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Installing Yakima Roof Racks - 2011 Vista Roof

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4 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   tadpole


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Posted 11 February 2011 - 05:36 PM

Here is an account of the process I used in mounting a set of Yakima landing pads and control towers on my 2011 Flex with a Vista roof. First things first - I have no idea what the effect on the vehicle warranty is. I have no idea what the load limit it. I do not know if the sizes and dimensions I report here are universal - I am simply recounting my experience. I will explain what I did and why, but I am not making any recommendations. What you do to your car is up to you.
This involves removing, at least partially, the trim strip that covers the rain gutter on the roof of the car. It also involves drilling holes in that trim strip. You can see pictures of the process at https://picasaweb.go...vhgE&feat=email
and I will refer to those pictures in this text.
I took pains to protect the surface of the vehicle. I used some sheets of neoprene that I had around, but could also have used rubber bath mats, heavy cardboard, or several towels. You do what you want.

I started by creating a reference mark for the rear end of the trim strip. I did this by lifting the trim strip slightly and applying a piece of masking tape to the car to mark the end of the strip (Pic 1). As it turns out this was unnecessary but I was not sure what I would find underneath.

Next, I further removed the trim strip. It snaps on to four plastic clips which are bolted down in the rain gutter. It is relatively easy to do - use a non-marring too at the rear to pry up the trim strip, then work forward by lifting and twisting the strip back and forth and it will disengage from the retainers. After I removed it from the last retainer I found that the very front of the strip is firmly attached to the car. I suspect it is attached by some sort of "christmas tree" type fastener that is crimped into the trim strip. It seemed as though I might kink the trim strip if I tried to remove it completely, but it turns out that I did not need to remove it completely. I could perform all the required operations with the strip lifted from the track but still attached at the front.

I took the time to measure the locations of the bolt locations so others can determine in advance if the spacing will work for them. Working from the front of the trim strip, the first bolt (1) is 17.5" , from 1 to 2 is 19.5, from 2 to 3 is 30.75", from 3 to 4 is 30.75" and from 4 to the end is 7.94" (7 -15/16", or 8" in round numbers. These measurements are by tape measure to a visual estimation of the center of the bolt, and may be off by 1/16" or so).

I used location 2 and 4, giving a spread of 61.5". The rear crossbar is slightly ahead of the antenna mount.

The trim strip is a piece of thin stainless steel (about .020" or 0.5 mm thick) clad with some rubbery material that also forms a lip on the outboard side of the trim strip. (Note I'm sure I've seen some of these that were body color. Maybe they are a different model year. I do not know if they are painted on top of the elastomeric cladding.) The bolts appear to be centered in the gutter, so I decided to drill the holes in the center of the trim strip, not including the soft lip. The strip is about an inch wide, but I found the center by trial and adjustment by marking a pencil line a measured distance from each edge. Note that I used masking tape to mark on so the lines are clearer.

The trim strip is flexible enough to twist it about 180 degrees at the rear, and I could easily hold the strip next to the gutter and visually mark where the bolt head is. Then I drilled a hole for the bolt to pass through. The bolt that is installed is a 6 mm bolt, and both 6 mm and 8 mm bolts are supplied with the Yakima Landing Pad #11. I used a stepped sheet metal drill and made 5/16th diameter holes. (See pictures). I figured this would give me enough clearance to allow for inaccuracies in location of the hole.

In the pictures you can see that I drilled the holes over a small cardboard box (the box the landing pads came in) so I would catch all the drill chips, and not risk running the drill into the roof!

After drilling and deburring the holes, I removed the bolts from the two plastic clips, and while making sure they stayed in their original position, snapped the trim strip down over all four plastic clips. I started from the front and worked towards the back. Then I attached the landing pads to the roof using the longer 6 mm hex head bolts and washers provided. I followed the instructions from Yakima concerning the location and orientation. On the right side of the vehicle I had to drill out the holes a little bit more because I did not get the holes in the trim strip properly aligned with the threaded holes in the roof. When I tried to attach the landing pad, the bolt was rubbing one side of the hole in the trim strip and it would not go in straight. It was causing a misalignment of the trim strip.

The gutter is the joint between the roof panel and the side panel. Is it seal with some sort of mastic material before it is painted. The bolts are driven through this sealing material. I chose to use some anti-seize compound on the threads of the stainless steel screws before I installed them. This will help prevent corrosion in the threads and hopefully provide some additional sealing.

Also, the hole through the plastic strip is very close fitting around the screw. With the original bolt removed the clip is free to move or lift. As I tightened the new bolt, the plastic clip tried to ride up the threads and lift the clip and trim strip. I could easily push it back down.

I can tell you this it is possible to over-tighten the bolt that holds the landing pad in place. If it is tightened too much it will bend downwards in the center. This will cause the space where the control tower fits to close up, and the control tower will not drop into place. I had to loosen the landing pad until the control tower would easily drop in.

Also, the instructions say to leave the landing pad loose enough to move around so the alignment can be adjusted, making the left and right landing pad parallel, and making the crossbars parallel. Follow Yakima's instructions in all aspects of their products' installation.

That is pretty much it. I also added some hood straps to provide a front tie-down point. These handy gizmos are nothing more than a nylon webbing strap with a grommet through the ends, making a loop. They get attached using one of the fender bolts under the hood, and fold under the hood when not it use. A rope or strap with coated hooks is used to secure the front of the kayak. My rear tie-down point is a trailer hitch.

#2 OFFLINE   Boulder Daddy

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 02:27 PM

That is a great write-up and nice pictures. Thank you.

#3 OFFLINE   Tim in Ottawa

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 01:20 PM

Just did my racks - thanks for the tips!!
(In the photo you can just see the semi-permanent towers without the crossbars...)

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#4 OFFLINE   amcgarva


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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:49 AM

and that yakima setup has a sort of quick release on it so that you can slap it on when you need it, leaving just those for base "pods"?

#5 OFFLINE   Ishkabibble


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Posted 03 December 2015 - 04:38 PM

Just did this on my new-to-me 2012. Eyeballed the holes, center punched, predrilled, and then drilled out to 3/8" to give me a little wiggle room. Worked like a charm, and none of the ugly door grabber racks. I mounted three pairs of pads and towers in the front three locations, and I am contemplating mounting pads at the rearmost location as well. I'll use the 1st and 3rd locations for boats and shorter lumber, and the 2nd and 3rd locations for skis, bikes, and a cargo box. If I decide to use the 4th, rearmost, location, the difference in width from the 3rd is minimal, and in 2-3 minutes I could relocate and adjust the 3rd location bars and towers to the 4th location. I also used 66" bars, and I could fit a cargo box, a bike, and 4 pairs of skis all at once, or a canoe and a cargo box. Currently all Yak bars are the same price, regardless of length, so buy them long. It would only take a few minutes to cut them down with a hacksaw or grinder.

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