Will Bike Rack Scratch Car

Will Bike Rack Scratch Car? – Let’s Answer the Question!

Owning a bike rack makes it easy for you. It gives you the luxury of taking your favorite bikes wherever you go. Carrying bikes inside the vehicle has always been a bad option. It makes your ride dirty and takes a toll on the paint job. Also, the whole thing makes loading and unloading a hassle. 

Hence, bike racks are the perfect way to go. But… There’s a catch.

See, the device must be attached somewhere outside of your vehicle. It could be the roof, the truck, the spare tire, or via another tool (like a trailer hitch). Since it directly touches the car’s body, there’s always a chance for it to leave a scratch. Or, in a worst-case scenario, a dent.

However, not all bike racks possess a severe threat to your vehicle. In this article, we’ll learn about safe and unsafe racks and try to understand whether your bike rack will scratch your car.

Different Kinds of Bike Racks

You’ll find several types of bike racks available on the market. For a better understanding, I’ve divided these into two categories. The first one covers all the products which have the potential to scratch your car. And the second type is a safer option. Let’s get to know about these more briefly.

Will Bike Rack Scratch Car

The “Unsafe” Ones

Almost all bike racks can potentially damage the exterior of your vehicle. But since you know some possess more threats than others, we’ll talk about the risky ones here.

Roof-Mounted Racks

Roof-Mounted bike racks will always be ahead if there’s a race for the most unsafe ones. Generally, such a tool is attached to the roof of a vehicle using a different set of clamps. As a result, it touches the roof’s paint directly, so it can damage the exterior.

If you don’t load the bikes properly, you’ll get into more trouble. Because then the bikes will swag away during transit making the rack move back and forth. And finally, it will rub against the roof for more damage. Hence, one misplacement and say bah-bye to your beautiful painted car’s roof.

Another way this type causes scratches or damage is through the bikes. When you ride your bike outside, the tires capture dirt and debris inside. This results in the rack becoming full of dirt and debris. 

So, when you attach it to the roof, dirt gets trapped between the two surfaces. It makes the roof of our cars or jeeps dirty and eventually leaves scratches.

Trunk-Mounted Racks

The next type we’ll be talking about is the Trunk-Mounted Racks. Like the previous type, it’s also attached to the vehicle directly via straps and hooks. Most roof and trunk-mounted bike holders aren’t so different in design and look. 

The only difference is that one’s located on the roof and the other on the trunk.

Since hooks are responsible for clipping it with the vehicle’s trunk, they do the most harm. If you don’t set or position the rack, it will rub against the trunk’s body and leave indentations. 

Also, loading and unloading the bikes can leave marks on the car. Bike paddles, tires, and handle-bars are responsible for most of the accidents in this case.

One of the most common ways a trunk-mounted rack can leave scratches is by the dirt and debris inside the bike’s tires. Like the previous one, particles of dirt and others get trapped between the rack and the trunk. And it eventually damages the body while removing and loading bikes.

Spare-Tire Mounted Racks

Spare-Tire Mounted racks are the least unsafe of all. These are known for other impairments, such as vibrations and weighing your car down. Still, they can cost you hundreds of dollars if you don’t know what’s happening. 

As the name suggests, it’s hooked up to the spare tire. Ratchet hooks or clamps don’t cause any harm because of touching the tire only.

Hence, no direct contact with the vehicle makes your life easier. 

However, the load bikes can come in contact with the car, and this is where it’s dangerous. Here, the spare tire generally hangs at the rear side. So, all kinds of scratching and denting mostly happen at the bumper or tailgate of the ride.

This is all about the rack type that can scratch your car. Now, it’s time to move on to the category where the exterior is relatively safer. 

The “Okay” Ones

Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks are the safest when it comes to carrying bikes. Unlike others, this one does not directly contact the vehicle. 

To hook it up in your ride, you need to buy another tool called a trailer hitch. So, the rack goes inside the hitch, and the hitch is attached to the car. Hitch-Mounted bike racks are divided into two styles: Hanging and Platform.

Hanging-Style racks can carry up to 6 cycles at a time. As the name suggests, the bikes travel in this one by hanging horizontally. There’s a metal handle or bar that does the main bike holding job. 

