Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Technical info on the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix including do-it-yourself info

Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Postby 5lbsofswisscheese » Sat Jul 17, 2004 4:47 pm

This entire post (with pictures) can now be found at http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/roofrackremoval.html. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I had to disable hotlinking of images.

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
phillips screwdriver
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.

http://www.giantmosquito.com/v...1.jpg

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 ...

http://www.giantmosquito.com/v...2.jpg

... 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:

http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/plasticclip.jpg

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:

http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/roofrack1.jpg

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.

http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/roofrack2.jpg

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.

http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/racklesscar1.jpg
http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/racklesscar2.jpg

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(Goodbye to the old '03 Neptune GT! I'll always have the radio to remember it by.)

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby jedde » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:52 am

Hi 5lbs,
Thanks for posting the above. Your photos and step by step instructions gave me the confidence to "pull it off". My Pontiac serviceman told me I had to remove the interior header to get at the crossbars and I was about ready to get out the hacksaw and just cut off the crossbars.

I might suggest one small mod for the squeamish (like me) under your "step One":

After loosening the outside edge of the cap and freeing that front tab as you describe, I ran a rubber coated handle of a pliers along the top of the rack and about 2 inches into (under) the top of the cap and pried the cap off. No breakage.

Just thought this might help someone else.

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Mr. Poopypants » Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:36 pm

Nice post swiss! I wondered how people got the crossbars off, that answers the question. There have been posts about how to do it, but as far as I can remember, never pictures.

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Jaycie685 » Sat Sep 17, 2005 12:08 pm

This was very nice, descriptive and informative!

I would like to see more of these "how to's" with pictures for other projects!

I'm pretty sure there many other clueless Vibers, such as myself, who would otherwise have a hard time trying to figure out what to do!

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (Jaycie685)

Postby BOZACK » Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:18 pm

I would use this instruction to remove the crossbars from my Vibe but I have a 2005, no crossbars. But the instruction was well done.
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Postby zionzr2 » Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:26 pm

???STICKY???
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Flip-Side » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:32 am

About time someone got this done. Kudos.

If you really want a clean look, you should get the roof rail caps. RKsport has carbon fiber ones, and http://www.street-graffiti.com supposedly has some slightly different ones. I don't like the carbon fiber look of RKsport's, but you can always paint them. Here is the thread about them. http://forums.genvibe.com/zerothread?id=16016

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (Flip-Side)

Postby MadBill » Mon Sep 19, 2005 9:53 am

Excellent directions! One more minor refinement: JIC I ever want to put the crossbars back on, I greased those little yellow "Christmas trees" so they would slip out more easily next time...
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Postby 5lbsofswisscheese » Tue May 09, 2006 1:22 pm

Some months ago I had to disable hotlinking of images to my website because people kept stealing artwork of mine by hotlinking my pictures on their websites. It got so bad that more bandwidth was being used by my images on other peoples' MySpace pages than everything else combined. As a side effect the pictures can't be included here anymore, but I recreated the entire post in crude HTML, along with the images, on my website so people can still see it.

http://www.giantmosquito.com/vibe/roofrackremoval.html

2004 Fusion Vibe GT
Moon & Tunes, 6-CD changer, 17" Wheels, Power Package
35% tint
17"x7" Enkei 5+ wheels, 215/50/R17 Fuzion Zri tires

(Goodbye to the old '03 Neptune GT! I'll always have the radio to remember it by.)

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Postby psiu » Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:49 pm

Just removed my cross bars--it was an interesting process.

* Bought paint as a result
* Found out that acetone **MELTS** the black plastic used for the covers
* JB Qwik Weld was involved
* Hard to polish melted plastic back to glossy shine
* All of the above make for cheerful wife

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Re: Crossbars

Postby Stealth Vibe » Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:39 am

Greetings from a frigid Canadian winter!

My history will tell you I am a new member. Just bought a 07 Vibe after having a Matrix 4 years, so I'm new to roof racks. Found out afterwards that the roof rack does not have crossbars in this model.

Can anyone explain if I need crossbars? If you guys have them, why remove them? If I want/need crossbars, any of you want to sell yours, or tell me where to buy them (Please excuse my ignorance, I am new, but is there a For Sale section on this site?)
Tx.

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Re: Crossbars (Stealth Vibe)

Postby prathman » Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:12 am

"Can anyone explain if I need crossbars? If you guys have them, why remove them? If I want/need crossbars, any of you want to sell yours, or tell me where to buy them (Please excuse my ignorance, I am new, but is there a For Sale section on this site?)"

Whether you need them or not depends on what you want to carry on top of the roof. We moved a couch to Wisconsin so we needed to add some crossbars to our '06 Vibe which came without them. Choices for crossbars are to either get a set in the curved style that came standard on earlier Vibes or to get the square cross-section "Utility Bars" that are now offered as an accessory. The former looks more stylish, but the latter seemed more versatile since it takes standard accessories like bike and ski racks and can be easily removed when not in use. So we opted for the Utility Bar option for carrying the couch and future use with my kayaks. Crossbars add some wind noise and drag so I prefer to remove them when they're not needed.

And yes, there is a For Sale forum here and crossbars can be found there from time to time. Another good option is eBay, especially for the original style.

