Does a Bike Rack Damage Your Car? 7 Key Factors to Prevent it

In general, properly installed and used bike racks shouldn’t damage your car. However, it’s important to follow manufacturer instructions and ensure the rack is secure to prevent any potential scratching or dents.

Does a Bike Rack Damage Your Car?

You’re planning to go on a trip with your family to see the Alps. You also have a plan to take your bike there in order to bike ride around the hills area. So, how can you take your bike in there? The straightforward answer is a bike rack. A bike rack can help you to take the bike safely anywhere.

But many people have a question: Does a bike rack damage the vehicle? Well, we’ll discuss different types of bike racks in this article. Moreover, we’ll also talk about some essential tips for selecting, installing, and maintaining bike racks to prevent any damage.

So, let’s begin the discussion on how to use this gear without causing any damage to the paintings or any scratches on your vehicle. Here we go –

What is a Bike Rack?

What is a Bike Rack

Before starting the discussion, we should know what is a bike rack. A bike rack is basically a bicycle carrier. It is a perfect gear that you can fasten to your car for hassle-free bike transportation. Apart from the bike, you can also convey other sporting equipment, such as a kayak, ski rack, etc., through a bike rack.

Laws Regarding Bike Rack

The laws regarding bike racks can vary in different countries. However, several things are pretty common. You should follow these laws in order to escape massive fines or penalties from the defense force. Let’s check –

  • Ensure that the rack doesn’t hide the license plate or taillight. The license plate must be visible to everyone. You must use an extra plate if you’re using the bike rack car rear.
  • The bike rack must be appropriately fitted in the car. You should get help from a professional or maintain the guidelines provided by the manufacturing company while installing the rack.
  • The bike should be appropriately fastened inside the rack. This is how you can skip any potential incident.

Apart from these things, I recommend you check the state law before using a bike rack in the car. You’ll shoot your feet if you don’t notice it. So, be safe and drive according to the guidelines.

How to Choose a Bike Rack that Won’t Make any Damage to Your Car?

This is the pre-requisite to keep the car undamaged or unharmed. You must choose a perfect bike rack that won’t make any harmful impact on the car. Here are 7 key factors to consider when selecting a bike rack that won’t cause any damage to the vehicle –


Bike Rack Material

Before buying a bike rack, check whether it is made of steel or aluminum. These racks will provide long-lasting performance. Moreover, check for rubber or foam padding racks in areas that come into contact with your vehicle.

This is the best possible way to prevent any scratches on the vehicle.

Weight Capacity

Check the weight capacity of the bike rack. You should ensure that it can fit the combined weight of the bikes. Exceeding the weight limit can heavily damage the vehicle.


Ensure the rack is compatible with the car’s exact model and year.

Choose the Right Size Bike Rack

Bike Rack Weight Capacity

The appropriate bike rack size mainly depends on the car’s model. Nevertheless, you can’t select a bike rack that is small for the bike. Therefore, you must purchase a larger-sized rack. Another thing is if you don’t have a larger-sized rack that can accommodate the bike, you can buy an extension.

Consequently, you need to read the manual to get the instruction regarding extending the rack.

Set Up the Bike Perfectly

The next step is to set up the bike perfectly after selecting the right bike rack that matches your lifestyle and vehicle. It’s a crucial step, so you must do this task appropriately. If you aren’t confident enough to complete the job, you better take assistance from a professional.

Check the Rack a Few Times

Take adequate time to check the bike rack and bikes. So, you’re damn sure that they’re stable and fit perfectly. Hence, inspect the rack a few times. Then, adjust any loose straps, and ensure all other elements are thoroughly attached.

Clean the Debris

Clean the car from debris, dust, or residues before installing the bike rack. Hence, the rack will match satisfactorily and drastically reduce the chance of damaging the vehicle.

It’s highly recommended to drive carefully. No matter whatever sort of bike rack you select, transporting even one bike alters the size of your car.

Install the Bike Rack on the Car

How to Install the Bike Rack Properly on the Car

Do you want to know how to install the bike rack correctly? Well, I’ll share my hands-on experience with you. I installed a rack on my SUV last year. Additionally, I can assure you that you’ll be able to install the rack in just 2 minutes by following my guidelines –

First, open up the rack and place the bottom feat on the car’s bumper. The upper foot should be placed in the car’s window. Put the upper feat softly so there won’t be any pressure on the car window.

Now, it’s time to attach the straps to the car. I fastened one strap in the lower bumper. I fastened the second stripe on the car’s side and another one on top. Make sure the straps are flat across the top.

The rack had six straps. I fastened the other straps just like the previous process I shared with you. After that, I attached the bicycle to the rack. 

So, this is how I did my job and I didn’t need any professional. You can go to a professional if you can’t do it alone. Further, checking the instruction manual before doing the task is necessary.

What to Do If Somehow the Car Damaged by a Bike Rack

If somehow the car gets damaged by a bike rack, you can take some measures. Let’s check what type of measurement you can take to do it –

Take Notes Regarding the Damage

Take a smartphone or a DSLR camera to take the damaged parts and document the exact date, time, and place.

Contact with Insurance Company

You can make contact with the insurance company regarding the situation. They’ll assess the whole situation. Hence, you need to provide them with the original and correct documents. After the assessment, they’ll compensate for the damage if they find the truth.

Contact a Shop

You should contact a repair shop to get a proper estimation of the damage and cost.

There’s a possibility of scratching the paint of the car. So, you must take measures to prevent it

Do you want to scratch the car’s paint using the bike rack? Of course, not! Who wants to damage the paint job of an expensive car? Nobody! But to do it, you need to take some preventive measures. Here I’ll discuss some tips about it –

Prevent Car Damage from Bike Rack
  • Find a rack that is made of high-quality materials. Don’t use a cheaper or low-quality one.
  • Use rubberized or padded bike frame holders and straps to minimize potential friction between the bikes and the rack.
  • Install protective covers or padding on contact points between the rack and your vehicle to prevent paint damage.
  • Be careful when loading and unloading bikes to avoid accidental influences on your car.
  • Tighten the rack with the car appropriately during transportation. As a result, there won’t be any chance the rack gets loose and the bike makes any unnecessary movement that could result in a scratch or damage to the car’s paint. 
  • Read the instructions from the manual guide thoroughly. Don’t neglect it.
  • You can consult with a car repair shop to fasten the car perfectly. So, there won’t be any chance the car can damage the paint.

Before purchasing a bike rack, do research thoroughly. Since it’s an expensive and sensitive product, making the wrong step could be costly. Perform online research to know which rack perfectly suits your car. Take your time. Don’t rush and buy the best.


Is it legal to drive a car with a bike rack?

It’s not illegal at all. But you should follow the general guidelines. Further, you should also know the state laws before appearing with it on the street.

Can I put a bike rack on my car?

Yes, you can do it. But you need to follow the guidelines to avoid any potential damage to the car.

How can I prevent the bike rack from scratching the car?

You can keep foam tape inside the metal attachment clips to keep them from scratching the car. You should also consider securing the rack properly in the car.

Is it safe to drive long distances with a bike rack?

Yes, it is. But it will make a deep impact on your gas consumption. So, it’s not recommended. Further, if you’re not using a SUV or a highly expensive car, I’ll not advise you to drive long distances with a bike rack. The small-sized car can face risk while conveying a bike rack over the head for a long time.

Wrapping Up

Yes, the bike rack can pose a danger to your car. But the proper installation, choosing the right one, and using a significant amount of safety measures can decrease the chance of any potential damage. The insightful purchasing of a rack, careful consideration, and proper maintenance can clinch a hassle-free and enjoyable cycling experience.

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.