How to silence roof rack noise

Having a roof rack for your bike, boat, skis, or other cargo is one of those things that make life a bit easier.

However, the third-party racks made by Yakima, Thule, etc. are notorious for making lots of noise, especially at highway speeds. Of course, these companies make plastic wind fairings that can help with the noise, but they are expensive (about $70 for the Yakima brand at REI). And it is just one more part that will eventually break and need to be replaced, which costs more money.

$70 is 3/4 of a tank of gas for my van. Or 1.5 rock climbing cams. Or a week’s (or more) worth of food while dirtbagging across America. $70 is a lot of money.

So how do you silence the howl of the crossbars on your roof rack? With bungee cords or paracord. Or in my case, both.

I wrapped the front bar with a bungee cord, making four loops and hooking the cord to the Yakima towers.

I wrapped the rear bar with paracord, making about fourteen loops and tying the cord off to the crossbar on the outside of the Yakima towers.

The result: Silence. Even at highway speeds. The cost: free, because I had scraps lying around. Even if you need to buy the materials, you will probably spend less than $3.

Do the cords interfere with mounting a boat? No. But for hauling a couple dozen of 2 X 4s we removed the cords, which is far easier than removing a wind fairing.

But why do the crossbars make all of that noise? My theory is that it is due to a cavitation-like effect, where the high air pressure passing over the crossbars slams into the void behind the bars, essentially creating an action similar to the hydraulic forces of a waterfall that a whitewater kayaker might encounter.

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