Biketoworkday is supported by its audience. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Put a Bike Rack on a Car? – A Detailed Guide

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to put a bike rack on a car

Going on a road trip is one of the most freeing experiences you can have. You have the freedom to travel anywhere you want and bring whatever fits in your car trunk. It can be more enjoyable if you have the option to bring a bicycle with you.

This is the reason why bike racks are invented, so you can tag them along during your trip. However, if you do not have the right knowledge on how to put a bike rack on a car, it could damage both the vehicle and your precious bike.

So, we have come up with this guide to help you install a bicycle rack on your car. These are easy-to-follow steps suitable for any type of bike. This includes choosing the right rack for your car, checking the user’s manual, and installing the rack with hooks and straps.

For the complete process, read this guide provided for you.

Why are Bike Racks Important?

Bike racks are one of the best accessories you can buy for your cars. They are helpful when transporting your bicycles from one place to another. It can hold your bike in a secure manner. They will also protect your bicycles from transport damages.

More than that, here are several benefits of getting a bike rack for your car:

Free up car space

Bicycles are bulky items that can take so much space in your car trunk. If you are embarking on a road trip, you will need to load basic items, such as food, clothing, camping tents, and other essentials in the trunk.

If you use your trunk to put your bike, you will run out of space to store other traveling needs. With the use of a bike rack, you will be able to free a lot of space in the trunk. As a result, you won’t be worrying about not having enough space for your belongings.

Protect your bike from transport damages

If you want to secure your bike and avoid scratches or damages from transporting it, you will need a good-quality bike rack. This accessory is important because it can hold your bicycle in a safe and secure way. Bike racks are intentionally created to give maximum protection to your bicycles.

They will prevent your bicycles from moving when on the road and keep the bike from swaying side to side, which may result in scratches and transport damages. Simply put, the bike rack can provide stability to your bike during road travel.

Provide better bike visibility

When you are on the road and focused on driving, a rack can provide better visibility on your bike. You can check your bike from time to time. You can just look in the car mirror and monitor your bike. In this way, you will be able to check whether your bike is being stolen or is falling off.

Putting a Bike Rack on a Car


Getting a bike rack should not only be your major concern when securing your bike. It is also vital that you know how to install a bicycle rack on your car, or on SUV successfully. If the bike rack is not properly installed, it can potentially damage both your car and the bike.

Thus, here are the helpful steps to ensure that your bike rack is installed correctly on your car:

1. Choose the right bike rack

Selecting the right bike rack for your car is very important. The compatibility and fit of the bike rack can provide stability and maximum security for your bicycle. You should consider the type of car you have and the size of rack it needs.

To be able to do this, you should have the measurement of the boot or tailgate of the car. Then, ask the bike shop or store which kind of bike rack is ideal for your car. Here are the most widely used racks for cars:

  • Hitch racks – if you have a trailer hitch on your car, getting the hitch rack model is ideal. This type can carry a heavy load and can easily adjust to different types of weight. Ensure that the rack you choose is compatible with the size of your trailer hitch. The hitch-mounted rack is normally attached to the bottom part of your car. A bolt is needed when installing this kind of rack.
  • Roof racks – the roof bike rack is the most common type of bike rack. It is important that your car model has crossbars on the roof for the installation process. With this type of bike rack, the line of vision for your vehicle will not be obscured. Some racks can block the line of sight when you use rear view mirrors. However, it can potentially expose your bicycles to unwanted elements such as bugs.
  • Trunk racks – the trunk model is a standard model used for cars. It is not difficult to attach and lets you take the rack on and off. In case you do not need a rack, you can easily remove a trunk rack from your car.

2. Installing the bike rack

After choosing the right bike racks you need for your car, you can follow this step-by-step process:

(Pro tip: Before anything else, it is essential to consider the bike user’s manual before installation. Bike racks have an instruction manual to help you set the device up on your car. It is important to read the manual first to get the specifics)

  • Hitch Racks


If you are using the bike hitch rack, you should first measure the size of your hitch. Most of the time, the hitch racks have an adapter for a 2-inch hitch receiver. If your car hitch does not have this size, you can remove the adapter to make the car hitch compatible with your bike rack.

Then, you can remove the cap on the hitch and lift the hitch rack next. This time, you should slide the rack into the hitch receiver and use bolts and lock washers for a more secure installation.

  • Roof racks


If you prefer using a roof rack, it is important that your vehicle has factory-setup side rails, including the crossbars. Check whether the vehicle has mounting points on the roof as well. Once you are sure that these are present in your car, get a bike mount attachment next.

Then, measure the distance between the crossbars against the size of your rack. To do this, you should hook a retractable measuring tape on the edge of the crossbar, and pull it to the other side. In this way, you will be able to determine the distance of the crossbars.

Once you get the measurement, fit your bike rack accordingly. You can hook the bike rack across each of the crossbars and a step ladder during the installation. Lay the bike rack on top of the crossbars and make sure that the front rack is in line with the front crossbar while the back of the rack is attached to the back area of the bar.

After flattening the bike rack on the crossbar, use the strap to secure the installation.

  • Trunk mounted racks


Truck rack models are the simplest type to install and remove from your car. A trunk-mounted rack gives you an option to take it on and off depending on when you need it.

When installing a bike rack on a car, you should first lay the rack flat on the ground and separate the straps that come with it. Ensure that each strap corresponds to a specific part of the rack.

Then, you should open your car trunk a little so you can put the straps on and hook it in place. It is important that the hook slides between the top of the car trunk and under the rear window. Then, you can close the trunk and tighten the straps attached to the trunk.

3. Add double security

For a more secure attachment, you can use extra straps for double security. Lash your bicycle with these straps for more protection. Just mount the bike tube above the rack using the additional straps. You should also immobilize the wheel so it will not spin when you are driving.

4. Check how stable your rack is

Once you add more security and strap, it is important to check the stability of the attachment. To do this, you can jolt the rack in every direction. Just grip the frame with your two hands and shake the rack. If the rack moves along the car’s side, it is certain that you installed the bike rack properly.


Bike racks are dependable if you love going on a road trip and bike afterwards. With this device, you can tag your bike along without taking a lot of space in your car. When you install a bike rack on a car, you are sure that your bicycle is secured and protected.

May this guide on how to put a bike rack on a car help you put your bike rack on your car. Whether you are using a hitch bike, roof-mounted, or trunk rack, we provided the specific steps for you.

5/5 - (3 votes)