Thule Tracker II roof rack on Prius C - solid and removable!

Discussion in 'Prius c Accessories and Modifications' started by Reid_in_QC, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Reid_in_QC

    Reid_in_QC New Member

    Jun 10, 2018
    les C├Ędres, QC
    2012 Prius c
    We acquired a used 2012 Prius C last fall and I immediately starting reading up on rack solutions for the cargo box, bike racks and canoe carrier necessary to make this rather small car meet all our family's needs. Like many of you I was surprised that there was no simple roof rack solution for the Prius C. My thanks to other forum members for speeding my education on the subject.

    Lucky for me I am fond of drilling holes in shiny things and even more than that I like things to be strong, and clever if possible. To that end I pieced together a sweet system from new and old Thule parts including bolt-on rails and removable Tracker feet. I'm quite pleased with the results.

    "top tracks" rails were still available new from Thule though at first a local dealer was unable to order them for me. I ordered online from Thule and they came in the mail. Instructions were adequate, the kit was complete, decent silicone sealant and an adequate rivnut setter were included. No challenges drilling and installing roof rails with a bit of patience. 8 stainless rivnuts per rail gives me confidence. I think they'll stay put.

    I don't seem to have photos from the rail install but I can take some if it would be useful to someone.

    Here's a recent pic showing the rails pretty clearly

    The real beauty of my system came from remembering Thule's old Tracker II feet/towers. These were often used to install load removable bars on truck toppers, RVs, etc and they are nifty cool, though no longer available new. I had to get them used through eBay and get the correct Tracker base for rails from another vendor but they're great! Rails wear only small feet when the bars are removed and removal/install is tool-free but racks can lock to rails when mounted using standard Thule key tumblers. That translates as, "schlack, schlack" we have a roof rack... "yoink, yoink" it's gone! Literally seconds.

    I think Yakima also made or makes some kind of removable tower for rail mounted bases but I'm not sure.

    In the winter I actually keep the roof rack bars attached to the ski box and hang the whole assembly from two ropes above the car in our garage. Releasing the ropes drops the ski box and bars onto the waiting rail-mounted bases below. Click, click, click, click there's a ski box on our car. Sorry no photos of that either but hopefully I'll think to take some this summer when we load the box to go camping with the kids.

    The combination of removable bars and solidly mounted roof rails is almost perfect in my mind. It takes some doing as certain parts are obsolete and not available new but you can find what you need on eBay. I ended up just buying the load bars used locally, even with the old style wind deflector, which I pruned to Prius C dimensions, for something like $50. All told the project still cost several hundred bucks but it's way nicer than anything on offer new, in my opinion.

    The last piece of the puzzle took longer to assemble and I only finished today: a proper solid canoe carrier for our rather hefty canoe. Given that the front end of the C offers next to nothing solid for a bow rope I opted to make really strong brackets to pinch and strap the canoe as securely as possible to the roof bars and forego bow and stern ropes. This meant building brackets from scratch and though it took a few hours I was so pleased with the result that I even painted them (rare for me).

    The final touches of used belting as padding went on yesterday and today we went canoeing with our two kids and our large dog. It's kinda dog _or_ luggage but still a pretty good load for a Prius C. The canoe is a 15' Grumman that weighs about 70 lbs. It's quite a bit longer than the car but the bike rack on the rear hitch clears okay and the hatchback still opens about 70% of the way with the canoe on. Tested up to 100km/h with nary a wiggle. I say success.

    More photos to come when I remount the cargo box. Initial measurements suggest that it'll fit without removing canoe brackets and both are designed for same bar spacing.

    Yes this canoe rack is very specific to our canoe and might not work for any other. That's okay with me for now. My dad bought this canoe when I was a kid and it's aging far better than me so I think I can count on it for a few more decades.

