$25 DIY Roof Cross Bars




Introduction: $25 DIY Roof Cross Bars

Cars these days don't include the cross bars to go with your roof rack. The factory bars can cost upwards of $350 a set.

My mission was to make cross bars from readily available parts you can find at any hardware store.

The design is simple and easily removable.

Step 1: Gathering the Parts

After deciding on a general design in my head, i headed to the hardware store's plumbing section to see what i could find.
What i ended up with was;

1 - 10' 3/8"x16 threaded rod
2 - 5' 1/2" EMT conduit
2 - 5' 3/4" NSF poly black water line
4 - 3/8" hex nuts
4 - 1" galvanizes Clevis Hangers

this all comes to about $22

Step 2: Measuring and Trial Fitting

i loosely fit the clevis hangers to the rails to get an idea of where i wanted the rail located.

measure the distance from the inner face bracket to bracket. (in the picture, mine shows about 39 3/4")

Remember to measure both front and back! my bars were wider at the rear of the car!

take the measurement, add 1/2" and cut the threaded rod to length.

Step 3: Preparing the Brackets

For this step, i removed the brackets and glued rubber to the side that will be contacting the factory rails.
this will prevent the paint from being scratched later while mounting the bars.

Step 4: More Measuring and Cutting

after you have the brackets loosely mounted to the rails, insert the threaded rod that you cut to length earlier.

add 1 nut to the rod to hold it in place.

MEASURE the inner distance between the bracket again because the rubber padding may have moved the brackets alittle.

use this measurement + 1/8" to cut your EMT Conduit.

Step 5: Assembly With the Pipes

unbolt one bracket to slide the conduit onto the threaded rod.

cut the black poly water line 1/4" to1/2" longer than the conduit

the purpose of the black plastic pipe is to add a non metallic surface that will protect your luggage from scratches and also adds to the look of the bar.

no messy painting, no paint to chip off, makes it look like the whole cross bar was worth more than the $25 you put into it :)

Step 6: Finish It!

now that you have the bar assembled, reinstall the bolt into the clevis hanger and tighten

since i shortened the bolt threads, i was able to tighten until the nut hit the end of the threads

this step will force the hangers to conform to the shape of your factory rails

if your happy with the looks, repeat the process from step #2 on to make the rear cross bar

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    With due respect, I think that you have to go back to the drawing board with this one; I think it is important that people do not attempt to implement it.

    The problem is the way you have attached the crossbars to the siderails. Admirably, you have made a low-profile rack. But at the cost of a huge loss of strength.

    You really have to extend the crossbars so that they can rest on top of the siderails and transfer weight directly to them.

    You'd be better off just taking two long poles, laying them across the siderails, and tying them down with cord.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I agree but perhaps the general design could be salvaged by using longer crossbars then a longer bolt through the clevis hangers could go through the bar.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Agree with Jason and dstand completely. I'm sorry, but this is just bad engineering. Building everything in tension, and suspending your load between the lateral rails (rather than using them for support) is asking for trouble.

    For a much more sound solution, see for ex.: http://www.jeeppatriot.com/forum/showthread.php?t=105929

    Jason Ferrante
    Jason Ferrante

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree with dstand 100%.

    I would say this could be used for skis (or less). But for the same cost you could build something far more secure.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, and the cost is great, Maybe you'd want to paint the clevis hangers black too, to match the car's original rack a bit better, but obviously that's not critical. Very nice instructable. Thanks.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Good job on the ible.

    just a few questions.

    have you loaded any weight onto this set up yet?

    how well do the clevis hangers work as connectors? (is there any sag there once weight is applied)

    have you noticed any noise from the crossbars when you get up on the highway?

    that 3M tape looks ideal for a project I am planning. where did you get it?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Well done, d311_5uxor. I suggest you an improve: add some hooks along the cross pipes. That makes very easy to tie anything, without pass all the rope under the pipes. You can read this instructable step of mine


    10 years ago on Introduction

    y'know, i wondered why they stopped including the crossbars and once you said they charge $350 for them it all made sense. greedy jerks.

    this looks like a great workaround, though. good job.