, the strap passes through behind the seats so it’s never in the way. I’ve been using this set-up now for three trucks over 15 years and have never had a problem of any kind; and I’ve saved a lot of $$$ not having to change my rack system when I get a different truck.

That’s all for now. Take care and until next time…be well.


I bumped into an issue w the slotted bars. The rest of my stuff is in good shape including the component to work with the non-slotted bars. I picked up two bars in good shape used and have an extra FitKit due to overzealous tightening by a friend. During the pandemic when the only way to get the darned bolt was to buy a whole FitKit.

That last part worked out OK because another bolt got snapped last fall. I was prepared.

I settled on make and model of car a while ago, should be OK until they do a massive redesign of it.

Update - I “solved” the load bar issue. The metals place sold me a 1"x0.5" piece of flat bar stock that fits nicely through the existing bars. Not a perfect fit (actual inside dimensions are about 25mmx15mm, so that 15mm is 3/5 of an inch rather than half), but close enough. Incidentally, they only had one, so I went to a different business and got another. Exactly the same 6160 T6, one was $60, the other $35!

This discussion reminds me of advice I saw years ago on the topic. It was this: If you own a car with roof gutters don’t ever sell it.



I’ve been driving long roof vehicles since about 1975, and have always had roof rails to attach Yakima or Thule racks. Very easy, almost universal fit.

Then even factory roof rails got funky. The rails on my wife’s Audi are different than traditional rails…there’s no opening at the bottom so I need a different style clamp.

Then three years ago I replaced my Audi wagon with a new (to me) SUV and it turns out that factory roof rails come on about 25% of this particular model. So…roof rails were a mandatory option, along with a couple of other items that made it a bit of a unicorn, and I ended up finding my SUV (with roof rails) about 1500 miles away in Wisconsin.

Factory rails do tend to help protect your rack investment, whether it’s Thule or Yakima.