Posted by Rack Attack on 05-22-2015 under Base Rack Systems
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What does a Yakima Q-Tower Pack Include?

What is a Yakima Q-Tower System, how does it work, how do I install it, and what else is required?

When you first dive into the world of roof racks, things can seem a little confusing. But by the end of this short article you will be a roof-rack expert, armed with everything you need to know to start carrying stuff on your roof.

What does a Yakima Q-Tower Pack Include?

The most simple answer is that it includes just the Q-Towers.

The Basics of a Roof Rack

A base roof rack system (for cars with a regular naked roof) has four main components. With the Yakima brand these components are:

  • Q-Towers: the main part of the rack. They attach the bars to the roof.
  • Crossbars: the actual bars crossing the width of your roof. These are attached to the Q-Towers.
  • Q-Clips: To safely secure the Q-Towers to your roof, you need Q-Clips. While Q-Towers are universal, the Q-Clips are specially engineered for your vehicle. By using the proper clips (which almost always attach in the vehicle’s door jams) you will securely mount the Q-Towers to the roof of your car.

These are the fundamental components of a roof rack. We also suggest you get four lock cores to lock the rack to your roof. Fairings can be added to reduce any wind-noise. Once you have bars you can then add any accessory, like bike racks, cargo boxes, or ski racks, to your car.

How does the Q-Tower System Work?

For most cars (some brands, BMW and Mazda notably have little trap doors on the roof where the rack mounts) Q-Towers are a compression fit. This means that they are held on to the car by tightening the towers, pulling them together, squeezing the roof of your car. This mounting technique is not only secure and safe, but it requires no alterations or modifications to the actual vehicle. This makes this type of roof rack ideal for anyone who wants the ability to remove the rack completely at some point (a requirement for most leased cars).

How do you Install a Q-Tower System Roof Rack?

The Q-Towers come with instructions on how to prepare them, but the process is simple. You put the towers on the bars and measure the appropriate distance (according to the measurements found in the Q-Clip instructions). Once you have the towers at the correct width on the bar, the towers are tightened in place on the bar.

At this point you mount the clips (and the rubber pads which come with the clips) to the q-towers. Many vehicles use different clips for the front and rear bars, so make sure to keep track of which goes where. Once you have the clips mounted, you need to loosen off the adjusting screw on the Q-Towers, and place the bars on the roof of your car.

Find your Fit!

After measuring the distance of the front bar from the edge of the windshield (the measurements are in the Q-Clip instructions) and the distance from the front bar to the rear bar (this is known as the bar spread), all you have to do is tighten down the adjusting screws, and clamp down the rack on the roof.

You don’t need to over tighten. If the tower cover isn’t closing with only a little force, then you have tightened the rack too much. Just back it off until you can clamp the towers closed, and lock the rack.

Once tightened down you should be able to push and pull on the bar without it moving on the roof, at all. Q-Towers with the proper Q-Clips fit so perfectly snug, you should be able to use your grip on the bar to rock the car.

Does Thule Offer A Similar Rack System?

Absolutely. Thule’s system, the 480 Traverse Tower, works in exactly the same way, fundamentally, only the design of the towers/bars/clips are different. Installation is basically the same and there is no reason to say one brand is better than the other, in general.

It’s important note that some cars work better with one brand than the other. Always check both fits on our roof rack fit guide, and look for differences. Each fit will tell you what it can carry, how many pounds, and any warnings or notes. While most cars are the same across all brands, some will have a clear choice for the most robust fit.

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