Friday afternoon I decided to remove the crosspieces on my roof rack. Using the instructions from http://forums.genvibe.com/zerothread?id=5194 and the pictures from http://www.cardomain.com/memberpage/303649/3 I set about the task. I'd like to start off by saying I am not the handiest person in the world. I'm maybe a step above Red Green, but that's about all I could safely claim. It seems easy enough, but there are a few pitfalls that can get you if you're unlucky or not careful, especially if you don't have the practical experience to know better. I know a lot of you are more handy than I am, and if you are then this guide is probably uneccesary, but for the rest of us this is what I learned. Without further ado, here is a guide for the technically-challenged like myself on how to (and how not to) remove the cross-pieces on your Vibe's roof rack.
What you will need:
flat-head screwdriver or similar object
two rags, or a rag and some tape
a stool or stepladder
Step 1: Remove the plastic covers at the rear of your car. This can be real easy or it can be real hard. After reading about other people's experiences, I'm convinced it's just luck how easy it will be on your car. The driver's side one was a mighty struggle to remove, while the passenger side one popped right off.
Be sure to wrap your tool of choice (probably a flathead screwdriver) in tape or a rag or something to avoid scratching your paint if you slip. It also wouldn't hurt to lay a clean rag down over the paint itself. Also, do not use a magnetic screwdriver, no matter how tempting it may be. Your body panels are steel and your magnetized screwdriver is naturally attracted to them. It will even go through your paint just to be close to them. I'm planning on ordering some touch-up paint on monday.
First, pry up the outside edge of the plastic cover (the side away from the antenna). Once you get a good grip on it, carefully pull out the tab in the front (see the circle on the first picture). The plastic is flexible enough that you shouldn't damage it. Just don't put all your force in one location or you could snap it. Fortunately this did not happen.
A few notes about this. The yellow body clip that holds the part on is located in the center of the cover, where the X is. There is another tab on the inside, just beyond the edge of the rail on the near side. Pulling the front tab out will help keep this tab from catching while you remove this panel. See the second image for the location of this tab.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the panels popped right off without any fuss. The other one was a lot more work. I tried dmitri's technique (see the link at the top) to no avail. Eventually good old brute force won out, and the piece came off. However, there was a complication.
Remember that yellow body clip that holds on the panel? It is supposed to stay on the panel, and not on your car. If the piece looks like this after you've removed it ...
... you have a bit of a headache ahead of you. That yellow plastic clip will have to be removed and placed on the cover where it belongs before you can put your car back together. If you're lucky then you won't even have to go back to the dealer for another one. If this didn't happen to you then you can go on to step 2.
If your car does look like this, you will need to pry up the clip. I was told after the fact that there is a specialized tool for removing body clips. If you don't have it you can try what I ended up doing. This can be a lot of work, as that clip is a lot stronger than it looks. I ended up using a screwdriver to pry it partway up, then I put the screwdriver through the hole in the side, visible in this picture:
Then, I pried the damn thing loose. It's probably not the smartest way to do it but it worked for me without breaking anything.
After you get the clip out (assuming you don't break it in the process), put it back in the cover. The top and middle rings slide into the mount on the cover. Set it aside until you are ready to reassemble.
Step 2: After you have removed both rear covers, remove the antenna by unscrewing it. Set it aside with all your other parts. You can do this first if you really want to, it doesn't matter. This step is so easy I'm not going to provide a picture of it.
Step 3: Make sure your rear hatch is closed. Using a phillips screwdriver, remove the retaining screws that keep the cross-pieces from coming all the way out. It is located about here:
Step 4: Loosen all 4 bolts holding the rear cross-piece in place. Don't loosen them too much, or the metal plates that push against the rail to hold the cross-piece in place will come out when you remove it. If one of those metal pieces does come out, slip it back in as shown, and tighten the bolt through it so it won't come out.
Standing behind the car on a stepstool, pull the crosspiece back using even pressure on both sides. If you pull just one side you won't get very far. It will catch on the antenna mount, but the roof is flexible enough that it won't be a problem. Just pull it across it, and out the back of the rail. Oh, and watch your balance. Repeat for the front rail. Set them aside for later storage. Under the bed is a good, safe place for them.
Step 5: Replace the rest of the parts you just took off. Screw back in the retaining screws (I know they're not holding anything in anymore, but they won't get lost this way), screw back in the antenna, and replace the rear covers. The easiest way to put the rear covers back on is to insert the front tab first, then, making sure it is lined up properly, press down on the cover until it snaps back into place. (If you were unluck enough to have broken something taking it off then obviously this isn't going to work. Go see your Pontiac dealer.) If it goes down outside the rubber trim, then raise the rear hatch, and pull the trim into place starting from the inside of the car. After this, sit back and enjoy your car's new look. Maybe take a few pictures or something.