The Honda Fit is a subcompact car that has been manufactured by Honda since 2001. Known for its space-efficient interior design and excellent fuel economy, the Honda Fit is popular with customers looking for an affordable and practical small car. One way to expand the utility of the Fit is by installing a roof rack system.
Adding a roof rack opens up more carrying capacity when you need it. Roof racks allow you to transport gear like bikes, kayaks, skis, luggage, and cargo boxes securely on the roof of your Honda Fit. While the Fit lacks an abundance of interior cargo space, especially with the rear seats up, a roof rack provides nearly unlimited space for hauling your equipment.
Installing roof racks on a Honda Fit involves assembling and mounting crossbars and feet to the roof. This guide will cover the necessary steps involved in safely and effectively installing a roof rack system on your Honda Fit. With the right tools and proper precautions, installing roof racks can be an easy process.
Taking proper safety precautions while installing a roof rack is crucial. Per How to Drive Safely With a Roof Rack on Your Vehicle, ensure the vehicle is turned off and the keys are removed during installation. This prevents accidental starts or movements. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges, and safety goggles in case any parts or tools slip while working overhead.
Be sure to read through all instructions first before starting the roof rack installation. Follow each step carefully and do not take shortcuts. Rushing through the process or skipping steps can lead to an improperly installed rack that is not securely attached. Take your time and double check that all clamps, bolts, and fittings are tightened properly per the specifications. Doing the job right the first time ensures safety for both your vehicle and cargo.
Gather the Right Tools
Before beginning the roof rack installation, you’ll need to gather the proper tools. Having the right tools on hand will make the job much easier.
The most important tools are:
- Socket wrench – Used to loosen and tighten nuts and bolts during installation. Select a socket wrench that fits the nuts and bolts of your specific roof rack system.
- Torque wrench – Helps you properly tighten bolts to the specified tightness. This ensures parts are securely fastened without overtightening.
- Screwdrivers – Both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers can come in handy if your roof rack uses screws.
- Roof rack specific hardware – Your roof rack kit will come with specific nuts, bolts, brackets, and feet. Make sure you have all the hardware called for in the instructions.
Gathering these essential tools ahead of time will allow the roof rack installation to go smoothly and efficiently.
Inspect the Roof
Before installing a roof rack, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the roof of your Honda Fit. Look for any existing damage, dents, or rust that could interfere with the roof rack installation or its stability once installed. Scratches and dents on the roof can potentially damage the mounting feet and prevent the roof rack from sitting flush and securely.
Be sure to check where the front and rear towers of the roof rack will make contact and make sure the surface is smooth and flat. According to the instructions, the towers require a flat mounting area of at least 5.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Any existing damage or irregularities in those areas should be addressed first before attempting installation.
You’ll also want to clean the roof thoroughly before beginning installation. Make sure to remove any dirt, grime, grease, wax or debris. Use soap and water, followed by rubbing alcohol to ensure you have a perfectly clean mounting surface. This helps maximize traction and stability for the roof rack. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for any additional cleaning recommendations. A clean, damage-free roof is critical for proper installation and performance of your new Honda Fit roof rack.
Read All Instructions
Before beginning installation, it is crucial to thoroughly read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions. Pay close attention to each step, recommended tools, and any safety warnings. According to Car and Driver, “Before you start, read all instructions cover-to-cover and make sure you understand each step completely” (https://www.caranddriver.com/car-accessories/a38292788/roof-rack-install/).
Specifically review the torque specifications provided for tightening nuts and bolts. Using the proper torque helps ensure the roof rack is securely installed. Under-tightening can lead to a loose rack, while over-tightening may damage the mounting hardware. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended torque settings precisely. Having a torque wrench on hand is highly advised.
Additionally, take note of any tips, tricks, or warnings in the instructions. For example, some racks may require leaving back doors open while tightening crossbars to allow room for tightening tools. Look for any model-specific guidance to help the installation go smoothly.
