Can You Go Through a Carwash with a Ski Rack?

Yes, you can usually go through a carwash with a ski rack installed on your vehicle. However, it’s essential to ensure that the ski rack is securely attached and doesn’t interfere with the carwash equipment’s operation to avoid any potential damage.

Protect Your Ski Rack in Carwashes

Sports enthusiasts have a close relationship with ski racks since they are one of the most common pieces of sporting equipment. However, many ski lovers doubt whether they can go through a carwash with a ski rack.

This question has no direct answer since it generally depends on the type of car wash, ski rack, and vehicle size. However, I want to issue a warning regarding this.

The reason for the warning is that various incidents have occurred due to going through a carwash with a ski rack attached to the car. Doing so can damage the rack, the car, and other people’s property or pedestrians.

Most accidents happen because the racks get caught in the brushes or other moving parts of the carwash. Therefore, you must be aware of this if you want to wash the car with the attached ski rack.

In this article, I will thoroughly discuss what factors you need to consider before going through a carwash with a ski rack.

Let’s explore –

Should I Go Through a Carwash with Ski Racks? – In-Detail Guide

Ski and Snowboard Rack

Before going through a carwash with ski racks, you must consider some essential factors. They are –

Types of Carwash

The first and foremost thing you must keep in mind is that not all car washes provide the same level of service. For instance, some car washes use brushes to clean the car, while others use high-pressure water jets.

Car washes that use brushes are typically problematic when using a ski rack. Since the brush can catch on the rack, it can create an awkward situation for both the rack and the car.

On the other hand, high-pressure water jets can be a good option. They are much safer than brushes since they don’t come into contact with the vehicle, and there’s basically no chance they could damage the rack or the vehicle.

However, intense water pressure can harm the effectiveness of the rack. If the rack is new, it is best to avoid high-pressure water jets since the fierce water pressure can cause severe damage to the paint.

Types of Ski Rack

The type of ski rack is another determining factor in whether you can go through a car wash. Some racks can be easily removed, while others are more complicated to take off from the vehicle and may be permanently attached.

If you can remove the rack conveniently, it is recommended to do so before going through the car wash. However, if the rack is permanently fastened to the car, it is best to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturing company.

Size of the Vehicle

Vehicle size is also a significant factor when going through a car wash with a ski rack. If you are using a taller-sized vehicle, you may face problems during some types of car washes.

Additionally, if the car has a ski rack, you may face even more problems, which could pose a danger if a wrong move is made and can result in the leg or other body part fractures.

Hence, the extra height or width of the ski rack can make it extremely difficult to navigate the car wash safely. It is essential to be aware of your vehicle’s size and the ski rack’s dimensions before attempting to go through a car wash with the rack attached.

Why You Shouldn’t Carwash with a Ski Rack

thule ski racks

One thing is very simple – no car wash equipment is intended to wash any external gears of a vehicle. Car wash equipment is only built to clean the car, nothing more. If you modify your car, the whole responsibility will be yours, simple math.

The same thing goes for a ski rack. If you install a ski rack on top of your vehicle, you cannot expect the car wash equipment to do the same justice as it does with your car. As a result, it is a bad idea to wash the car with a ski rack attached.

Going through the car wash with a ski rack attached to it can partially or fully damage the rack. There is an even more significant possibility that the car wash equipment might break. Therefore, it is extremely risky.

Moreover, there is also a possibility that both scenarios can happen simultaneously, meaning both the rack and wash equipment can break. Then, what? You will have to pay for this. For this reason, most car experts and car manufacturing companies advise against it.

Now, I’ll show you the bigger picture of how such incidents can happen. Let’s have a look –

How the Ski Rack Can Get Damage

When you start a carwash with a brush, it can get stuck between the ski racks with the power it’s rotating with. As a result, the rack can partially or fully break. The use of high-pressure jets is also risky. The strong water can damage the paintwork of the rack.

Furthermore, the rack’s efficiency can also be harmed if you use a high-powered detergent or soap. The rack could get rusted, and it will permanently lose its effectiveness. The brushes and other cleaning gears used in carwash can scratch or scrape the ski rack’s surface.

This can also lead to cosmetic damage that could result in corrosion or rust. Furthermore, if the ski rack is not secured correctly in the car, there’s a big chance it can fall off and get damaged. There’s also a possibility of damaging other people’s cars, which could lead to legal trouble.

So, you must be careful if you choose to carwash with a ski rack.

How the Carwash Tools Can Get Damaged

The carwash equipment can also be damaged in the same way as the ski rack. The brushes can break from the machine when they get stuck into the rack. As a result, it will be unusable and increase your misery.

So, the best way is to hand wash or wash the car by removing the ski rack. This is certainly the best advice I can give you.

FAQs on Can I Go Through a Carwash with a Ski Rack

Q: Will a ski rack damage the car?

A: To be honest, if the ski rack is appropriately fitted onto the car and maintained correctly, there’s no chance it will damage the car. Furthermore, you should purchase a high-quality rack from well-known brand. If you opt for a cheaper option, things might go wrong. An over-torqued, under-torqued, or overloaded rack could cause massive damage.

Q: Can I go through a carwash with a Thule or Yakima Ski Rack?

A: Of course, you can do it. But remember that well-known brands can save your ass. Things could still go wrong if you fail to follow the manual instructions or the automated carwash process. So, I won’t recommend it. Since the ski rack is expensive, it’s good to stay careful.

Q: How can I clean under my ski rack?

A: If you want to clean under the ski rack, the best way is to hand wash it. Trust me; hand washing is the best possible method to do it. It can significantly reduce the chance of damaging the rack. There’s no high-pressure water, chemical application, or any equipment involved. Just take a fiber cloth and mild detergent and start washing. Yes, it may take time, but it will save your car and gear from any possible damage. Furthermore, it will also save you money.

Q: What precautions should I take before going through a carwash with a ski rack?

A: It’s suggested to remove the ski rack before beginning the carwash. If you can’t do it, fasten it securely to the car’s roof.


Don’t be over-optimistic. Remember this: going through a carwash with a ski rack is never a good option. It’s a hugely risky procedure from every angle. Since the carwash gears aren’t made to wash the car with additional equipment, it’s better to skip those gears with an external product like a ski rack.

Furthermore, taking such a risk with an expensive product like a ski rack wouldn’t be wise. So, if you want to wash the car, removing the rack is better. Alternatively, you can hand wash it at your home. If you can’t do it yourself, pay some money to a professional who can do it for you.

I hope my discussion has helped you to understand the risks of going through a carwash with a ski rack. I’ve tried to make you know, and now the rest is up to you. Thank you. Sharing is caring!

Automotive products are like an addiction to me. Years ago, I started my job at a Roof Box installation co. Then I realized that I have a passion for cars. It is a perfect scope to share my different experiences about automotive products.