How to mount a bike rack on your car

by Spencer Hope Davis
Taking your bike with you adds to the fun of your trip.

Taking your bike with you adds to the fun of your trip.

The process of mounting a bike rack varies depending on the type of rack and your type of vehicle. For most cars, racks that attach to your trunk are a common option. These can be installed without permanent modifications to your car. They make a good choice for a rack because you can remove the rack when you do not need it, which lets you use your trunk space again. You will still need to take care as you mount the rack to ensure that your bikes are held safely in place and that your car is not damaged.

1. Lay the rack on the ground so that all straps and buckles are visible. Position the rack on the ground in the same way that it will be positioned on your trunk. Lay the upper straps and hooks above the rack and allow the lower straps to fall below the rack. Make sure all straps are knot free and that the hooks are not damaged. On the body of the rack make sure that all levers are not overly tightened so that when you are ready to mount your bikes the levers can be adjusted quickly.

2. Open your trunk. Slide the upper hooks into the top of your trunk lid. This should be in the area near your rear window glass. Make sure the straps coming from the hooks are not tangled in any way, and that you are placing the right strap to the right and the left strap to the left. There will be no more than two straps for this part of the rack mount. Slide the hooks away from each other across the trunk rim so that they are no more than 4 to 6 inches wider than the body of the rack. Do not tighten the straps yet.

3. Move the body of the rack into place. In this step you are choosing the general position that you would like the bike rack to be on your trunk. It is best to position the rack in the middle of the trunk. This will allow for the weight of the bikes to be evenly distributed. The only time you will choose to mount the rack off center will be in the case where you have multiple bikes, or where a particular bike has a long body that can protrude past the sides of the car, making it a driving hazard. For now, center the rack.

4. Grab the bottom straps and place their hooks onto the bottom of the truck lid near the bumper area. You will be dealing with two straps. These straps must be positioned in the middle of the body of the rack to provide it with balance. At this point, leave the straps loose enough for final adjustment but tight enough so they allow some tension from the hooks.

5. Close your trunk. At this stage the body of the rack should be loosely held in place by the top and lower strap hooks. Examine the top and bottom hooks to make sure that now that the trunk lid is closed that the hooks are held firmly in place. Even though the straps are still somewhat loose the hooks should not be moving at all. They should be not be spaced sideways or in an ill fitting manner. If the hooks don't fit properly, open the trunk and adjust them.

6. Move the body of the rack into the final position. You will be doing this with loose straps. Once you have the rack in position and centered between the rack hooks on the trunk, begin tightening the straps. Tighten the straps one at a time, making sure you are not fully tightening each. If you fully tighten a strap before making sure that the others are in place, you will have an unbalanced rack that will be prone to sliding and potentially damage your car and bikes.

Items you will need

  • Bicycle Rack/Carrier
  • 3M clear tape

Warnings

  • Always make sure the belts are not touching any sharp objects that might cut the belts.
  • Always check if the belts are worn out or any lose ends near the hooks.
  • Always follow the instruction manual that came along with your bike carrier to make sure you have the correct assembly.

About the Author

Spencer Hope Davis has been covering topics such as work balance, travel and health since 2001. An alumna of Cleveland State University and Kent State University, Davis earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in justice studies.

Photo Credits

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