Taking the time upfront to carefully read and understand all instructions will prevent mistakes and issues down the road. Don’t take shortcuts – follow each step as described by the manufacturer.
Install the Crossbars
Properly positioning and aligning the front and rear crossbars is crucial for stability and safety. Start by centering the front crossbar over the roof, checking the position against the top of the windshield. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended placement. Typically, you’ll want a couple inches of clearance between the crossbar and windshield.
Next, center and align the rear crossbar, evenly spacing it between the front crossbar and rear hatch. Ensure both crossbars are perfectly parallel to each other. With a friend’s help, you can sight the crossbars from the front or rear of the vehicle to check the alignment.
Using the provided hardware, bolt the mounting feet to the crossbars. Tighten bolts gradually in an alternating pattern to ensure even pressure. Use a torque wrench to tighten bolts to the manufacturer’s specified torque, usually between 6-8 ft-lbs for plastic roof racks. Overtightening can damage the crossbars. Refer to the installation guide for the proper tightening sequence and torque specs (see Car and Driver).
Install Mounting Feet
The next step is to attach the mounting feet to the crossbars. First, take the mounting feet that came with your roof rack and identify where they will attach to the crossbars. Typically there are predefined attachment points or clamps. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer to properly attach the mounting feet to the crossbars and securely tighten them into place (Source).
Once the mounting feet are tightly secured to the crossbars, you can position them along the crossbars to line up with the roof rack mounting points on your vehicle. Space the mounting feet evenly apart and directly over the mounting points. Use the manufacturer’s guidelines to find the optimal width between the mounting feet for your particular vehicle make and model. Again, firmly tighten the mounting feet into position on the crossbars according to the instructions. Double check that the mounting feet are centered on the factory mounting points and securely attached.
When installing a roof rack, it is critical to understand and follow the load limits. Exceeding the load capacity can damage your vehicle and roof rack system. It also poses serious safety risks if cargo comes loose at high speeds.
Most factory roof racks have a load capacity between 150-165 lbs. However, aftermarket roof rack systems often can hold 200+ lbs depending on the style, number of crossbars, and mounting feet. For example, Thule’s WingBar Evo has a 220 lb limit (https://help.thule.com/s/article/What-is-the-weight-capacity-of-Thule-roof-rack-systems-en-us).
The total load limit accounts for the weight of the roof rack itself. When calculating how much cargo you can carry, subtract approximately 20 lbs for the rack system’s weight. Spread cargo evenly between the front and rear crossbars without exceeding the limits.
While driving, pay attention to noise or changes in vehicle handling. This may indicate an overloaded roof rack. Always tie down cargo securely and check fasteners regularly. Following the load limits will keep your gear and vehicle safe.
After installing the roof rack, it’s important to test it out with a short drive of 5-10 minutes. This will allow you to check if there are any loose parts or strange noises coming from the rack. Be sure to drive on different road surfaces and make a couple turns. Listen closely for any rattling or movement sounds.
When you return home, do a quick inspection and tighten any loose bolts or parts. Refer to the installation manual if needed. It’s better to find issues right away rather than having problems on a long road trip. Take the time to properly test the roof rack installation before loading up cargo and hitting the open road.
Tips for Use
Once you have installed your Honda Fit roof rack, it’s important to use it properly to transport cargo safely. Here are some key tips:
Distribute weight evenly across the crossbars. Make sure cargo is centered on the rack and spread out. Don’t place all the weight on just one side or one bar. Distributing the load evenly will put less strain on your roof and rack system.
Inspect the roof rack periodically. Over time, the rack system can loosen from vibration while driving. Before each use, check that all screws, bolts, and mounts are tight. Tighten anything that feels loose.
Use straps to secure cargo. For light items like surfboards or luggage, use rope or elastic straps over the item and through the crossbars. For heavier items, use stronger ratchet straps anchored to the crossbars. This will keep cargo stable and prevent it from shifting or falling during sharp turns or braking.