Thule Roof Rack Mounting Problems / Difficulty

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by gibby, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. gibby

    gibby New Member

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    I purchased the Thule Aero feet, bars and fit kit 2142 for my 2005 Prius on line. It's very hard to install and I spent a few hours figuring it out. I've done installations on my previous cars, but for me this one was a bear. My conclusion is you can't do it as per the instructions enclosed. And, shame on Thule for selling this item as sommething that really works.

    The problem is the difficultly attaching the gutterless plate/bracket to the feet and the tensioning screw part to the rooftop, the parts are too short. It's hard to explain but anyone who has done it knows what I mean.

    The trick is to pre-assemble the bracket with the tensioning screw then mount it to the rooftop by pulling it down and pushing the right angle part of the bracket into the door frame. It takes a lot of strength, pushing and pulling, and grunting. A second person is helpful. The front bar is easier because the rooftop groove that the rubber pad on the bottom of the foot fits into is a liitle closer to the door frame on the forward part of the roof.

    Because of the shortness of the parts the bars need to be closer together than Thule recommends. I emailed Thule months ago when I first tried to install the rack and they never responded, they totally didn't care. I gave up on the installation and tried again today. My wish would be for the Thule people would be to try to install the Fit Kit 2142 and tell me it really works well.

    Maybe another company makes a better solution.
     
  2. IALTMANN

    IALTMANN New Member

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    Return that sucker, you may damage your car, and remove coating thus starting rust!!
     
  3. altaskier

    altaskier New Member

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    I too had this problem when I got the thing. I posted my question here, and got an answer within an hour - but in the meantime I also called rackattack.com (the guys I bought the rack from) and they explained it to me in about 15 seconds. It's quite simple - you rotate the nut downward by threading a bolt in and pulling on it. See this web page.

    My experience is that few companies seem to be very good at responding to e-mail questions from customers. If you telephoned Thule you'd probably get the answer from them pretty quick as well.
     
  4. skijapan

    skijapan Junior Member

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    I'm looking to buy a rack for my car, and I've been thinking about going with Thule. What attatchments do you use (bike, ski, box, etc...)? And how has having a rack affected your mileage? Do you recommend this Thule setup?
     
  5. altaskier

    altaskier New Member

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    I've used both a bike rack and a ski box with the rack. Works fine; stable. Mileage hit is certainly not huge, but I haven't done a systematic comparison.
     
  6. gibby

    gibby New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I still don't think it's as simple as it could be. I did call rackattack when and where I bought the rack. All they said was that it worked and they did not give me any helpful hints. Unfortunately my job precludes me from having the time during the day to call Thule, therefore I had to rely on night time emails. I did receive an email from Thule today since "brow beating" them last week with a complainnt and copy of my posting. Their email to me and my reply are copied below:


    On Oct 28, 2005, at 3:17 PM, Butt, Eric wrote:

    Mr. Gibson,
    I am the product fit engineer here at Thule and I was forwarded your
    comments regarding kit 2142. I'm sorry that your initial question/complaint
    was not answered. I have personally installed kit 2142 on a 2005 Prius so
    the "wish" you referred to in your email has been answered and I can tell
    you that it does work well. All of our kits are installed on the actual
    vehicle they are intended for prior to release. They are not just done on
    computer models or something like that. Having said that, I will not deny
    that the rear feet on the Prius are among the more finicky of our kits to
    install because of the way the rear door line drops off on the Prius. Even
    though people follow the instructions to the letter as far as dimensions,
    etc. there are certain variables that we cannot account for (such as
    misunderstanding of measurement reference points, etc) and these can have an
    affect on how easily or difficult the installation goes. Let me explain a
    quick fix you can try that will get the rear bar on without any more
    aggravation for you. There is a plastic handle on the inside of the foot
    that you should have squeezed to the point where the first of two teeth
    engaged when you set the foot spread. There is a little plastic convex
    washer that goes on the bolt, remove that convex washer. With the rack on
    the car and holding the bracket in place insert the bolt without the washer.
    With this removed you should have no problem reaching the nut inside the
    foot. Tighten the bolt until the plastic handle is drawn in until the second
    tooth engages (you'll hear a click). Once this is engaged remove the bolt
    and put the plastic washer back in, the bolt will reach easily this time
    because the nut is being held out by the second tooth on the handle. That
    should do it, if you still have the kit and try this I would appreciate you
    letting me know how it went. If you've already returned the kit I apologize
    for the difficulty you had not only with the installation but with getting a
    response from out Customer service dept.

