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How Your Toyota Roof Rack Is Installed

So, you have purchased a roof rack for your Toyota. Ready to set off an adventure with friends or family, but first, you need to install your new roof rack system. But how do you go about doing this? Do you have someone do it for you? Do you do it yourself? Can you even do it yourself? 

No need to panic! You have the option of taking your roof racks to a Toyota dealership to have them installed for a small fee. But why pay money when you can easily do it yourself? 

Explore this article as we provide you with step-by-step instructions on how your Toyota roof rack is installed. 

Are Roof Racks Easy to Install?


Before we dive headfirst into installations, let’s examine whether roof racks are easy to install. The short answer is yes. Roof racks often come designed for a specific vehicle type. Others are universal with attachments designed for a particular vehicle. Roof racks will be installed on various car models depending on the roof style the car has. When you combine the correct roof racks with instructions, installation becomes simple. 

Roof racks comprise crossbars, siderails, and feet that attach the siderails to your vehicle. The only instance where feet are omitted is when your car comes with factory-fitted raised rails. In this case, crossbars clamp onto these rails making the feet redundant. Roof racks make carrying extra luggage simple. They allow for the transportation of items such as kayaks and surfboards. Roof racks also provide a place to attach other Toyota roof rack accessories. These accessories include a Toyota roof cargo box or a Toyota roof basket. 

How Your Toyota Roof Racks Are Installed 

How your roof racks are installed on your Toyota comes down to the type of roof style your car has. Installation methods for these roof styles will differ. Let’s take a closer look at the different roof systems you may encounter and how you install the roof racks on each.

Bare Roof Systems

Bare roof systems are those that come with no rails, rain gutters, or fixed mounts. Vehicles with roofs such as this include the Toyota Auris and the Toyota Tundra Crewmax. Installing roof racks on your bare roof Toyota is simple if you choose to use a clamp-on roof rack system. Roof racks designed by Toyota for this come with easy-to-follow installation instructions:

  1. Check the installation manual. Here, you will find the location of the four installation points on your vehicle. 
  2. These points are spaced relative to the beam pillar (the beam found between the two doors of your car). The manual will state the distance from the beam pillar that the racks will need to be placed. 
  3. Measure out the specified points. Once done, clean the area inside the door frame at these four locations. 
  4. Apply the included protective film at each of the four points under the overhang of the door frame. 
  5. Put together the elements that comprise your roof racks as per the instructions in the manual. This will include the connecting of the Toyota roof rack pads and the wind noise spoilers. 
  6. It is now time to install the rack system. Line up the roof racks with the protective film you have already applied to the door frames. And insert the clamp into the gap. 
  7. Use the included torque key to half tighten the roof racks in place. Once you are satisfied with their positioning, tighten each one thoroughly. 
  8. Install the rubber T-slot cover on each rack and trim them to size. You may need to use a little liquid soap to help these slots slide into place easily. 
  9. Place the covers over each of the four clamps and lock them in place with the supplied key.
  10. Check the stability of all the racks to ensure they are connected. Remember to repeat this check after every 1000 km traveled. 

While this system is excellent for vehicles like the Auris, the Toyota Tundra Crewmax needs a more sturdy design. One such system would be the Front Runner Toyota Tundra Crewmax (2007-current) Slimline II Roof Rack Kit. The kit requires installation by drilling, usually where the weatherstrips are located. Once you have prepared your holes, complete the installation by bolting the rack into the truck’s cab roof. A tricky sounding concept but simple to do once you know how:

  1. Locate the weather stripping and remove it. The strips pop out easily, and the area beneath them must then be cleaned thoroughly.
  2. Take the side rails, and locate them where you would like to have the rack sit.
  3. Once you are happy with the placement, mark off where the drill holes will need to go. Measure each side to ensure you have the rails accurately placed. Remember, these markings must be made in the weather duct and line up in the duct’s center. 
  4. Time to drill your holes! Ensure you have noted the correct depth to drill down. (you don’t want to damage any internal elements of your Toyota) Record as well the width the hole needs to be. Take note that you are drilling into metal. As such, your drill bit may need a little time to cool down after you make each hole. 
  5. Remember, it is imperative to vacuum up any metal filings once you have finished drilling.
  6. Using a Q-Tip, seal the edges of the hole with a silicone-based sealant. 
  7. Place the rivnuts into the holes you have drilled.
  8. Next, thread the screw with the required washers into the rivnuts. Place your side rails, and, using the screws, mount them in place.
  9. Tighten the screws and ensure the side rails are fixed. 
  10. Attach the pre-formed racks to the side rails as per the instructions provided. Check to see that the roof rack and rails are all firmly secured in place. 

Fixed Point Systems

A fixed-point roof system comes with four or more factory-installed fixed mounting points to attach your roof racks to. These fixed-point systems need no drilling, but they need a little more effort to install than the clamp-style roof racks. Toyota vehicles that require this form of installation include the Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Tacoma, and the Toyota 4Runner. Each rack system will come with its own particular set of instructions. But, the method remains mostly the same for the installation of these racks:

  1. Find each of the four covered mounting points. You can find these points under covers or beneath the weather guards on your vehicle’s roof.
  2. Once located, remove the cover from the points and give them a proper clean. 
  3. If your car comes with a weather guard trim covering these points, make corresponding markings where the mounting points sit. Cut the trim to fit back in place while accommodating the roof rack. Once resized, place the trim back in the weather ducts. 
  4. Cover the exposed holes with a fair dollop of silicone and place the spacers included in your kit over the holes. Press the spacers down so that a fair amount of silicone oozes out from the sides of the spacers. The silicone safeguards your roof from leaks and water damage.
  5. Line up the roof rack over the spacers and slip it into place. Once correctly placed, tighten the roof rack up.
  6. Test the racks in each direction to see that they are firmly connected.

Bed Rack Systems 


Roof racks don’t just go on the roof when you have a truck. The bed of your vehicle provides an impressive space to add in a rack system, known as a bed rack. These racks attach to the bed rails of the bin of the truck. A rack system placed on the truck bed is ideal for rooftop tents and to create a second level of storage. The Toyota Tacoma is one such vehicle that allows for a bed rack, such as the RCI Off Road 2005-2020 Toyota Tacoma Bed Rack. Installation of these bed racks is simple and easy to do at home:

  1. Take off the plastic caps at the ends of the bed tracks. Also, remove the tie-down cleats from the bed track. 
  2. Measure the length of the track and divide it equally into three sections. Insert three backing plates into the bed tracks on each side. Space them equally apart at your pre-measured points - one on either end and one in the middle.
  3. Now it is time to install each of the cross-members to be equally spaced across the truck’s bed. Three cross-members will need to be installed. Do not bolt them down just yet.
  4. It is now time to add the side panels to the cross-members. Using the included washers, bolts, and nuts, connect the side panels. You will find that these panels keep the spacing of your cross members exact. 
  5. In the same manner, attach the top brace to the crossbars. 
  6. Once all these elements are in place and are tightly secured, you can tighten the bolts that attach the crossbars to the bed tracks. 
  7. Reinstall the removed cleats and place the plastic caps back in position. 

To Sum Up

Installing your Toyota roof rack system becomes simple once you know how to go about the task. After perusing the methods discussed here, we are sure you will find it simple to complete the installation at home. With that being said, it is time for you to find the roof rack system that best suits your Toyota. Head on over to our selection of roof racks designed just for Toyotas to find the rack system designed for your car.  If you drive a Tacoma be sure to read our blog on Best Overland Racks for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacomas