Bike racks are designed to safely and securely transport your valuable bicycles, but protecting your vehicle should be an important concern as well. It is no use if a rack keeps your bicycles in mint condition, but causes expensive damage to your car. A cheap or incorrectly mounted, hitch, spare tire, and SUV bike rack can cause major damage to not only your bicycles but your car as well. By taking proper precautions you can ensure that your vehicle remains as protected as your bicycle when using a rack.
Be mindful of your surroundings
Often when you have a new bike rack or mounted a bike rack for the very first time you can cause damage to your vehicle by not being mindful of your surroundings. We call to get into certain driving habits after a while and adapting to changes to the vehicle, such as an added bike rack can take a while. This is particularly dangerous in the case of roof-mounted bicycle racks as if you are not used to them it is all too easy to forget that they are even there.
Needless to say, this can be disastrous if you are used to driving into your garage or carport with the bikes still on the roof. Not only will the bikes and rack be damaged, but the vehicle will more than likely require expensive repairs as well. The same goes for taking tight corners with a trunk-mounted bike rack. To prevent the presence of your bike rack from slipping your mind you might have to place signs or reminders up to alert you to the fact that your vehicle now needs extra clearance for maneuvers you might be used to performing without thinking.
Mount The Bike Rack Properly
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you mount your bike rack, no matter what type of rack it is, correctly. Double-check the instructions that come with your chosen bike rack and make sure that you follow them exactly to ensure that the rack is fitted securely. You’ll also find a wealth of online resources when it comes to the proper mounting of bicycle racks, so don’t be stubborn and search for help if you are not sure about how to proceed.
Do Not Overload Your Bike Rack
All bike racks are designed to fit a certain amount of bikes and carry a certain amount of weight. The exact numbers will be indicated on the packaging as well as assembly instructions for the rack. As tempting as it might be to keep using that two bike rack when you buy an additional bike you place both your equipment and vehicle at risk by doing so. Pay heed to the limitations of your bike rack and rather purchase a new rack when you get additional bikes instead of overloading your existing rack.
Regularly Inspect Your Bike Rack
Even a properly mounted and a secured bike rack is susceptible to a certain amount of wear and tear through regular usage. When loading your bikes make sure to double-check that all the straps and mountings are still secure and in place to avoid anything shifting or coming loose while you are on the road. Neglecting to do so can cause the bikes to loosen while you are traveling at high speed which is not only dangerous for yourself and other motorists on the road but can also cause serious damage to your vehicle.
Most rear racks feature pads that protect the paint job of your car, so make sure that these have not shifted or worn out. Through regular inspections, you can minimize the risk of damage to your vehicle by the bike rack.
Fasten Bicycles Securely To The Rack
Traveling at freeway speeds can cause a lot of movement from your bikes if they are not properly strapped down. It doesn’t help if your bike rack is securely mounted, but your bicycle pedals are left spinning in the wind and potentially scratching up the paint job of your vehicle. Instead, take the extra time to properly fasten the bicycle using extra straps if necessary to keep everything stable and secure. If you are traveling for long distances with the bike rack it is also a good idea to make occasional stops to double-check if everything is still fastened properly.
I love the outdoors and I'm fortunate enough to be able to spend most of my free time exploring it with my mountain-bike. In my spare time, I write reviews and guides for Rackmaven.