Yakima rack noise

My 58" racks make a lot of loud humming at speeds above 40mph, with or without a load. I’ve tried damping the noise with foam blocks, with little improvement. What cheap tricks have y’all found to silence the noise?

Rack Noise
Some racks, on some vehicles require air dams (deflectors) or they will make terrible noise. I’ve had the problem on a GMC van and on a GMC Colorado pickup. The rack on the van was shop made. I cured the problem with a deflector fabricated from hardboard and and painted to match. The rack on the Colorado is a Yakima and I bought the deflector from Yakima. In both cases the problem was eliminated.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Canoe Paddles And Cedar Strip Canoes

I gave up on fairings, because they
force air up into my canoe instead of allowing the air to flow between the canoe and the car.

I use the product Yakima calls a “Windjammer.” It is overpriced like everything else, but a Windjammer is a clip on plastic device with a teardrop cross section. Usually two Windjammers on the front rack will end the moaning noise. I have cut Windjammers into segments, so that I can cover most of the front rack and the outer wings of the rear rack with the teardrop segments. Probably reduces wind resistance a little, maybe not as much as a fairing does when there is no boat on the car. Or, maybe it does.

I have two fairing kits sitting in the drawer. Another drawback to fairings is that the fairing brackets may occupy exactly the same position on the front crossbar that the gunwales of a typical tandem canoe want to sit. I spent a lot of time trying to solve that problem, never found a solution that worked well, and so since the Windjammers are about as quiet as fairings, and maybe as aerodynamic, especially with a canoe on board, that ended my flirtation with fairings.

Incidentally, when carrying kayaks
rather than canoes, the fairing is a better aerodynamic solution than Windjammers. The presence of kayaks on edge does not interfere much with the air stream thrown upward from the fairing.

In all the vehicles I have owned when transporting kayaks, albeit, I have not owned many,

A 1994 z22 Chev Cavalier (used yakima qtowers with mako saddles)

A 1998 Ford Contour with the same rigging as the cavalier

and now a 2008 Mazda b3000 with the Yakima Outdoorsman

I have never encountered this problem


– Last Updated: Apr-07-09 12:20 AM EST –

drove me nuts on a trip from Miami to Tampa. On the way back, it got so bad I stopped at a K-Mart that was having the last gasp of its going out of business sale and bought some pool noodles and wide cellophane wrapping tape, and in the beginnings of a thunderstorm, slit the noodles lengthwise and to fit the bar length, wrapped them around the bars, and taped them tight.

The howl was gone for well under ten bucks. We've been wrapping both our Thules and Yaklimas ever since.

Side benefit? You can much more easily spot your car in the lot at the mall or grocery store if you use, say, orange or yellow ones... Secondary side benefit? We were driving along in our red Jeep Grand Cherokee, with the extra-big red pool noodles on top. We usually drive with our lights on as a safety precaution, and two cars we approached from behind must've checked their rear-view mirrors when we approached. They pulled over and let us by -guess they thought we were some sort of fire chief or emergency vehicle (in a hurry). That was a real giggle...

At any rate, it's an easy fix that lasts at least a season (we've had some on for maybe 9 months down here in South Florida before we needed to replace hem) that's an inexpensive fix with side benefits. try some, and you'll feel -and hear! -a lot better, especially sans a boat, especially when you're not on your way somewhere to


-Frank in Miami

Rack noise
Get some of the black foam pipe insulation sold at any hardware store. Put it on the cross bars and wrap with electical tape in a few places.

I’ve been in vehicles where it was not
a problem. I think the humming or moaning noise is more likely with the round Yakima bars than with Thule rectangular bars. Round bars set up an oscillating air train that creates the noise. I had a VW Dasher wagon with big rectangular crossbars, no moaning. And the rectangular crossbars on our VW Quantum wagon didn’t moan either.

spiral rope along the front bar
I think it was on pnet that I saw this recommendation awhile back. Wrapping rope around the front bar, spiraling around the bar a few times along the length, cuts down on the noise. On my Honda CRV the noise is worst with the rack empty. The rope helps on 48" bars on my car, YMMV.

Windjammer works on my Santa Fe, still whistles but the humming noise is gone.

In my case…
I simply moved the front bar back about two inches.

Keep in mind, the air coming off the windshield should not be interrupted by the bars.


Windjammers work.
Usually all you need is one on the front rack. I had taken mine off, and had misplaced it, and the noise was quite noriceable. With th e WJ on, the noise is basically gone.

I too have a fairing, gathering dust in the storage room.


Wind Jammer angle
Do you use it straight (parallel to the roof) and in the center of your rack? Or do you angle it a bit? I cannot tell a difference when its on…


Wow - lot’s of things to try!
Thanks for all the suggestions, folks! Time to try experimenting…

I use 2 and space them evenly.
They adjust to wind force when you’re at speed.

But then, you knew that.

Nope, I did not!! One of those “duh” moments!

First thing I tried, 'cause it’s free and easy. Moved the front rack back about 4", and the moan is gone. Just a slight hint of whistle now, which I can easily ignore.

I love it when the first attempt works!

I used to have responsibility for noise for a major manufacturer. Wind noise is the #1 customer complaint in vehicles so much time is spent in wind tunnels and even still much fine tuning is done by trial and error.

The round bar shape is the worst possible shape for aerodynamics and that’s why factory racks have slender crossbar shapes. The front bar takes direct (clean) air and the rear is usually not a problem due to more turbulent flow.

The major OEM’s sometime even optimize the fore-aft placement of crossbars on vehicles sensitive to bar “hum”…some vehicles come from factory with both bars at the full rear position.

So you got perfect advice - putz around with the fore-aft position of the front bar, try changing the shape of the bar with pipe insulation or pool noodle foam or rope (or Yakima bar pads) and as a last resort go buy the Yakima wing since that will eliminate the problem…although you might need two little wings to clean up a wide bar.

A Thule rectangular bar may be a little better but the shape is still conducive to bar hum.

It can be hard to fully eliminate the problem so a rack that detaches easily seems like the best solution.

Easily detachable rack?
So, what might be some good choices for a small sedan? I definitely would like to use a rack on top of my car only when transporting a kayak… and leave it off the rest of the time.

Suggestions greatly appreciated… thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

not sure for small sedan
My best rack for quick detach was a Thule. It had brackets that attached to the vehicle permanently by clamping in to the channels in the roof made for the factory rack. Then one could snap the rack on and off in way less than one minute. I saw a Honda CRV that had a Yakima with similar set-up…brackets staying on vehicle and rack snapped to brackets.

You’d have to look at the rack makers websites to see if there’s anything similar for sedans.