wind deflector for kayak rack?

Is there any such thing? do they help w/ gas milage? I suppose racks with kayaks on them don’t contribute to good gas milage anyway but since we never take the racks off the vehicles is there something you can put on the front to deflect the wind w/ an empty rack?

Thule and Yakima make fairings that fit on and in front of the lead bar. The fairing comes up to bar level but not kayak carrier level. Anything sticking up in the airstream is going to create turbulence but theoretically it would even out the airflow more than without.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Had 'em…discarded them…
I have had both Thule and Yakima over the years with deflectors. I found them to be more added weight and trouble than they are worth so don’t use them. I have heard from others that if your bars make noise, to simply wrap tubing or other material around them to break up the smooth profile.

I just close my windows or put a boat up there to cut down on the noise!


Rack makers have them
We never considered using one with the racks on the Ford/Mercury Taurus/Sable wagons because the racks tend to be quiet. We put one on the Subaru Outback because that roof and Yakima towers and rails are darned noisy. It works miraculously well.

It might help with mileage - maybe the engineers can weigh in - I am skeptical about that. But at least I can hear the radio on a normal setting now.

Id be surprised
if the fairings made a difference on mpg, compared to driving 5mph slower

Take the rack off
I have the Yakima rack which does make an ennoying humming sound.

I simply take the rack off when not in use,it only takes minutes to re-install once you mark your roof.

I used auto touchup paint and made thin lines around the towers.

I clocked myself at 2:17 seconds to re-install,less then a minute to take off.

Cut noise AND mileage
A paddling friend with a Pontiac Vibe, the factory twin to my Toyota Matrix, briefly installed a wind deflector on his Yakima roof rack. He found that on a several-hundred-mile trip, it significantly reduced the wind noise of his rack, but also cut down his fuel mileage.

As aerodynamically ‘dirty’ as a rack with kayak cradles is, it still presents less frontal area than the wind deflector does, hence the reduced fuel economy, at least with his particular car.

As always, and perhaps finally appropriately, your mileage may vary …


I recall another Outback owner saying
that his fairing improved mileage a little when on the car, no boats on top, but didn’t make a difference when boats were on. Makes sense, but small differences are hard to measure reliably.

I bought Yakima fairings for both our Outback and our Accord (at a discount… list price is outrageous) and was not happy with them. They seem to force air up into the overturned canoe, rather than letting it find its own way. And on the Accord, the fairing mounting clamps conflicted with the gunwales of our tandem canoe in a way that made for serious, unresolvable mounting problems. (I wrote Yakima about this.)

Anyway, I took off both fairings and went back to using Yakima Windjammers, a cheaper but still overpriced alternative at $12 apiece. These are snap-on segments that have a streamlined shape, eliminate rack hum, and almost certainly are more aerodynamic than round bars. A couple on the front bars is sufficient. Windjammers don’t force air up into the canoe, but allow it to find its own path.