Adding a Rear Tie-down to the Back of a Car for Safely Carrying a Canoe or Kayak... or Anything Else for That Matter.





Introduction: Adding a Rear Tie-down to the Back of a Car for Safely Carrying a Canoe or Kayak... or Anything Else for That Matter.

Every try to tie something down to the roof of your car? Without anchor points under the front and back of the car, it's just not safe to carry anything on the roof whether it be a canoe or a Christmas tree. I think that this rear tie-down will do the trick for just about any automotive rear anchoring need.

Step 1: A Honda Odyssey Has No Rear Tie-down Points. None.

Last week I took my daughter canoeing at a lake near our house. First time in years that I have loaded our canoe on a car, and never on our current car, a 2011 Honda Odyssey. I was really surprised to find out that it had no rear attachment points for securing any kind of cargo underneath -- nothing. So I jury-rigged something and went the two miles to the lake very slowly. I didn't like that feeling at all, especially knowing we're going to be taking the canoe with us on vacation in a couple of weeks 300 miles away. Did a search and found out that Thule makes a really clever Quick Loop Strap Figured I could make one for less than half the cost. All told, it cost about $8.00 and took only a half hour to make!

Step 2: What You'll Need to Make a Rear Tie-down Strap

The radiator hose was far and away the most expensive part of this project and the only thing I had to purchase, everything else I had on hand. It cost $15.00. There's enough straight section of hose on this one to make two tie-downs so $7.50 spent and some odds and ends vs. the $25 on amazon for the same thing with the Thule name on it? You betcha!

8" section of 3" diameter radiator hose

Grommet and attachment kit (hole punch, anvil, and drift pin-like thingy)

2 heavy duty zip ties

37" length of 1" nylon strapping (the length and width are variable depending on your specific application)

utility knife

lighter or source of flame

hack saw or a band saw

tape measure

hemostats or long needle nose pliers



hammer (not pictured)

Step 3: Cutting and Prepping the Hose

Measure and cut an 8 inch straight section from the radiator hose. Measure to the middle of the hose (4 inch mark) and measure 9/16 on either side of the 4 inch mark. Then carefully cut along that line to make a slit in the hose that is slightly larger than the width of the strapping. BE CAREFUL! Radiator hose is tough stuff and doesn't cut easily.

Repeat this process on the exact opposite side of the hose to make a second slit.

Step 4: Cutting the Strap

I need a 36 inch piece of strapping to be the right size for my car. Your needs will likely be different than mine, but 36 inches should work for most vehicles. Remember how I said you'd need 37 inches of strap? To help make the strap easier to pull through the hose, cut an angle into one end. After it gets pulled through, you'll cut the angle off to make it flush again. Melt the angled end with a flame source to ensure that it won't fray when pulled through the hose.

Step 5: Pulling the Strap Through the Hose

This is where your hemostats or long needle nose pliers will come in super handy to pull the strap through the hose. Push your pliers into the hose through one of the slits and then out the other side through the other slit. Grab hold of the strap and pull it through. Easy! Trim off the angled end of the strap we trimmed in the last step and you now have a 36 inch tie-down strap. Melt both ends this time with your flame source to keep them from fraying.

Step 6: Punching Holes and Attaching the Grommet

The grommet set that I have came with an anvil and a driver of sorts to have the grommet seat properly on the material its um, grommeting. I didn't get any pics of them really except for the very first pic where they are called out in the photo. The photos shown here of the grommet going into the white cloth aren't mine and are just here to illustrate how a grommet is attached instead me describing it for four or five paragraphs. :-)

Center your hole punch on the overlapped (make sure they're not twisted!) straps so your punching through both straps at once. You're going to do this twice. The grommet is a connector and doesn't have a great amount of strength, so we want it to do the least amount of work that it has to. If the ends of the strap were simply grommeted in place, it would be fairly weak. By folding it over the majority of the stress is put onto the strap and lets the grommet do its main job as a connector.

Make your first hole about an inch-inch and a half from the end of the straps. Make your second hole about 5 inches farther down the strap. This will give you a two and a half inch loop to connect ropes, hooks, etc. to. If you'd like a larger loop, just make the second hole even farther down the strap.

Once the holes are made, fold the strap over itself so the holes line up with one another. Push the male grommet through the holes in both straps and put the collar over it on the other side. Rest the male side down on the anvil and put the seating driver on top. Whack it couple of times with a hammer - you'll feel the grommet seat completely usually by the second hammer strike.

Step 7: A Little Extra Strength - Zip Ties

While the grommeting would probably be strong enough to secure the strap loop on its own, I prefer to hedge my bets that it will be strong enough by adding a little extra oomph to it by using a couple of zip ties to help anchor the grommet in place.

The zip ties are good size, at least 6 inches long and quarter inch wide. Wrap them around the outside edges of the grommet and pull them tight. Trim off the excess with scissors. Done!

Step 8: Fit and Demo

I think that this will work really well at helping to secure our canoe to the car. Easy to remove when you need access to the hatch and easy to store in the car when not in use too.

Check out my other Instructable about making a Thule Portage ™ replica canoe carrier for $11 here: Home made canoe carrier for $11

I hope this helps folks out who were in the same boat (har har har) as I was. Very easy to make, very inexpensive and should be included with every Honda Odyssey or vehicle not equipped with rear anchor points!



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    12 Discussions

    I did, but not this style. I just made a loop with the strap, punched a hole in it, grommeted it and attached it using an exisiting fender bolt. They worked like a charm (as did the one in this instructable :-) ) on the 700 mile round-trip drive to and from downeast Maine last week.


    1 year ago

    This is a very clever way to create a tie down. Many of today's cars are made without tie downs. Just a thought, if you place a piece of PVC or a wooden dowel inside the hose after inserting the strap so that the strap was wrapped around the rod, it would add strength and the hose would be there to protect the finish of your car. Either way, this is a great idea. I'm making one soon.

    1 reply

    I think that's a really good idea... with PVC it would remain light weight, it would pretty much eliminate the chance, however small, of the strapping tearing the hose, you'd just have to get the correct corresponding sizes of pipe and hose to ensure a good fit. If you make one, I'd love to see it!

    Could you not use PVC instead of radiator hose? I think it would be much cheaper. Cool idea, BTW.

    3 replies


    I had thought about using PVC, but was concerned with a couple things about it. It's very rigid and could potentially crack. PVC weakens in sunlight over time and I'm not sure how it would handle the temperature changes that can happen inside a car on a hot day as well. The radiator hose is very flexible, very strong, can withstand a great range of temperatures, and is pliable enough not chafe the edge of the strap like PVC might.

    You could use the gray electrical conduit pvc. It's rated for above-ground use.

    Yes, I think you could that or PVC as well, it's just that I see the flexibility of the hose as an important asset. If it were to have the hatch close on it (user error, to which I am sometimes prone, for example) the hatch would just bounce off, the hose would be unhurt, and the tie-down would be adjusted and hatch closed properly. With the conduit, likely all those same things would occur but there is the chance that the conduit would crack. Plus the rubber hose rubbing up against the inside of the hatch/trunk/what-have-you would likely not mark up the vehicle as conduit or PVC might.


    1 year ago

    Do you haul the canoe with the hatch open? I'd be very worried about sucking CO into the car.

    1 reply

    No, the hatch is closed and sealed, the length of nylon strapping is the only part protruding. Since the strap is so thin, the hatch closes no problem.

    Nice design. Thanks for sharing.