    Best regards,

    Eric Butt
    Product fit specialist


    Thank you for the reply. I got the rack mounted eventually last week. But, I did it differently than you described. I pre-attached the brackets to the feet, loosened the screws as much as I could, put the assembly on the roof, then pulled and pushed to "pop" the bracket into the cut out of door frame, then screwed it tight. It was not easy. The problem for me is that I would prefer to take the rack on and off the roof as needed, but it's so much trouble mounting it I can't. As far as "working well" I disagree. I think "it works with difficulty" is a more accurate description. Thule could change one of two things to make it easy to install. Simply supply either a longer bracket or a longer screw.

    Mark
     
  7. gibby

    gibby New Member

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    Certainly there must be a small mileage hit. But, alot less I'm sure then getting a big enough car to fit all my stuff inside compared to the occasional use of a car top carrier on the Prius.

    Does anyone have any experience with the use of a wind deflector / fairing for reducing noise? Does it work?
     
  8. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(gibby @ Oct 29 2005, 07:17 AM) [snapback]147177[/snapback]</div>
    I'm a Yakima guy, but I can tell you that the fairing absolutely makes the bars totally quiet.

    These troubls with "clip-on" systems is what led me to bolt the whole system to the roof and be done with it. I LOVE this system, once you get over the initial hurdle of drilling through the car. ;)

    http://evnut.com/prius_rack_pads.htm
     
  9. ajrowell

    ajrowell New Member

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    I to am a Yakima guy for the racks, they work fine. As Darelldd said, the faring helps a ton on road noise etc. Unlike Darell, I did not drill through my roof but I did find these things to help.

    1 Use two people, this will make it a ton easier and also keep you from getting really upset and frustrated. Learn from my mistake here. I repeat do not install by yourself, you will risk dinging up the car and be really pissed by the end of it, assuming it goes well.

    2 Buy the faring, and intall as stated in the instructions!

    3 If you bike then great! If not you may want to start, because a bike tray or two up top really helps with the front to back rigidity of the rack. If you don't have a front to back attachment (bike tray, box, or cargo tray) then you will be able to slide the racks back and forth if you really try hard. I am paranoid and don't like anything sliding even if it takes 150lbs of force to make it slide. So put the bike trays on and she will not move, even if you give it hell!

    4 Mileage will be affected, not to bad. Expect about 6 to 8% of difference, 10 to 12% if the bikes are up. Yes, the type and size of bike really play a factor, downhill mountain bikes will keep the ICE on, long as you are rolling it seems! A roadie will do much better. But these are negligible amounts and nothing to stress over. Other Prius posters may get upset since you are messing with the beautiful aerodynamics of the car and hurting the mileage, but it is still much better than a big SUV or having to lay the seats down everytime to throw two bikes and two front wheels on top of everything and risk getting black chain grease over my dang near "white" interior.

    5 Please don't put racks on unless you use them. But if you do, nothing is much nicer than pulling up beside a single driver in a Hummer, with your car full, four bikes on top, and then waving at him as he aggressively whips it into the Exxon station!
     
