How to Remove a Thule Roof Rack- Steps and Solutions

Do you have a Thule roof rack and are you a bit tense about removing it? We all know that Thule is the leading roof rack brand in the world. However, some people get anxious about the removal process of a Thule roof rack.

The truth is that the removal procedure for Thule roof racks isn’t as complicated as people think. It is pretty straightforward.

Thule roof racks are convenient to install and remove. Nevertheless, many people still fear installing and removing them. The lack of knowledge is the principal reason behind this. Many customers even call Thule customer care to solve this problem.

Thule roof racks come with consolidated locks. The rack system of Thule fastens to the car with a compression clamp system. Since the design is pretty simple, the rack removal process is relatively easy.

I also had the same apprehension about removing my Thule rack from my Audi car.

Thanks to my cousin, it became very convenient for me. Today, I’ll discuss my experience in detail and explain how to remove a Thule roof rack in 2023 without facing any hassle.

Let’s get into it –

How to Remove Thule Roof Bars – Step by Step

thule roof rack on a car

If we’re looking to remove a Thule roof rack from the car, there are a few steps we need to follow. However, we need tools to do the task perfectly before taking action. Let’s check which equipment we should use in order to remove a Thule roof rack.

Tools We Need:

Since the removal procedure is relatively effortless, we don’t need many tools. We can complete the job by using two tools:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Thule key

Finally, we will also need detergent powder for cleaning the task.

Anyway, it’s time to get into serious business and look at the steps. I’m sure my insight will be beneficial to you. Here we go –

Step 1 – Open the Door

It doesn’t take a long period to mount a Thule rack on the car. A couple of minutes is enough for that. Firstly, open the vehicle’s door on both sides under the roof rack mountings.

unlock the thule roof with key

Step 2 – Unlock the Lockable Knob

Since Thule produces an uncountable number of roof boxes each year, not all the boxes are identical. Some boxes contain a lock system and keys, while others do not. My Thule AeroBlade Edge roof rack possesses the unlocking system.

Therefore, I had to do the task the hard way when I removed my Thule rack!

Anyway, if your rack system is similar, you must unlock the lockable knob at the feet’s ground using the Thule key provided by the company.

After that, remove the plastic lock plugs carefully. Use a flathead screwdriver to do the task.

Twirl the Knob

Step 3 – Twirl the Knob

It’s a crucial step to follow. Firstly, we need to loosen the clamp by twisting the knob anticlockwise on the foot. Luckily, my rack has an AcuTight tool which made the task effortless. You can find it on the foot housing. In addition, Thule’s AcuTight is like Thor’s hammer –and I really like it!

Step 4 – Lifting the Roof Bar

Lift the roof bar in an upward direction and place it aside. If the rubber pads have adhered to the roof, use a plastic scraper or a credit card to detach them from the roof.

Step 5 – Cleaning Time!

It’s time to clean all the residue and dirt that may have accumulated under the rack. Besides, using high-quality detergent, a sponge, and clean water to wash is recommended.

Step 6 – Removing the Rack

Now, we’re at the final stage. Carefully remove the Thule roof rack by taking off each end cap and sliding them out. And that’s it!

unlock the thule roof rack

How to Open Thule Roof Rack Without Key

It’s not uncommon for users to lose essential keys. People tend to lose even their home keys! So, it’s easy to guess that losing a roof rack key is a common scenario for them! Now, I’ll show you how to unlock a Thule roof rack without a key. Let’s dive in to check –

Method 1 – Power Drill

  • First, measure the roof’s length with a measuring tape.
  • Now, we need to find the mid-point of the vehicle. Moreover, we should also find the halfway point of each roof side. The roof rack shouldn’t be too long or too short.
  • It’s time to use a power drill to loosen the rack bolt. Usually, power drills are heavy, and they can break the hardness of the rack’s lock effortlessly.

Method 2 – Using a Philips Head Screwdriver

You can use a Philips Head Screwdriver to free the Thule roof rack in this method.

  • First, use the driver to remove the screws.
  • Now, remove the rubber pads and disassemble the feet.

Method 3 – Using a Hex Wrench

A hex wrench is powerful enough to break the power of a Thule rack’s locking system. We can utilize it best by inserting it into the keyhole. In order to use the hex wrench as a key, we should put it on the lock and apply immense pressure on the “L” shaped hex wrench’s endpoint.

This pressure will completely crack the wave bolt. Thus, removing the roof bar becomes relatively easy.

Method 4 – Using a Paper Clip

The paper clip method is full of fun! Want to know the procedure? Well, first of all, we need a paper clip and a flathead screwdriver. Now, fasten the paper clip to the hole in the keyhole. Additionally, the pin will place maximum pressure on the lock.

Voila! The lock is almost dead! It’s time to break the bolt’s wave with the flathead screwdriver. The lock will be completely disabled and you can successfully open the rack to keep any equipment.

Method 5 – Using a Chisel

To remove the Thule roof rack using a chisel, we need a hammer to pull out the rack. Therefore, we should place the chisel in front of the bolt’s head and then place the chisel on the interior side of the plastic cover.

Place the screwdriver on the bolt’s other side. As a result, the screwdriver’s friction will be effectively reduced. Now, use the chisel again to remove the bolt.

Method 6 – Apply the Utmost Force

Although I’m not a fan of it, sometimes we need to apply the utmost force as there’s no other way around it. This method is applicable if you’re sure different ways aren’t working at all. Here’s how to use this method – take a rubber knob stick, then hit the crossbar’s end at the vehicle’s attachment.

We need to apply a good amount of force when we hit the crossbar since it’s the only way to lift it. But, don’t overdo it. The reason is hitting too hard can damage the roof. Conversely, the car’s paint can also be damaged.

