Do Trunk Mounted Bike Racks Damage Your Car?

Not every bicyclist owns an SUV or truck, which means you don’t have the option to use a trailer hitch or hitch bike rack. If you have a car, you’ve probably wondered, do trunk mounted bike racks damage your car? Is it even possible to put a bike rack on my vehicle?

Do Trunk Mounted Bike Racks Damage Your Car?

Unlike hitch racks or roof racks, trunk mounted bike racks can damage a car’s paint because it straps to the trunk with metal clips and sits against the car’s paint. However, damage can also occur from driving errors, installing it incorrectly, using the wrong type, etc. 

Many people (myself included) have learned how to mount a trunk rack to our vehicle without causing any damage. Below, I’ll share some tips on how to prevent one from damaging your vehicle. 

But First, What Is A Trunk Mounted Bike Rack?

As mentioned above, it is a bike rack that rests on the back or trunk of your vehicle. It is held in place by straps that connect to the hatch, trunk, or bumper. 

They are not as easy to use as other types of bike racks, but they are lightweight and great for those on a budget. 

It is also a good choice if your car doesn’t have a hitch, crossbars, and you don’t want to take your bicycle apart to get it to fit inside your vehicle. 

There are several popular brands on the market: Saris Bones, Hollywood, Yakima, etc. 

How to Prevent A Trunk Mounted Bike Rack From Damaging Your Vehicle

Below you’ll find some tips that will help you protect the paint job on both your bike and your vehicle. 

Get The Right Bike Rack

As mentioned, there are several different models available on the market. 

Below well discuss things you can do to ensure you protect both your car and your bicycle. 

Choose The Right Model

Every automobile is different; that’s why choosing the right trunk rack for your vehicle model is essential. Do your due diligence and visit the manufacturer’s website. 

It will list which vehicles the system is compatible with. If you have an older car and it is not listed, don’t hesitate to reach out to them via their support. 

Choosing the right model will make it easier to load it properly and prevent it from damaging your ride. 

Install The Bike Rack Properly

Regardless of whether you have a trunk mount, roof rack, or hitch mount rack, the best way to protect your vehicle is to ensure it is installed properly. 

Most trunk racks will have a rubber foam that sits on either the back of the trunk or the bumper. Some like the Hollywood bicycle racks have rubber ends that protect your vehicle. 

All racks have multi-position hinges that allow you to position and lock it into practically any car, van, hatchback, and SUV. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is fit properly. When installed properly, it can also prevent the rack from being stolen.

Load The Bike Properly

Another important factor to consider is the bike damaging your ride. If it sits too close to the bumper, the pedals will rotate while driving which will scuff the bumper. 

In addition, make sure the tires are kept away from the exhaust system, as it can cause the tires to melt. 

I always use a piece of velcro to prevent both the wheels and pedals from moving during transport. Take a piece of velcro and attach it to to the frame and the front wheel. Use another piece to loop it through the pedals and attach it to the frame.

If you have removable pedals, remove them and put them back on when you get to your destination. 

When the bike is loaded properly, you should be able to pull on the bike without moving it. Both the bike and the rack should be secured firmly to the back of your vehicle. 

In addition, it should be high up off the ground, so it doesn’t drag. However, you don’t want it too high to where it blocks your vision while driving. 

Don’t Load It Too Heavy

Pay attention to the manufacturer’s weight load recommendation. For example, if it says it can hold 60 lbs, don’t try to attach one that weighs more. 

Instead, purchase a bigger one or one that holds more bicycles. 

Protect The Spoiler

Ensure the model you have will mount with a spoiler. Not all racks are designed to work with one and can damage them. However, if your vehicle has a standard metal sheet rear spoiler, there’s a good chance you can find one that will work with it. 

However, if it’s equipped with a plastic rear spoiler, it may be too week to support mounted bikes. 

Check The Contact Points 

Ensure the rubber parts are protecting the trunk and bumper. The metal clips should be secured firmly to the trunk’s inside, top, sides, and bottom. 

Everything should be secured tightly. You don’t want any loose parts hanging loosely as they can cause damage if they are allowed to flap in the wind. 

Clean The Car

Before installing a rack on the back of your automobile, make sure the trunk is clean and free of any sand, dirt, or debris. 

According to some comments in this bicycle forum, some people have put a towel between the rack and vehicles.

Take It Off

Never try going through the carwash with the rack. It will not only damage the rack, but it can damage your vehicle. The equipment can cause the bike rack to become loose, and scratch the paint job on the rear of the vehicle.

Consider A Different Type of Rack

If you’re not careful, car damage can cost thousands of dollars. If you’re concerned about damaging your automobile, you may want to consider using a roof rack or getting an older car to transport your bicycle. 

That said, carrying one on the roof of your automobile has its own risks and concerns for damage as well. 

Other Things to Consider

 Now that you’ve learned how to secure it properly to your vehicle. There are other things to consider that prevent damage to your ride, such as:

Your surroundings

A mounted bike rack will require more room for backing and parking. Also, it’s easy to forget that you have one on the back, and objects can be obscured. 

A good rule of thumb is to give yourself an extra 2-3 feet. This will prevent you from backing up into another vehicle, or hitting an object, and damaging both your bikes and automobile. 

Abide by The Speed Limit

When you’re transporting your bicycles, you’ll want to abide by the speed limit. Going too fast can cause the flaps or hooks to become loosened, which can eventually cause damage to your ride. 

Pay Attention to Other Drivers

Always pay attention to other drivers. Ensure you leave enough space in between vehicles if you need to come to a stop quickly. It will prevent people from driving too close to you and becoming a victim of a rear-end accident. 

Avoid Loading Things That Shouldn’t Be Loaded

The bike rack should only be used to carry bikes, without going over the weight limit. Don’t try to put a scooter, or wheelchair on a bike rack, unless it specifically says it can carry it.

Final Word

Trunk bike racks sit directly on the bumper and the back of the car, which leaves it vulnerable to damage. 

That said if mounted properly, it’s possible to use one on your vehicle without causing any damage. But, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have access to touch-up paint in case you scratch the paint when loading or unloading the bike. 

Hopefully, the tips above will help transport your bike without having to worry about scratching or scuffing your auto’s paint job.

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