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How to Install a DIY Cross Bar in Your Car

Most cars nowadays don't come with a cross bar to supplement its roof rack. A cross bar is for cargo-hauling needs, such as carrying a canoe and a bike for a camping trip. With factory cross bars and aftermarket cross bars available in the market, it's easy to install a cross bar in your car. You can also opt to install a do-it-yourself (DIY) cross bar, which can save you money and prove to be more suitable for your needs. Here are the things that you should do if you want to install a DIY cross bar in your car:

Difficulty level: Moderate

Things you'll need:

  • 3/4" x 10' electrical metallic tubing conduit
  • Drill
  • Automatic meter stick with a magnetic tape measure
  • Pen
  • 1/4” bolts
  • 1” diameter ¼” washers
  • 3/16” nuts
  • 3/16” lock washers
  • ¾” beam clamps
  • End caps
  • Flat head

*Note: The exact number of bullet item five to nine may vary depending on your car's specification.

Step 1: Measure the distance between your car's roof rack and add six inches or more, or less than six inches, to this measurement. This will vary depending on your roof rack because in this installation, the roof rack will be situated right above the cross bars. Cut two bars with the customized measurement that you decide on.

Step 2: Check how many bolts your roof rack has to determine how many holes you should drill on the two bars. If, for instance, your roof rack has six bolts, you should drill out six ¼-inch holes on each bar. Thoroughly drill out the holes at the ends of the bars so that the roof rack and the bars can bolt together. To ensure that the holes are in-line, measure and mark their points using an automatic meter stick with a magnetic tape measure.

Step 3: To bolt the roof rack and the bars together, install each bolt loosely in the holes drilled along each bar. Then, tighten these bolts up from the outside going to the middle. Add end caps to the ends of the bars for aesthetic purpose.

Step 4: Make grooves into each of the ¼-inch bolts to make the installation easier. The bolts should be long enough so that they don't get in the way with the conduit while they're mounted in the beam clamps.

Step 5: Set two washers on a bolt. Place them into the track that keeps the bolt in them. Then, spin the beam clamp on the bolt by using a flat head if necessary. To put the front mounts in proper position, you'll have to remove a bolt temporarily.

Step 6: Measure the mounts to ensure that they fit properly on your car's roof. Spin the beam clamps until they're tight and facing the right direction by using a flat head. Then, put the roof rack into the mounts and ensure that it's in center position. Make sure that the bolt against the electrical conduit is tight. To secure the bolt in place, tauten the nut down against the mount and ensure that a lock washer flanks it.

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