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Re: Crossbars (Stealth Vibe)

Postby keithvibe » Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:14 am

they stopped making them a standard option. You can purchace them from the dealer. If your handy you could modify a set of crossbars off of a bronco II.
I plan on going that route myself this summer.
FYI... there is a for sale section.
http://forums.genvibe.com/zeroforum?id=20
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Postby vibe04 » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:29 am

If your taking off the cross bars from a car that has the upper rear spoiler BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Gonzo » Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:53 am


Does anyone have to part numbers for the yellow clip and the drivers side cover. Both broke when removing. The other side wasn't much easier but it did not break.


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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (Gonzo)

Postby scherry2 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:11 am

the drivers rear cover is-> 88969762 this includes the yellow retainer

yellow retainer alone is->88970918.

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (scherry2)

Postby Raven » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:11 am

Quote, originally posted by scherry2 »

the drivers rear cover is-> 88969762 this includes the yellow retainer

yellow retainer alone is->88970918.

I'd check the local toyota dealer for a cheaper price.

Toyota Matrix does not have the roof rack and therefore Toyota would not stock the parts.

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (Raven)

Postby scherry2 » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:33 am

duh......

post above edited

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby blueGT03 » Sat May 24, 2008 1:48 am

I just used the guide to remove my crossbars and it was easy.
It only took me about 20 min. It looks great and I'm hoping the reduced drag will add a little mpg's! Hey, any little bit helps.

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (blueGT03)

Postby bull77 » Sat May 24, 2008 11:06 am

Quote, originally posted by blueGT03 »
I just used the guide to remove my crossbars and it was easy.
It only took me about 20 min. It looks great and I'm hoping the reduced drag will add a little mpg's! Hey, any little bit helps.

sweet --- i'm sure there'd be a buyer or two interested if you decide to sell them

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Postby shaeet » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:18 pm

booo..all of the links are dead
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Re: (shaeet)

Postby waveresponder » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:30 pm

boohoo
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Postby Giant Mosquito » Sun May 30, 2010 11:53 pm

Hi, this is the artist formerly known as 5lbsofswisscheese. Long story short, lost my job, lost my domain name, lost my old email address, lost my password. So I registered a new name. But I'm getting back on my feet; I'll see if I can find the original stuff and post it to my new website for y'all.
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Giant Mosquito » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:53 am

For those of you who wanted pictures, here they are in the original order of appearance:

Hope this helps!

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (Giant Mosquito)

Postby rockin_moroccan » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:13 pm

First of all, HUGE thanks for this article. Without it, I never would have attempted to remove the bars.

The full story: just bought another Vibe, this time a 2008, used of course. As you all know, cross bars don't come included since 2005. So, since our 2003 would no longer be used to carry the vacation cargo box, I swapped it from the 03 to the 08.

Lo and behold, it only took me about 1/2 an hour to do it. Luckily, the yellow plastic clip stayed in place in the plastic covers all four times, and no Vibe paint jobs were harmed by a screwdriver during the operation.

Thanks again!

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (5lbsofswisscheese)

Postby Scotty » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:24 am

Thanks SO MUCH for this in-depth, informative article! I recently traded in my '03 Vibe for a new car, but my wife has an '06 and I wanted to transfer the roof rails to her car. This article helped me do it successfully! My steps included:

1) release the tab at the front of each cap (quite easy).
2) Insert a long slotted screwdriver to the top of each cap and pound on the screwdriver handle with my palm to pop the cap off (worried about breaking it, but not a problem).
3) In each case (remove rails from mine, transfer to hers) the yellow tab stayed in the cap for one, but on the car for the other. I used two small slotted screwdrivers to pry the yellow tab out and re-insert it into the cap; again, no problem.

After this, and removal of the small screws in the racks themselves, the actual transfer was a breeze. The caps popped right back on, the plastic tab slid easily back into place, and I was all set. Took about 15 minutes. So again: thanks!!

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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Postby daniel4888 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:52 pm

will this leak if i put the screws back in
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Postby cptnsolo77 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:50 am

Just removed the roof rails yesterday. Very straightforward & the car looks much better. Heres a tip....before I snapped the caps back on, I superglued the yellow clips into the cap. That way if I have to remove them for any reason again, the caps will pop off with the yellow clips INSIDE the cap. One of the yellow clips stood inside the rack assembly & so I had to pry it out with a mini flathead screwdriver. No biggie though !
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies now in HD

Postby Derf » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:45 am

Thanks for the tips. Created a video using the above items, with additional items discovered along the way. Unfortunately as the plastic ages, removal becomes a bigger challenge. Cracked the extremely thin plastic mounts holding the yellow plastic keeper. Found a nice wasp next under the passenger side cap (fortunately is was not occupied). Was disappointed to see the rear most screws holding the roof rail brace developing rust. For those living in the rust belt, this may be an issue to address before you start getting rust streaks down the side of your car.
Odd note, I see YouTube changed their domain name to from .com to .be

Roof rail cap and crossbar installation or removal.
http://youtu.be/yNfR77ZVzOs
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Postby KITT222 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Very nice how-to derf/fred (oh, I get it!). I knew there's a reason I subscribed to your channel! So what accessories are you adding so you needed the rack? Those lights look interesting... I've though about adding some driving lights to the cross bars I have in my possession (not from my Vibe, actually, they were from a Vibe I pulled parts from) then mounting them, but keep figuring that aftermarket bars might work better, especially since I have the top-mount spoiler.
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Re: Roof Rack Removal for Dummies (an illustrated guide)

Postby Derf » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:00 pm

Oh No... Witness protection failed.
Was a busy fall, just finishing up Vibe items I started in August. To say the least, the car will glow when the planned modifications are done. Testing how many LED's can you fit in a Vibe...
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