Usually, ratchet straps on the bar help the load to stay together. However, the user can buy different accessories to make the transit safer.

The other type is lackluster when it comes to bike count. It can carry at most 4 cycles at a time. However, it checks all the boxes regarding safety, durability, and strength. 

As the name suggests, this type has an individual or group platform for all the bikes. As a result, the load jerks less and gets more support.

Also, you get wheel cradles that keep the tires in place. So, the debris and dirt trapped between these won’t leave the tray and make everything worse for you. 

Lastly, in this category, you’ll get a tilt feature. It swings the entire tray so you can quickly unload the bikes and access the rear part. All in all, it’s the best variant of all for a scratch-free trip.

Despite having many advantages, hitch-mounted ones can also scratch your car if you don’t follow specific rules. To sum up, all bike racks can potentially damage your vehicle’s exterior. 

What’s the solution here? Don’t worry. I won’t leave you high and dry here. In the next segment, I have something for you regarding this cause. 

A Few Tips to Avoid Scratches

At this point in the article, you will learn how bike racks can scratch your car. Having a bike rack that doesn’t damage your vehicle’s exterior might seem impossible. But there are some hacks you can use to avoid these incidents. Let me tell you about those tips one by one.

Right Installation Is The Key

No matter what you do, it won’t help to avoid scratches or dings if you don’t install the rack right. One or two misplacements will make the whole thing a bit loose. 

Hence, it’ll jerk more and eventually rub off your car’s finish. To avoid that, give the manual a good read, and set it up accordingly. You can also ask for help from an experienced hand.

Properly Load and Unload

A big chunk of scratch cases happens during loading and unloading. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s actually true. For this reason, you must fully concentrate during this time. If you’re dealing with more than two bikes, you should find help.    

Don’t Forget to Double Check

After installing the rack and loading the bikes, you should double-check everything. Because once you’re off to the destination, there won’t be anything you can do to avoid the damage. See if any screws are loose and whether straps and hooks are attached perfectly.

A Few Accessories That Might Work

You can buy protection tape, paint safety film, and rack pads. These things boost overall safety. 

Taping the areas where the rack touches directly is an old and effective technique. It keeps away all the dirt and takes all the hits in the space of your car’s surface. 

Protection Pads are also effective in avoiding scratches or dings.

Run Proper Maintenance on The Racks

Proper Maintenance makes everything easy for you and the guy doing the paint job. Make sure the rack is clean every time you put it on. Try to clean the touched place after a trip. This way, the dirt won’t sit on the surface for too long, and you’ll have a clean car.

Wrapping It Up

If I start to write down the perks of having a bike rack, I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish. Simply put, it’s convenient, affordable, and durable. 

However, it can also haunt you back by damaging your favorite car’s finish. The sad part is almost all bike racks CAN scratch your vehicle.

But if you follow a set of do’s and don’ts, you might be able to avoid them. In the later part of my article, I talked about those.

So, “Will the bike rack scratch the car?” Yes, most likely, it will. But you sure do take some measures to ensure it won’t.

Eddie Burton - Senior Author
Senior Author: Eddie Burton

Eddie Burton is a passionate car enthusiast and a seasoned mechanic with over 15 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has worked with a variety of vehicles, from classic muscle cars to modern luxury cars, and has extensive knowledge of all types of auto parts and accessories.

Eddie’s love for cars began at a young age when he would spend hours tinkering with his first car, a 1967 Mustang. Since then, he has pursued his passion for cars by working in various garages and workshops, honing his skills and expertise in everything related to automobiles.

As a contributor to our website, Eddie shares his in-depth knowledge and experience with our readers, providing valuable tips and advice on auto parts, repairs, and maintenance. He’s committed to helping car owners get the most out of their vehicles by providing honest and practical reviews of auto parts, accessories, and tools.

With Eddie’s vast experience and expertise, you can trust his recommendations and insights on everything related to cars. Whether you’re a seasoned car owner or a newbie in the world of automobiles, Eddie’s articles and reviews will help you make informed decisions and keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

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