Does A Bike Rack Damage Your Car? (Shocking Answer)

Updated on
Does A Bike Rack Damage Your Car

Nothing’s more embarrassing than a huge scratch on the back of your car. Trust me I’ve been there a few times. What’s worse is that the damage was preventable!

The best way to take your bike to the trails is with a bike rack. But, this thought creeps into your head…

Does a bike rack damage your car?

The short answer is YES, it can if you aren’t careful. But, you can stop the paint from getting scratched on your car.

Your problems can start right after you first mount your bike rack to your car.

I will tell you a few simple ways you can prevent any scratches from ruining your perfect paint job and also the best way to put each rack on your car!

Best Ways To Stop Bike Rack Damage To Your Car

Regardless of the type of bike rack you use, there will always be a chance of scraping and you could cause damage.

There are horrifying stories of bike rack accidents that left vehicles with thousands of dollars in repair costs.

You don’t want that to happen to you, particularly if the accident is your fault, and getting insurance cover will be difficult.

The following will help you avoid car damages caused by bike racks.

Proper Installation

It all starts with the installation. Even if you own a rack before, make sure to read the manufacturer’s manual before installing a new one.

Follow the instructions and use the materials that come with the platform. Don’t improvise.

Make sure you install the bike rack on a clean, dirt-free, non-greasy surface. Failure to do so may prevent your bikes from sitting properly on the rack.

An Extra Layer Of Protection

You can use protection films. I highly suggest Lamin-x Roof Rack Guard or Scotchguard clear paint protector to reduce bike rack damage on your vehicle. You can check them both out on Amazon.

Some racks come with clear protective paper that you can attach to spots where your bikes have contact with your vehicle.

Proper Mounting

You may have everything in order and still cause damage if you fail to secure your bike properly.

Use the correct straps and make sure to check that the bicycles are mounted the right way before moving.

Double check that nothing is out of place to keep your bikes and car in excellent condition.

More Bike Rack Problems

While a bike rack offers a simple and safe way to transport your bicycle, the attachment can damage your car and the bike it is carrying. Here are ways a bicycle rack can damage your car:

  1. If you mount the rack when your car is dirty, you risk scratching the paint. Make sure your car is clean and dirt-free before you install the rack.
  2. Your car can get damaged if the bicycle is not secured. This will cause the bicycles to move and sway while driving, increasing the risk of scratches to your car, or worse.
  3. When your bicycle is not firmly secured, the pedals can move in transit, scratching your vehicle.

You can prevent many of these accidents by following simple safety tips.

Which Type Of Bike Rack Is The Most Likely To Damage My Car?

Out of all the types of bike racks a trunk bike rack is the mostly damage your car.


Because the trunk mount bike rack is the only type of bike rack that comes into full contact with your car. Any scratches or damage you get on cars trunk can be seen.

If you scratch the roof of car it’s not a big deal because most people aren’t checking out roof (unless they are really into cars then you got a problem).

Hitch mount bike racks never touch your car since they are attached to the hitch. The only way you’re messing up your paint job is if you accidently let your bike rack fall into your car.

So that just leaves the trunk rack. If you have a trunk rack you need be extra careful. Keep reading because I’m going to give you some tips some helpful tips to install your trunk rack. And all the other racks too!

Types Of Bicycle Racks

There is a variety of bike racks that allow you to mount your bicycle at different locations on your vehicle. Depending on the car you use and bike design; the following bike racks are ideal for transporting your bicycle.

All three rack types come with potential challenges that can damage your car. Your car can get a scratch while mounting the rack, while you’re driving or when dismounting the bike.

A lot of things can go wrong with a bike rack, but you can reduce the risk of damage by taking necessary precautions.

Tips To Install Roof Racks  

The roof rack comprises load bars, feet, and the bicycle tray. This is an excellent choice if your car already has rails, crossbars or mounting points to secure the rails.

You can also build your rack by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Roof racks can transport cargo boxes, luggage, surfboards, small boats and more. The arrangement allows for easy access to your car’s cabin and trunk and limits the potential damage to your vehicle.

You should remember these tips when using a roof rack.

  • Don’t forget you are hauling bikes overhead.
  • Be careful during the loading and unloading process to avoid ruining your paint job.
  • Avoid overloading.
  • Be mindful of low overpasses when carrying bikes on the roof rack.

Tips To Install Hitch Rack

The hitch rack mounts on the tow receiver at the rear of your vehicle. The rack is designed to carry a maximum of 5 bikes at once. You can go for the platform or hanging cradle design.

The hanging cradle offers a platform which your bikes hang from and are less expensive. It offers more ground clearance but can’t secure its cargo firmly in transit.

Platform style hitch racks sit on the tow receiver of your vehicle. It offers more security, preventing damage to your bikes and vehicle.

You should avoid overloading the bike rack to prevent damage to the rack and your bikes.

The following tips will help prevent damage when using a hitch rack.

  • Make sure your bikes are secured firmly to the platform to prevent them from hitting or scraping your vehicle.
  • Check your blind spots while reversing because the hitch rack can obscure visibility at the car’s rear.
  • Provide enough ground clearance to prevent your bicycles from hitting the road in transit.
  • Ensure you lock the bikes so they don’t sway while driving.
  • Keep your bike tires away from the vehicle exhaust so they don’t melt.

Tips To Install Trunk Mount Racks

Trunk mounted backs are the most affordable of all bike racks and they are simple to install. The rack comes with a platform that rests on the car trunk with straps to secure the bike firmly.

One of the only disadvantages to these bike racks are they make it almost impossible to use your trunk and you can’t carry more than 2-3 bikes.

Here are safety tips to remember when using trunk mounted bike racks.

  1. The straps can snap back at you when still new, so make sure to secure it properly.
  2. Over time, the straps will stretch and won’t be able to secure your bikes tightly.
  3. The pedals can damage your paint. Turn the pedals towards your license plate to avoid this issue.
bike rack problems

The Bottom Line

A bike rack is an excellent gear for transporting your bicycles, but using one incorrectly can damage your vehicle and your bikes.

Nothing is a worse feeling than having to dig into your pockets to fix avoidable damage.

Taking a few extra minutes to make sure proper mounting with an extra layer of protection on your car can go a long way to keeping your paint looking fresh.

Photo of author
Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

7 thoughts on “Does A Bike Rack Damage Your Car? (Shocking Answer)”

  1. For a trunk mounted rack; please share with me in an e-mail the paint protector products you outlined above. I’m getting jammed up on time. I just got a 2018 Nissan Versa; I want to be sure the paint stays in pristine shape.
    My name is Steve Erhart, ph 720 676 8233.
    Great article; I had no idea paint damage could even be a problem.

  2. Before choosing a type of car bike rack, it is important to consider the frequency of use, vehicle compatibility, the number of bikes needing transport and how much you want to spend.

  3. I take pleasure in, lead to I found just what I used to be looking for.
    You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have
    a nice day. Bye

  4. Unfortunately, many parking facilities provided for cyclists are poorly designed and remain unused. Cyclists are forced to lock their bikes to trees and posts, or lean them against building fronts and windows. This not only creates an eyesore, but causes damage to property and becomes a hazard to pedestrians.

Comments are closed.

The Biking Apex

Copy and paste this code to display the image on your site