Car Bike Rack Safety Tips

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Every bike lover knows the importance of having a car bike rack. Car bike racks are very functional and a necessity.

Not only can you attach your bike to a car rack, but you can also attach cargo and bags on it to create more space in your car.

It doesn’t matter if what you have is a roof bike rack, a hitch bike rack, or a trunk-mounted bike rack. All that matters is that you know how to take care of your car bike rack.

In this article, we shall be looking at some safety tips to keep your bike rack safe.

Ready? Let’s go!

Are Bike Racks Safe?

Car Bike Rack Safety Tips

Bike racks are the safest way to transport your bike to any location. They are specifically made to provide your bike with the right protection it needs. However, there are different types of bike racks and they offer different levels of protection for your bike. There are several bike racks, but we shall look at the popular ones.

For instance, a roof bike rack will protect your bike while in transit. The issue with this type of rack is that they make your car taller. Getting under short bridges, garages or basements becomes a problem. If you forget that you have something on the roof, you risk damaging your rack, bike and even car.

Trunk-mounted racks offer the least protection as they can rub against your car when the foam pads in the contact points wear out. Also, the support straps might loosen or wear off with time and thereby exposing your bike to danger.

Then for tow bar bike racks, they offer better protection since they are secured to the car without posing any danger to your car. But the best option would be hitch bike rack as they don’t rest on your car. However, when reversing, you must watch out so that you don’t hit other vehicles.

Common Car Bike Rack Safety Issues

It’s important that you know some common safety issues you might encounter with your bike rack. Let’s look at some of them and how you can avoid them:

Choosing the Wrong Rack Type

Safety Issue: Some bike racks can take more than one bike while others can’t. That means that if your car bike rack can only accommodate one bike and you load more than one, you will be endangering your bike.

Solution: Find out how many bikes your car bike rack can take to avoid your bike falling off along the way.

Wobbling and Swaying

Safety issues: If you fail to check your car bike rack before mounting your bike, your bike may sway and wobble. Also, if the rack is not attached properly, your bike might fall off.

Solution: Always check that the bike rack is well-mounted and that the bike is secured tightly. Lock your bike properly on bike rack to avoid bad things.

Garage and Short Bridges Mishap

Safety issue: Bikes mounted on a roof bike rack can barge into a garage or short bridges causing damage to the bike, car and rack. This happens when you forget that you have a bike on top of your car.

Solution: You can set a reminder or timer that will alert you that you have a bike on top of your car when you are few minutes to your home. You can also block your garage with a storage box or chair. When you come down to move the box, you will see the bike on the roof and remove it before entering your garage.

Safety Infringement

Safety issue: Some bike racks might not be accepted in some states. For instance, it is considered an infringement in many states if your bike rack covers your license plate. Also, using a wrong size of bike rack can also land you into problems with the law.

Solution: If you must use a trunk or hitch-mounted rack, make sure it’s not obstructing your license plate number. And of course, the bike rack you choose should be the right size for your car.

How Do I Make Sure My Bike Rack Is Secure?

A lot of bikes have been stolen because the racks were not secured enough. There is no guarantee that securing your bike rack will prevent it from being stolen, however, you shouldn’t allow lapses when securing your bike rack. Here are some ways you can achieve that:

Check For Loose Screws and Bolts

Whenever you want to make use of your bike rack, check for screws and bolts that are loose. Not only will a loose bike rack make it easy for thieves to get your bike, but your bike can fall off the rack while in transit.

Use a U-lock

Securing your bike rack and your bike with a U-lock can stop anyone from tampering with your rack or bike. U-locks are hard to cut through and will buy you enough time to catch a thief trying to steal your bike. You can also run a chain around your bike rack through some parts under your car for added security. 

Go For the Right Model

One particular bike rack cannot fit all cars. Different racks are made for different cars. To avoid having issues with your bike rack, before buying one, ask if it will fit your car.


Are Bike Racks Supposed To Wobble And Sway?

Definitely not. When your bike rack sways or wobbles, it will affect your car’s gas mileage and fuel consumption. Bike racks are not supposed to sway and wobble because they can spell doom if they do. In worst case scenario, your bike could fall off and hit another oncoming vehicle, a human being, or structures.

Roof and trunk-mounted racks don’t sway or wobble as much as a hitch-mounted rack. But they could sway and wobble when they are overloaded. To deal with a swaying or wobbling bike rack, use sway bars, ratchet straps or tension bars to hold it in place.

Is There Any Chance I’ll Break My Bike Rack While Driving?

No, your bike rack shouldn’t break while you are driving. But, if the bike rack is wearing out, then it could fall off and break when you are in transit. And of course, if you fail to attach and secure your bike rack correctly before driving, don’t be surprised when it falls off while you are driving.

Do Bike Racks Damage Your Bike?

A good and well-fitting bike rack will not break your bike. When not properly suited for your car, or it has worn out, the bike rack can damage your bike. Driving into your garage or low clearance spaces with your bike mounted on top of your car can damage your bike, rack and car. Steer clear of cheap bike racks because they can expose your bike to damage. Also, bike racks can leave your bike with chipped paint and scratches if the contact points are not well padded with foam to prevent such from happening.

How Do I Keep The Wheels From Spinning On My Bike Rack?

The wheels of your bike shouldn’t be spinning while on your bike rack. Although it might seem like it causes no harm, but it sure leads to wear and tear of the bearings overtime. When the rear tire wheel spins backward, your pedals could move and jack up your car. Plus, a spinning bike wheel on a bike rack can rack up fake mileage if your bike comes with a speedometer.

To keep your bike wheels from spinning while on a bike rack, just tie some straps around the wheels. You should tie it loosely around the rim and frame of the bike or the main post of the car bike rack. If you can’t tie both wheels, you can use a bungee between the frame and front wheel to at least stop the front wheel from spinning.


I believe you’ve been able to capture the whole idea behind keeping your bike rack safe. The safety tips I listed in this article has been tested and confirmed to work.

Bike racks and bikes do not come cheap, and so you must make sure that you take care of them. What better way to do that than to implement some of the tips listed in this article?

And when you, do feel free to join in the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comment section. 

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

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