How to Fit a Thule Roof Rack

Updated February 21, 2017

Fitting a Thule roof rack to your car allows you to transport cargo that would otherwise take up trunk space or would not be transportable altogether. Whitewater and sea kayaks, mountain and road bikes, luggage, building supplies, Christmas trees...the versatile Thule roof rack system gives you options that are unavailable with a rack-less car. There are several models of Thule roof rack, but the only big differences are between two types of Thule racks: Thule rack models designed for vehicles without rain gutters or factory racks and those designed for cars with gutters. However, mounting the two types varies little.

Wash your car, particularly the roof. Remove the components of the Thule roof rack and separate them, one component per pile. There are only two load bars, but there will be four of every other component.

Lift the tension-cam lever to release the tension between the Thule rack system's foot and the load bar eye. Release the tension on every foot. Once you release the tension from each, lift the load bar eyes up from the tops of the feet.

Insert one end of one of the two load bars into the eye of one foot. Insert the other end of that load bar into the eye of another foot. Do the same with the other load bar. You will have one foot on each end of each of the two load bars. Make certain the tension cams are facing the centre of the bar; the tension cams should face one another.

Find the dimensions of your model of car when looking through the Thule fit-kit instructions. Measure out the distance given in the owner's manual on the two load bars. Move the feet towards one another, or away from one another, until their distances from one another are equal to that provided for your car in the fit-kit instructions. Push the tension cams back into the housings of the feet until you hear them click into place. When you hear the click, you know the feet are locked to the load bar. Place the end caps on the ends of the load bars.

Attach the foot pads to the bottom of the racks feet. There are numbers on the pads that correspond to numbers on the feet. Screw the brackets onto the faces of the feet using the levered hex-nut bolts provided. Again, there are corresponding numbers relating each bracket to a particular foot. Refer to your fit-kit instructions if you are unsure which bracket goes with which foot.

Determine where you want to place the rack on your vehicle's roof. You can quickly change the placement later if you do not like your original choice. However, make certain the feet of your front load bar are equal in distance from the front windshield and that the feet of your back load bar are equal in distance from the back windshield.

Set the toe of the foot's base under the gutter, or rail if your car has no gutters, with the mounting bracket over the gutter or rail. Screw the retaining bolts of the brackets into the feet with the lever handle. Move from one side of the vehicle to the other as many times as necessary. Make only two or three turns at a time to ensure the rack has a balanced fit on the roof of the car. Use the same process for the front and back load bars.

Back the bolts off the feet two turns, once you have completely screwed the levered bolts into the feet of the rack. Force the levers toward the rack's feet to lock the brackets down on the gutter or rail. Your Thule rack is mounted on your car and is ready to carry cargo.

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