Method 7 – Call a Locksmith

This is undoubtedly the last resort for us. I can assure you that it’s also a great way. Consequently, you can call a professional locksmith if you’re not confident enough to do the job.

A professional locksmith can efficiently help you unlock the rack. Furthermore, a locksmith will have the necessary tools and expertise to unlock the Thule roof bar without causing any damage to it.

It’s important to note that calling a locksmith may be more expensive than the other methods. Nevertheless, avoiding potential damage to your Thule roof rack is a safer option.

thule roof rack before unlock

Safety Measurements We Should Take to Remove Roof Racks Without Key

Removing roof racks without a key can be tricky, but it can be done safely with the right tools and techniques. Here are some tips to remove the roof racks safely:

Use the Correct Tools

We may need to use pliers or a wrench to remove the roof rack, depending on the fastener type used to fasten the rack to your car. Make sure you have the right tools on hand before you start. Without the right tool, things could be much trickier.

As a result, we should be aware of it.

Check the Manual

Before removing the roof rack, we should closely check the car manual or the manufacturer’s website. This is how we’ll be a constructive idea, of whether there are any specific instructions for removing it. In addition, this is a great way to save time and prevent any type of damage to the car.

Safeguard the Car

The vehicle is the most important thing for us, and we take any measure to protect it, right? So, it’s not strange that we should avoid scratches on it. Additionally, to prevent scratches or dents, place a towel or blanket on the car’s top before starting work on the roof rack.

This will help protect the car from any accidental scratches or damage.

Loosen the Fasteners

Use pliers or a wrench to loosen the fasteners that hold the roof rack in place. Start with the front and work your way to the back. Hence, be careful not to damage the fasteners or the car’s paint.

Remove the Rack

Once all the fasteners are loosened, carefully remove the roof rack from your car. If it is difficult to remove, gently pry it loose with a flathead screwdriver.

Check the Weather

It’s an intelligent decision not to do the task in rainy or winter weather. It’s better to do it during dry weather.

Clean Up

After removing the roof rack, clean any dirt or debris from the roof of your car. This will help prevent scratches or damage when you put the roof rack back on.

Remember to take your time and be patient when removing the roof rack. You can remove it safely without damaging your car with the right tools and techniques.

Some Important Words Regarding Keys

Losing keys is a common problem that many people face. From my experience, I understand that the safety of keys is one of our most critical tasks.

If you own a Thule roof rack, I recommend that you keep your keys in a safe place. The car’s glove box is an excellent option for storing the key after completing the task.

Additionally, you can make a copy of the original key to ensure that you have a backup. Replacement keys can be purchased online or from a locksmith. Remember that keeping your key safe and not losing it is much more convenient than losing it and making various efforts to unlock the rack.


Here are some most asked questions and answers on how to remove a Thule rack –

Why would I need to remove a Thule roof rack?

There could be several reasons for removing a Thule roof rack. The fundamental reasons are using the roof for other purposes, selling or trading in your vehicle, or replacing the rack with a newer or different model.

What tools do I need to remove a Thule roof rack?

The tools required may vary depending on the model of the Thule roof rack. Each model has unique designs. So, things can go by the circumstances. Notwithstanding, in general, you will need a wrench or socket set, pliers, and a screwdriver.

Do I need to remove the entire Thule roof rack system or just the accessories?

It depends on your specific situation. If you need to use the roof for other purposes, you may need to remove the whole rack system. If you are replacing accessories, perhaps you just need to remove those same materials.

How do I remove the accessories from the Thule roof rack?

The exact process will vary depending on the specific accessories you have installed. Usually, you will need to loosen or remove the bolts or screws holding the addition in place.

How do I remove my vehicle’s Thule roof rack system?

Again, the specific process will vary depending on the Thule roof rack model and your vehicle, but in general, you will need to remove any bolts or screws securing the rack to your vehicle’s roof. You may also need to loosen or remove any clamps or brackets holding the rack in place.

Are there any special precautions I should take when removing a Thule roof rack?

Yes, be sure to read the Thule roof rack manual carefully before removing any components. Then, you should follow all instructions and safety precautions. It is also essential to use caution when working on the vehicle’s roof and to have a helper available to assist you if needed.

How can I unlock a Thule hitch lock?

You can unlock the Thule hitch lock using the required code. You can find it in the lock’s back part. However, you need to find a person who is a specialist in technical language to find out the alphanumeric code on the wave’s reverse.

Are Thule keys universal?

Every Thule user must keep it in their minds. The Thule keys are not universal. These keys are only used for specific makes and models of cars. Moreover, the key’s overall body structure also changes for different types of vehicles. So, making one type of key for all vehicles is impossible.

How can I remove a Thule roof rack?

You can effortlessly remove a Thule roof rack by loosening the bolts that hold it in the right place. After that, you need to glide it off of the roof.

Where should I keep my Thule roof rack when I’m not using it?

After disassembling the roof rack, keep it somewhere dry or store it in an isolated place.

What’s the best way to clean a Thule roof rack?

The best way to clean a Thule roof rack is to use mild detergent, water solution, and clean cloth. That’s enough.

Can I use a Thule roof rack on any vehicle?

Actually, it’s not possible. You can’t do it. Therefore, you must check whether the rack is compatible with your vehicle. Otherwise, your money will be wasted. So, be careful about that.

Wrapping Up

So, what’s your take on the article? Did you gain enough knowledge? I’ve tried my best to share my experience in a sophisticated manner. Moreover, I assure you that you can complete the task by following my instructions. However, if you still lack confidence, you can seek professional help.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Share the article with your close people if you find it useful. See ya again! Bye!

A seasoned writer with a passion for crafting engaging content. Whether it’s exploring the great outdoors, diving into automotive trends, or uncovering travel secrets, I’m here to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with you.