Expert Tips: How to Use Crossbars on Your Subaru Outback for Easy and Secure Gear Transportation

As an adventurous Subaru Outback owner, you already know the importance of having a reliable vehicle that can take you on all your outdoor expeditions. However, if you haven’t yet added crossbars to your Outback, you may be missing out on an essential feature that can greatly enhance your driving experience.

Crossbars, in combination with a roof rack system, can provide you with the means to safely and securely transport your outdoor gear and equipment on top of your Subaru Outback. With our expert tips, you can learn how to install and use crossbars like a pro and optimize your car’s versatility.

What are Crossbars?

Crossbars, also known as roof bars or load bars, are horizontal bars that attach to the roof of your Subaru Outback. These crossbars create a foundation for you to attach additional racks or carriers, and transport large or bulky items safely. Crossbars are essential if you want to carry kayaks, bikes, skis, surfboards, rooftop tents or any other outdoor equipment on your vehicle’s roof.

Why Use Crossbars?

By using crossbars on your Subaru Outback, you gain additional space to carry more gear. This leaves more room inside the car for passengers or smaller and fragile pieces of luggage. It also allows for better organization of your outdoor equipment, which in turn makes loading and unloading easier. Additionally, using crossbars prevents your gear from being damaged or scratched by the car’s roof surface during transportation.

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How to Install Crossbars on Your Subaru Outback?

The good news is that the installation of crossbars on a Subaru Outback is straightforward and easy, and can be done in a few minutes once you get the hang of it. Here are the steps to install crossbars:

  1. First, determine if your Subaru Outback requires factory-installed or aftermarket crossbars. Factory-installed crossbars are a standard feature for 2010 and later Outback models and can be easily identified by their integrated and fixed appearance. If your vehicle is an older model, you may need to purchase aftermarket crossbars that are suitable for your car’s year and model.

  2. Locate the mounting points on your car’s roof. They’re usually located under some covers or flaps on the roof rails. Take off these covers, and you’ll notice threaded holes for mounting the crossbars.

  3. Attach the crossbars to the mounting points by sliding them into the holes. Once you’ve aligned them to your preferred width, secure them in place using the mounting hardware included with the crossbars.

  4. Tighten the bolts and screws to ensure that the crossbars are firmly attached to the vehicle’s roof rails. Don’t overtighten, or you might risk damaging the crossbars or your car’s roof.

How to Properly Load and Secure Cargo on Crossbars?

After installing your crossbars, it’s important to know how to load and secure your gear correctly. This ensures that the gear is secure and doesn’t get damaged during transportation. Here are some steps to help you load and secure your cargo:

  1. Always check the weight limit for the crossbars and ensure that you don’t put too much weight on them. Overloading the roof may destabilize the car and pose a safety hazard.

  2. Use appropriate straps and tie-downs to secure the gear to the crossbars. You can use ratchet straps, cam straps, or bungee cords depending on the kind of gear you want to transport. A rope or string may not be recommended because they can’t withstand the pressure generated when the car is moving.

  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the cargo carrier or bike rack. Always check the rack for looseness before starting your journey.

  4. Check the gear periodically during your journey to ensure that it’s still secure since vibrations and wind can loosen the straps.

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Safety Considerations for Using Crossbars?

When using crossbars on your Subaru Outback, it’s essential to be mindful of safety considerations to avoid accidents and maintain your vehicle’s lifespan. Here are some safety tips to note:

  1. Check the roof clearance before entering buildings, garages, and drive-throughs. Some outdoor equipment like kayaks and bikes may add height to your car, which may not fit in low-clearance parking lots. Make sure you have room before driving in.

  2. Keep an eye on the gear while driving. Strong winds, curves, and sudden braking or acceleration can cause the equipment to shift or fly off the car. Make sure you’ve adequately secured all gear and accessories on the crossbars.

  3. Use appropriate signals to indicate that you’re carrying gear, especially when merging into traffic or switching lanes.

  4. Remove the crossbars when not in use. Driving with both the crossbars and the rack system may cause wind noise and a drop in fuel economy.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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