Do Bike Racks Damage Or Scratch Your Car?

When you have to transport the bikes, “Do bike racks damage your car?” becomes the main concern for many bikers. Because everyone wants to have fun but not at the cost of their car being damaged or scratched. 

Well, a simple answer to your conscious mind is; “Yes, bike racks can damage your car and poses threats to your car under certain situations”. But it does not mean, you should stop using the bike rack because there are ways to prevent yourself from experiencing it. Also, the damage or scratch doesn’t happen to all cars, it mostly turns out to be a consequence of the biker’s negligence. 

To unveil the truth on why and when the bike rack can prove to be damaging for your car and how to prevent it, we have crafted this detailed guide. Let’s find it out! Or you can also read about transporting a bike without bike rack.

Do Bike Racks Damage Your Car?

Do Bike Racks Damage Your Car
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There is no doubt that the bike racks can damage your car. You need to be conscious when going out with the bike rack next time. Mostly, you find your car damaged, when the bike rack rubs against your car and friction produces. Even a small amount of friction between your car and the bike rack can cause a scratch on your car’s paint. 

Keep in mind that the friction is not supposed to be between a car and a big component of your bike rack, only friction between the residue sand and the car is enough to leave its mark. It happens when you don’t maintain the bike rack properly, and does not bother to wash it periodically. The sand starts residing in the contact points and becomes an enemy of your car body paint. 

Along with poor maintenance, damage can also be done due to unsecured mounting, improper installation or even if you don’t choose appropriate bike rack. When not installed properly, the contact points of the bike rack starts rubbing against your car and the intensity increases with the speed of the vehicle. Also read a guide on how to use rear bike rack.

This reason can be proved more havoc because the loosened grip can cause the bike rack to fall off along with your bike, which will surely be going to cost you a lot.

The bike rack can also damage your car if you are overloading it and going beyond its load capacity. Better to consult the expert and load only as per the recommended weight capacity and the number of bikes. If you own a Jeep Wrangler, you can read my article about best Jeep Wrangler bike racks.

Sometimes, the straps used to secure the bike rack fails to serve their purpose and cause damage to the car eventually. Lastly, not adding the protective layers at the contact points of your bike rack, can also become a deadly decision for you.

If you own Subaru Forester, have a look at Subaru Forester bike racks

How to Prevent Bike Rack from Scratching or Damaging a Car?

Knowing the reasons and scenarios is not enough, you should have to take certain steps to prevent your rack from damaging your car. So you can spend more time having fun and less time worrying about the car. Here are the things to do:

How to Prevent Bike Rack from Scratching or Damaging a Car

1. Bike Rack Should be Installed Properly

Improper bike rack installation is one of the prime reasons that can lead to damage. Before moving out, you should consider installing the rack properly and tightening it right to avoid the consequences. 

We always recommend reading the instructions from the bike rack manufacturer and getting the job done accordingly. If you don’t feel yourself to be the right person to install the bike rack, better to take it to a garage and consult an expert rather than risk your car. 

When installing the bike rack, make sure to not keep it too close to your car. Otherwise, at an optimal speed, the pedals of the bike will start rotating and rub against the car, while leaving the scratches there. 

Bike rack should also be installed at a position, where the bike tires do not get closer to the exhaust and cause damage to the tires. If the pedals and wheels of your bike are removable, you should remove them as well before fixing them on a bike rack. It will give you an added sense of security and peace of mind. 

Also Read: How To Stop Bikes from Swaying on Bike Rack

2. Clean the Bike Rack 

As we already mentioned, the sand, dirt, or grease in the contact points can cause rubbing between the car and the bike rack, resultantly scratching the car’s body. To avoid it happening, you should keep the bike rack clean. 

It is always better to wash the bike rack after every session so that the next time you can just use the towel to wipe off the dirt from the rack while installing it.

Not only the bike rack has to be cleaned, but the car’s body should also be clean. Specifically, the points where the bike rack will be contacted with your car. You can also take a look at bike racks for mini cooper.

Note: Along with rack and car safety from scratches, bikes safety is also very important. For this reason, I would recommend you to read my guide on how to keep bikes from hitting each other on rack.

3. Add a Protective Layer at Contact Points

Other than cleaning the contact points of your bike rack, you can also make it more secure by adding foam in it as a protective layer. Even if it rubs against the car, still your car will remain safe and secure throughout the journey.

Using foam is one of the most common methods to follow that can help alot. But if you are more conscious about the car’s paint, using a paint protection film would be the best idea to go with. VViVid 3M Paint Protection Vinyl Film is the one that you should consider to make your contact points safe.

For Minivan owners, it is recommended to read my article about best bike racks for minivan

4. Using Car Scratch Protector

Car Scratch Protector is no different from the Paint protection film, as it is made up for the same purpose. But proved to be more effective and reliable for many bikers. 

If you find paint protection film to be not useful, you should try your luck with car scratch protectors. The one from Outdoorsy Supplies is the recommended one to have, because it covers all your metal hooks, provides 6 pads, and it is made up of soft material. 

5. Avoid Overloading on Bike Rack

Avoid overloading the bike rack, and burdening it more than its capacity. If you do so, the rack can lose it’s grip and fall off the car. This is the most dangerous scenario, as it won’t only cost you a loss but can damage other cars as well on the road. 

6. Get the Right Bike Rack

Get the right type of bike rack for your car. For instance, if your car has an average spoiler, you should only be relying on the rack that says to be compatible with them. Otherwise, you will be responsible for the consequences. 

There are very less mounted racks that go with the plastic spoiler. Whereas, having a metal sheet spoiler can make your hunting process much easier, as almost every rack is compatible with it.

If you an SUV, you can take a look at my review about best bike racks for SUV no hitch

Tips to Get the Right Bike Rack for Your Car

Moreover, the following points can also be helpful to get the right bike rack for your car to avoid any kind of damage to your vehicle, bikes, and bike rack:

1. Avoid Roof Top Bike Racks

Do not go with the Rooftop bike rack, if you always have to go through the low bridges OR if your garage has a low ceiling. Because you can miscalculate the extended height of your car and cause damage to your car, bike, or bike rack.

Also, you will have to detach the bikes and rack, every time you have to park the car inside your garage. Moreover, many people complaint about too much noise while traveling with roof top racks. However, to avoid this issue you can read my guide about how to stop roof rack wind noise.

2. Avoid Trunk Racks

Trunk bike racks are not suitable for frequent users because trunk bike racks contact points deteriorate relatively quicker and produce friction between the car and the bike rack.

For transporting electric bikes, make sure to choose right bike rack for electric bikes

Concluding Guide to Avoiding Car Damage Due to Rack

Bike racks are not damaging themselves, it all depends on how you use them, and what precautions you take before going out for fun. If you don’t want to experience any damage or even scratch to your car, you should grab the suitable rack that satisfies your needs. Install it properly, clean it after every ride, use it with a protective layer, and detach it when not in use. 

Just spending a few minutes on the aforementioned points can be good enough to have a sense of security and enjoy the bike trail without stressing about anything at all.

Related Bike Transportation Guides

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