  10. jgills240

    jgills240 Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Dec 5 2006, 05:05 PM) [snapback]358137[/snapback]</div>

    I too am looking for a bolt on system. I was planning on removing the entire rack system (except the bolt on part, of course) while it's not in use to help get the mileage back up. I only have 2 concerns: 1) is the load distribution sufficient for the sheet metal of the roof to support it, and 2) I've never used a Yakima system, being a Thule guy before (has better attachments for surfboards and stuff), is the rack relatively easy to take on and off with the Yakima bolt on system? Or, has anybody done a more thorough study on the MPG losses with a bare base rack system on and off?

    Update: I've decided on the Thule Top Track system. view my install notes: http://thulepriusrack.blogspot.com/
     
  11. rockbert

    rockbert New Member

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    I recently mounted the Thule Aero rack onto my 2007 Prius, and encountered the same problem with the screw on the handle assembly being too short to reach to the tensioning cam in its initial position where only the first ratchet is engaged. As recommended by the Thule engineer, I worked around this problem by removing the convex washer in order to reach the cam and tighten it until the second ratchet is engaged. This puts the cam in reach of the screw when the washer is replaced. This method worked, but I didn't like the way the screw was scoring into the concave slot where the washer sits. For the remaining 3 posts, I therefore used a variant of this method. I purchased a 3" long M8 bolt with 1.25 thread to use in place of the handle assembly to reach the cam and pull it forward. I put the convex washer onto the bolt so as to not score the slot, and tightened it with an ordinary ratchet wrench until the second ratchet was engaged.
     
  12. rockbert

    rockbert New Member

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    Note that the Thule 871 faring will probably not work with most boxes in combination with the (sleek profile) "Aero" bars, even though the Thule website recommends that combination. The faring attaches to the front crossbar via plastic load bar clamps that are used in different ways for the Aero and the square-profile bars. These clamps are attached to the front crossbar using square head bolts which screw into 3-wing knobs. With the square-profile bars, the bolts point down and the knob is under the bar and out of the way. With the Aero bars however, the bolts point up and the knob is over the bar preventing a box from sitting on it. I will be returning the faring as it is unusable for me.

    Note that the faring could still be used with the square-profile bars, or with a bike rack or other load that can tolerate a few knobs protruding above the front crossbar.

    With just the bars (no faring or box installed), there was a lot of noise. However, that noise was much reduced when I installed the box, so I won't bother with a faring.
     
  13. Tadashi

    Tadashi Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Dec 5 2006, 03:05 PM) [snapback]358137[/snapback]</div>
    I also installed the Yakima pads as per Darell's instructions and BTW my racks make no noise and I do not use the fairing (the Thule Spirit Box sits too low).

    The sheet metal is sufficient when the pads are mounted as close as possible to the edge. Bent metal is stronger than flat. Also remember the weight will transferred through the 4 feet as long as you have the bars loaded properly. Darell's has had a crap load of stuff on top of his Prius.
     
  14. Mr07touring

    Mr07touring New Member

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    I have used yakima racks in the past and want to add one to my nearly new prius - the bolt on pads look like a good way to go.
    My question is what bar spread front to back can you achieve with still keeping the two bars equal height ?
    What is the rear dimension from rear roof edge to pad that was used?
    5.5 inches is mentioned for the front.
    I plan on using fork mount bike trays and also carrying windsurfboards roughly 9 feet long- should be easily doable if you can carry sea kayaks, Thanks in advance.
     
  15. Tadashi

    Tadashi Member

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    With my front pads at 5.5" (from the windshield lip) I have my rear pads at 18" from the back roof lip.
     
  16. mootsman

    mootsman New Member

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    I've installed a lot of racks on different vehicles but have never drilled the roof. What are you doing to ensure that you don't drill to deep, i.e., through the headliner?? Is the roof double walled? Thanks!
     
  17. mtskier

    mtskier New Member

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    the key to installing the thule fit kit 2142 is to install the screw and clip on one side only. position that side and the side without the bracket in the correct spot on the roof. make sure you are using the correct reference/measuring points. then install just the screw into the other tower and pull down on the screw to change the angle so when you put the bracket in, its lined up, and plenty long enough.
     
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