04 Mar 2012 Installing a Yakima Roof Rack
Yakima makes good racks. We use them on our bike tour vans:
And our personal tiny convertibles:
We have a ton of rack parts in stock at the store, and we can always order specific stuff. Give us a call at 1.800.272.4141, or stop in the store.
Anyway, on a vehicle without factory rack mounts, like the VW GTI below, there are three parts to Yakima base rack system. Cross bars hold your stuff (boats, bikes, dogs, or what ever you’re into) Q-Towers grab the cross bars, and Q-Clips clamp the Q-Towers onto the roof.
There’s a different set of Q-Clips for every vehicle, but the rest of the rack system is universal. Yakima has a fit finder help you find the Q-Clips you need.
The racks come with detailed instructions, so I’m not going to rewrite them. But here’s a basic overview. It usually takes about an hour to install a rack.
1. Slide the Q-Clips into the Q-Towers. In the photo, we used rusted Q-Towers to make it easier to see the difference between the two pieces.
2. Measure and set the distance between the Q-Towers. This part is important, because the towers need to straddle the roof correctly. It’s never fun to loose a rack full of gear on the interstate.
The towers clamp on the cross-bars with a 5mm hex bolt.
(I wonder if that blue tinsel will stay up all summer.)
3. Set the Q-Towers on the car, and clip the Q-Clips into the window or rain gutter (put it where the instructions tell you.)
This VW had some arrows on the windows to help line up the rack:
Then use the little silver knobs on the Q-Towers to adjust the clamp tension. This is the finicky part. Both sides need to have even tension, or the rack will fall off on the interstate. Again, that sucks.
It’s a lot easier if you have a good friend help so that you can adjust both sides at the same time. Since it was cold outside and I’m not a good friend, I let Zane adjust the tension by himself.
4. Make some coffee while your friend struggles to adjust the tension on his rack. A mug with a John Wayne quote is recommended, but not required.
5. Check in on the tensioning process from the comfort of the porch.
If no progress has been made, go surf the interwebs.
6. Check in again.
Still no progress. Like I said, getting that tension even can be tricky. If it’s been over an hour, it’s probably best to go take a nap.
When you wake up, your friend should be done installing the rack.