What Are the Best Practices for Securing a Roof Rack on a Subaru Outback for Heavy Loads?

When you’re looking to expand your vehicle’s carrying capacity, a reliable solution is the addition of a roof rack. It allows you to transport a variety of items, from sports equipment and camping gear to oversized luggage and construction materials. But when it comes to heavy loads, proper installation is crucial for both the safety of your cargo and other road users.

For Subaru Outback owners, the need to secure heavy loads properly on the roof rack cannot be overstated. This article will delve into the best practices for ensuring your rack is aptly secured and your load, safe.

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1. Choosing the Right Roof Rack and Cargo Box

The first step in securing a roof rack on your Subaru Outback is ensuring you have the right equipment. Not all roof racks are created equal. Choosing a roof rack that is specifically designed for your Subaru model is crucial. Subaru recommends using Yakima and Thule roof racks for their models, as they are designed to fit securely and evenly distribute weight.

When it comes to cargo boxes, the variety is endless. The Thule Force XT L and Yakima Skybox Carbonite are popular options for Subaru Outback models. These boxes are designed to be aerodynamic, reduce drag, and securely fit on the vehicle’s rack. They also feature easy-grip mounting knobs that allow for a fast, secure, and tool-free installation.

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Roof rack bars, on the other hand, should be made from a strong and durable material, like aluminum or steel, and offer a high load capacity. The Thule Evo Wingbar and the Yakima CoreBar are excellent choices that offer strength, reliability, and aerodynamics.

2. Correctly Installing the Roof Rack

After choosing the right roof rack, bars, and cargo box for your Subaru Outback, the next step is proper installation. No matter how high-quality your equipment is, incorrect installation can lead to accidents or damage to your car or products.

Firstly, ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully during installation. The roof rack should be evenly mounted on the roof of the vehicle, using all the provided mounting points. The bars should be parallel to each other.

For Subaru Outbacks, Thule and Yakima provide fit kits that ensure the roof rack is custom-fit to the vehicle. These kits come with foot pads and brackets that securely fit the contours of the vehicle’s roof. They also include locks to prevent theft of the rack or cargo box.

When installing the cargo box, ensure it is centered on the bars. The Thule and Yakima cargo boxes come with clamps that fit around the bars. Tighten these clamps until the box is secure.

3. Balancing the Load

Once your roof rack is securely installed, the next step is correctly loading your cargo. An improper load can make the vehicle unstable and increase the risk of accidents.

Firstly, check your vehicle’s roof load limit, found in the Subaru Outback owner’s handbook. Exceeding this limit can damage your car’s roof and compromise its structure.

When loading your cargo, the heaviest items should be placed in the center, closest to the car’s roof. This helps in maintaining the vehicle’s center of gravity. Also, distribute the weight evenly from side to side and front to back to prevent any imbalance.

For oversized items, like a tent or kayak, use tie-down straps to secure them to the rack. These straps should be tensioned to prevent the load from shifting while the vehicle is in motion.

4. Regularly Checking Your Load

Regardless of how securely you’ve installed your roof rack and loaded your cargo, the forces exerted during driving can cause the load to shift or the fittings to loosen. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly check your load throughout your journey.

Before setting off, give your load one final check. Ensure all items are secure, and the cargo box lid is locked. If you’re using a tent, ensure it is tightly packed and secured with straps.

During your journey, make regular stops to check your load, particularly if you’re traveling long distances or over rough terrain. Check for any signs of movement or looseness in the fittings. If you notice any issues, re-adjust the load or tighten the fittings as necessary.

5. Unloading and Storing the Roof Rack

After your journey, remember to unload the cargo from your roof rack first before removing the rack itself. When unloading, be careful not to damage the car’s roof or the rack’s bars. If you’ve used a cargo box, remember to detach it from the bars before trying to remove the bars from the car.

When not in use, it’s best to remove the roof rack and store it properly. This can help extend its lifespan and protect it from weather damage. Most roof racks and cargo boxes come with their own storage bags, but if yours doesn’t, wrap it in a soft cloth or bubble wrap to protect it from scratches. Store it in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Remember, securing a roof rack on your Subaru Outback for heavy loads doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By choosing the right equipment, installing it correctly, balancing your load, and regularly checking your setup, you can ensure a safe and hassle-free journey.

6. Accessorizing Your Rack Setup

Once you have your roof rack, bars, and cargo box safely installed and your load balanced, you may choose to accessorize your setup for added convenience and safety. There is a variety of rack setup products available that can enhance your use of the roof rack on your Subaru Outback.

For instance, some Subaru Outback owners opt for a bike rack attachment. The Thule ProRide XT Roof Bike Rack or the Yakima FrontLoader Bike Mount are popular options that offer easy loading and unloading of bikes, as well as secure transport.

If you’re looking to transport larger items like a canoe or kayak, consider adding the Thule DockGlide Kayak Saddle or the Yakima JayLow J-Cradle Kayak Carrier to your setup. These products securely cradle your watercraft and protect them from damage during transport.

Your Subaru Outback may also be equipped with a trailer hitch. If so, consider adding a hitch-mounted cargo carrier for additional storage space. The Thule Transporter Combi Hitch-Mount Cargo Box is a notable option, providing secure, weather-resistant storage.

Lastly, remember to secure your setup. Lock cores such as the Thule Pack ‘n Pedal Lock or the Yakima SKS Lock Cores can provide an extra layer of security for your rooftop setup, deterring theft and giving you peace of mind.

7. Keeping up with Maintenance and Updates

After investing in a quality roof rack setup for your Subaru Outback, it’s vital to maintain the equipment to keep it functioning optimally. Regularly inspect your roof rack, cargo box, and any additional accessories for any signs of wear or damage.

Check the condition of the Thule Wingbar Evo, Yakima CoreBar, or any other bars you’re using. Replace any damaged or worn-out parts immediately to prevent any risk to your safety or your cargo.

Also, remember to keep up-to-date with any product updates or recalls from the manufacturers. Both Thule and Yakima have customer support lines and websites where you can access essential product information.

When it comes to the Subaru Outback Wilderness, or other specific Subaru Outback models, be aware of any special product recommendations or warnings. These can usually be found in the vehicle’s manual or on the Subaru website.

8. Conclusion

Securing a roof rack on your Subaru Outback for heavy loads comprises more than just installing the rack. It involves careful selection of the equipment, meticulous installation, strategic loading, and regular checks to ensure a safe journey.

Supplement your setup with appropriate rack setup products like the bike rack, trailer hitch, and lock cores. Regularly maintain and update your Thule Wingbar or other equipment to ensure their longevity.

By following these best practices, you can exploit the full potential of your Subaru Outback’s carrying capacity and enjoy worry-free travels with your heavy loads. Remember, safety and efficiency are paramount, and with the right approach, you can achieve both.