    Here's hoping this helps someone else who buys a Prius C, realizes how few options there are and likes drilling holes in the roof of his or her car :)

    ~ reid
    cyeremian and skayaks like this.
  2. cyeremian

    cyeremian Member

    Apr 10, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    2012 Prius c
    very clean set up. Looks good. I like the wheels too!
  3. Peter_C

    Peter_C Junior Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    Nice job!

    Going to add to your post since it is the first one I have seen covering track mounts on a Prius C. The new Prius C's come with the rack mounts from the factory, but they are discontinuing the car.

    I did something similar with both of our cars for hauling canoes, kayaks, skis, snowboards, wood and other stuff. The clamp on version of racks are not an option for the Prius C as they are not secure enough with the angle of the back door, in my mind, and were questionable on my Gen 2 Prius. So I drilled a lot of holes to mount the tracks, which I have done for other vehicle rack systems. This time I went with Yakima racks after playing with them all, and have 16 matching keys for both rack systems plus accessories like the kayak saddles and ski racks. All major parts came from Ebay, Amazon, and Outdoor Playsports, and I was able to get at least a 20%-60% discount on everything, which still wound up being hundreds of dollars, X2 rack systems. Both rack systems go on and off the vehicle in 30 seconds, including locking them, or unlocking them. With a playboat on the roof this past Sunday and my wife driving, we got 44.5 mpg per the vehicle, at times cruising at 70mph. My Audi Quattro is lucky to get 20 mpg...burning only premium fuel. Ugg, sports cars, which is why the wife's Prius also has racks.


    With the Prius C I removed the headliner before even considering drilling holes as we have sunroofs on both vehicles. Good thing as not all the holes in the track were usable. For most people this is going to be out of their comfort level, and does take a fair amount of tools.

    Plus if you push down on the front of your track you will find it moves a lot! By gluing the roof to the body frame with PL Premium it removed all of that deflection, and there were 6 areas that got glue filling the gap and making the roof way more solid. I used tape to keep the glue from dripping as it dried.
    The Audi I didn't remove the headliner and just blindly drilled for nutserts (Make sure to use a depth stop!), as I have the proper Marson nutsert tool. The Audi *almost* went sideways, and I fought two of the holes near the sunroof framework. Very glad I pulled the headliner on the Prius C, and was able to measure and see where I was going to drill, plus get paint back onto the bare metal.

    I put the 54" tracks onto the Prius and wished I had cut them down to 42". You can buy the 42" from the get go, but I got a smokin' deal on both the 54" track sets and did cut the Audi's down to 42". You can see how much track extends beyond the rear rack that is unneeded.
    IMG_1521.JPG Just checking to see if the width of the saddles was going to be good for the different kayaks. IMG_1533.JPG IMG_1512.JPG IMG_1508.JPG
    When hauling the larger canoes and kayaks I am a firm believer in trying them front and rear. You can buy straps for the purpose, but I just make my own out of 1" tubular webbing, purchased from REI for $.045 a foot. A couple passes thru the sewing machine and then melt holes thru them for the bolts. (Sewing isn't really necessary, but from now on I sew them on both sides of the bolts, as better safe than sorry. I have a grommet kit, but don't really see a need, as the racks themselves are already very solid.) The bolts actually came from the local Ace Hardware, and I used stainless with a fender washer. For the rear tie down I have a 2" receiver hitch I built for a Thule T2 bike rack, or a flat rack for hauling gear. I just throw a ball receiver in and tie the stern to that. I have never towed with the vehicle, but do have the wiring harness installed, and own a small folding trailer.
    Any of the major rack retailers that do installs can put the tracks on for you. As to cost I have no idea, but prepare for a sticker shock!
    skayaks likes this.
  4. Matt H

    Matt H Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Okinawa Japan
    2012 Aqua
    I carry two 18' sea kayaks on clamp-on Yakima Whispbars. Five years on the car now, and haven't needed to touch them. Of course they're $500, but you pay for quality. 11924219_1181251621891304_9122671374194441525_n.jpg