Where to tie down with no tow loops

-- Last Updated: Aug-29-14 7:52 AM EST --

I have a 2013 Chevy Equinox(naked roof no side rails) and a Yakima roof rack with a Jaylow J style rack. I'd like to tie down the bow and stern on my 10.5 ft kayak but there are no tow loops and no obvious places to hook the s hooks.

There are various metal bits that appear to be part of the frame. How do I know what the best spot to use would be. Is there a good rule of thumb?


Thule makes some hood loops that bolt in under your hood, but the car has a plastic cowling under the hood that covers the bolts so I couldn't use those. This is crazy.

They also make loops that don’t require the bolting, but you can duplicate them with some nylon line and 1" heater hose (available at any auto parts store). Cut 3 or 4" of heater hose and drill two holes through it, spaced about 1.5" apart. Run the ends of the line all the way through the sets of holes and tie on the opposite side. Close your hood with the hose end inside and pull taut. If you want extra security, slide a dowel inside the hose.

What I did
In the engine compartment along the side of the hood find a part of the frame or some holes you can put some rope through or around, tie it in a loop, close the hood with the loop hanging out and you have a tie down spot.

In my case when I don’t need them I can put the loops over two vertical bumpers in front that the hood rests on when closed so they are ready for next time.

Should be easy to do on the trunk, tie off to the hinges.

Good question!
This is a good question about how to tie down a canoe or kayak on a car that does not have installed roof racks. You can use Thule or other good name after-market roof racks, but today’s cars do not have rain gutters and the the wind forces on a canoe at 60+ miles per hour can be enormous.

Tying down to the roof racks is nice, but don’t even consider driving with a canoe or Kayak on your car if it is not connected directly to the frame of the car via tiep-downs.

The very worst cars for tie-down access are the small foreign cars - Japanese and Korean cars. These cars are designed and manufactured by tiny city people without any consideration of American outdoor lifestyles. These same designers cannot imagine a land where there are people like me who have with bigger diameter than drinking straws. I often curse the city kid who designed my Japanese cars that are so difficult to access the under chasis.

Anyway, you have to do a lot of exploration, but USUALLY there are a couple of useable holes in the frame that you can loop S-hooks into for use with your tie-down. If not, then you can have some holes drilled into the frame and tapped. This is not too expensive and you can do it yourself with less than fifteen dollars in drill and tap tools. If you have to drill, then get some stout stainless steel eyebolts and drill and tap the frame to match the size and threading of your eyebolts.

If you put eyebolts into your frame, it will be immensly easier to hook your S-hooks to than crawling under the car looking for the holes in the frame. ALSO, if you use eyebolts, you can use carabiner type hooks with your tie down instead of S-hooks.

Fro’ de haars’s a…

– Last Updated: Aug-29-14 11:12 AM EST –



That plastic cowling:

– Last Updated: Aug-29-14 11:27 AM EST –

Based on what you've said, I can't picture what that cowling might be, but is there any reason you can't cut it? When I weld a tow hook to the frame of a company pickup, I have to cut a hole in the plastic bumper cover/skirt. No harm done. Under the hood, I'm guessing that it shouldn't matter what you do to make bolts accessible.

but I still drive a stone wheel!
Fortunately it was made by big dumb people with big hands.

pvc pipe toggles
I made a few of the “slam in the hood/trunk” toggle loops by tying a length of 1" climbing webbing through some short lengths of 1 1/2" PVC pipe I had left over from bathroom remodeling.

But I agree that frame tie off is the best bet – I wish more manufacturers would add welded loops or provide holes in the frames for tying off, like many pickup trucks have. I miss my old Volvo wagons, which had nice steel bumpers with places to tie to.

By the way, be careful using carabiner type clips – many of these things are extremely flimsy and can easily deform and release, even break, under stress. I’ve always trusted the heavier gauge S-hooks from hardware stores or the ones that come with the ready-made boat tie off cords. If you know somebody who used to do rock climbing, they may have old REAL climbing carabiners – these are usually retired by climbers after they have been involved in leader falls or show signs of wear. But they are rated for tons of impact and even beat up are way more than adequate for hooking up boats. They are also often equipped with lockable gates, so they can’t be knocked loose.

Careful Now…
I agree when it comes to the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3. Both too low to the ground to change oil without ramps. But my 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring has 3 very accessible hooks up front and a place to screw in a hook in the back. The problem is this… America hates wagons so they discontinued it. Glad I got mine!

Webbing Loops
I just cut a couple of 6" pieces of webbing, align the ends, and burn a hole thru the two layers. I then open the bonnet, remove a fender bolt on each side, and reinstall it with the bolt thru the hole in the loops. They can then be allowed to stick out when you need a tiedown point, or be folded under the hood when not in use. Quick, easy, cheap and works like a charm.

The engineering isn’t done that way.
It’s not a matter of engineers not knowing how big a mechanic’s hands might be, or deliberately overlooking ways of making cars more suitable for a very small minority of people with outdoor interests (whom any car maker could do without as customers and see no recognizable trace of the missed revenue). It’s a matter of needing to fit more and more stuff into smaller and smaller spaces, needing to reduce weight while maintaining strength, needing to decrease drag as much as practical, and needing to make every aspect of production cheaper and cheaper as the ability to do so evolves. This ain’t 1971 anymore.