Roof Rack Noise Solution?

O.K, another "newbie" question. My Thule roof racks' noise is starting to drive me nuts. I know they sell a fairing, and it costs the Usual Amazing Thule Price-at least $60! I'm having trouble with the Idea of paying that much for a piece of plastic.

I also saw (on another message board) a solution that looks just too easy. They wrapped a bungee around the crossbar, in a spiral pattern, and they say it kills the noise effectively. My car gets 37-40 highway MPG, and I'm not that worried about 1 or 2 MPG, I just want rid of that whooooooooooo.......

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RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

I have a Yakima Sytem and the fairing is well worth the money......its better than driving your self nuts...its the best solution...Happy Boating


RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

does it make noise with out the boat?  Reason I sak is that is could be your straps.  add one twist in them, most people put them flat and that causes them to buzz like a reed in a saxophone.  If you are getting the noise without the boat, then it is the rack.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

If the rack howls without a boat and straps on (see David.Donaldson's note above) you have noise from turbulence of the air swirling behind the crossbars.  My Yakima rack also howled.  the noise would abate if you could move the crossbars back away from the windshield of the car, but then it'd look silly with the crossbars close together with a 17' boat on it.  

Do as I did for my Yakima rack.  I made a fairing as follows:

find a piece of wood 1" thick by 3" wide by 8" long. 3/4" thick will probably do in a pinch.  Place the piece flat on a table & put a dot near the corner at one end and near the corner at the other end.  the long edge closest to the holes is the front of the fairing which you'll attach to the rear of the crossbar.   Drill a 1/4" hole through those dots. taper the rear edge of your fairing by planing the corners off & make it smooth like an airplane wing.  Pass a zip tie through each of the holes and around the crossbar.  Orient your fairing to the rear of the vehicle.  You may also need to make one for the rear bar.   You might need a longer piece of wood.  It works really well for me.  This could be the best & the cheapest way out.  

Should take about 30 minutes or less.  Paint it black later, so it will blend with the rack.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

By the way, I also think the yakima or Thule fairing is overpriced.  Think of a better use for your $$$.  Buy good food.  Donate it, even.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

kayak4water, do you have a picture? The description sounds like the piece trails behind the crossbar. Does the rear end of the piece rest on the hood? I  have the rectangular Thule load bars, I could plane the edge that touches the bar to an angle that makes the piece slope down towards the roof?

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?


Do you have your racks spaced as per the instructions? I moved mine farther apart since my car has a short roof (Honda Fit), which puts the forward bar at a slight downward angle. This seems less noisy than the stock set up. I also have the square Thule bars.

btw, I find that the pointy Shearwaters have almost no impact on mpg as compared to my old wider plastic boats.


RE: You got it Jim

Have picture, but I know not how to upload it to the forum

Yes, the piece trails behind the crossbar &

No, the rear end of the piece doesn't rest on the hood with Thule crossbars which are rectangular.  With the round Yakima racks, they may rest on the roof if I don't cinch down the zip ties.

Wood is pretty cheap, so you can plane the piece however you wish.  You can plane one or both rear edges.  either way it will remove most of the turbulence resulting from the air flowing past the rack and the air behind the rack.  No need to overthink this.  

Now, leave your computer or whatever you use to get online, get out some wood tools and send the howling to howl heaven.  come back to tell us how you did.

buy good food. 

You're still here??

Is is fixed?

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

Thanks for your suggestions, guys. I tried the bungee cord idea today, and to my astonishment, it WORKS! No noise under 70 MPH, and at/above 70, only the faintest, ingnorable sound.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

earplugs.  a box of them at cvs is like $5.  

I did not like the fairings I had on two different cars (Thule).  I don't think they save any gas,  they do not fit right with my current boat rack setup, and they did not cut down on the noise much.  

 we have a honda fit,  and I installed a nice stereo in it so I do not hear anything other than music... 

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

Noisy bars with nothing on them get fixed with a $2 pool noodle wrapped around the bar. (Doesn't have to be full length, just use one noodle for both bars.)

Noisy bars with a boat on them get fixed with a twist in the strap, as someone else suggested.

Anything else is simply unnecessarily spent money.  (Unless of course you like the look of the fairing or want to put more effort into other options.)


RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

   You can reduce the noise by disturbing the airflow over the bars. Sure a fairing works well, but you can also try a full length rack pad. It has a dual purpose of protecting you gear and also reducing roof rack noise.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

Interesting thread... here I'd been thinking I was the only one ever to experience this phenom.

Carried MINI roof racks I'd bought in 2007 with a Cooper S over to a Clubman late in '12. Mounting slots were in different places along roof edges so racks were farther apart. Never had problems with noise on the S but on the Clubman. when there was nothing up there on 'em, was dreadful at any speed ovet 55.

That having something up there changed their harmonics clued me to a simple fix. I took a piece of cedar I had handy, maybe 3/8" thick by 1-1/2" wide & long enough to cross both bars. Drilled a 1/4" hole in each end so I could secure it using two bolts that otherwise held my MINI luggage 'porpoise' on. Idea was to bridge the two bars so they wouldn't vibrate in sync. Wood better than metal I guessed... works fine to this day.

RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

I padded mine by wrapping it with split bicycle inner tubes.  I was pleasantly suprised to discover that it also noticably decreased the noise:


RE: Roof Rack Noise Solution?

   My Chevy trucks have had that little spiral around the round shaft of the radio antenna for years. It breaks up the air flow. 


My main way to drown out the noise for many decades  has been to turn up the radio. :-)

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