How to Open Roof Rack Without Key?

Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by Will Sabel

Whether your car has a built-in roof rack or you have attached a new one, all types of roof racks require a key to lock and unlock. We usually don’t pay enough attention to the roof racks unless it is time to carry some heavy-weight items on them.

That’s why losing the key is quite common among car owners. So, if you are wondering what happens if you have lost the key and need to open the roof rack urgently, we are here to answer.

In this article, you will learn how to open roof rack without key. There are a few methods that you can try when you can’t find the roof rack key. To find out further, keep reading the article.

open roof rack without key

How to Open Roof Rack without Key?

When you have to perform a task unconventionally, you need to think outside the box. Here are a few ways that we find helpful to open the roof rack without keys. Let’s check them out.

Removing Roof Rack Using Lock Picking Tool

unlock with lock picking set

Using a lock-picking tool can be both easy and tricky. In most places, keeping a lock picking tool might be considered illegal. But as long as you are not breaking others’ locks, it won’t cause any trouble. 

This tool is quite accessible in the areas you live. You can find different types of lock-picking tools both online and in-store. Now let’s get into the procedure. You will need one lock picking tool and a small flat-head screwdriver to perform this method. 

  • Take the lock-picking tool in your left hand and the screwdriver in your right hand. 
  • Now, insert the lock picking tool into the keyhole and push the pins up and down constantly. 
  • While jiggling up and down, insert the screwdriver and put constant anti-clockwise pressure inside.
  • This constant pressure will help you rotate the keyhole horizontally. 
  • When your tool cracks the key, it will open immediately.

The time and effort to open the roof rack will depend on the type of lock. This method should work for all types of roof racks. However, some roof racks may have an extra security system that may take a little longer to unlock than the usual locks. 

Removing Rack Allen Keys

remove roof rack with allen key

There are quite a few models of roof racks that you can open with Allen keys. This process is quite simple and easy if you can find the Allen key screw and the right size of the Allen key. This method works best on clamp-mount system roof racks. 

  • Remove the upper and lower door seals carefully. 
  • Try to pop the sides of the cap to get access to the Allen key nut. The nut should be somewhere below the cap. 
  • After you have discovered where to insert your Allen key, carefully loosen the bolt with the help of a 4 mm Allen key. (Usually, a 4 mm Allen key is required for this job, but you can try with different sizes if needed.)
  • Now that you have loosened the bolt, unlatch and unhook the roof rack off of the car.
  • Attach the seals to your car’s doors, and your car is ready to drive without a roof rack. 

Removing Roof Racks with a Philips Head Screwdriver

Follow these simple steps to remove roof racks using a Philips head screwdriver:

  1. Find all screws attaching the mounts and crossbars to your vehicle.
  2. Use the Philips head screwdriver to unscrew them. Keep the screws safe for future reinstallation.
  3. Check for any extra screws in the towers, such as #6 or #8 screws, depending on the bracket style. Remove these as well.
  4. Apply some lubricant to help slide the mounts off more easily without excessive force.
  5. Carefully slide the towers off the mounts and set them aside. They can be heavy, so handle them with care.
  6. Inspect for any remaining bolts or clips still holding the roof rack in place.
  7. Lastly, remove the mounts from your vehicle.

Removing Roof Racks Using a Sledgehammer

A sledgehammer can be an unconventional but effective method for removing roof racks. Just follow these steps:

  1. Remove your car’s reel and lift the vehicle onto jack stands.
  2. Use a wrench to loosen the bolts holding the roof rack.
  3. Wear protective equipment to ensure safety.
  4. Secure the roof rack using clamps or rope to prevent unpredictable movement.
  5. Carefully use the sledgehammer to break the roof rack off.
  6. Check all areas where the roof rack was previously attached to confirm successful removal.

Using a sledgehammer can save you from purchasing specialized tools, but ensure you take safety precautions and handle the process with care.

Removing Roof Racks with a Chisel

  1. Use a hammer to extract the bolts from the roof rack. Place them next to the bolt heads for easy access during reinstallation.
  2. Pry off any firmly attached parts using a flathead screwdriver.
  3. Place the chisel into gaps between the metal components of the rack.
  4. Gently tap the chisel with a hammer until all pieces pop out completely.
  5. Repeat this process until all parts have been removed from your car’s roof.

Removing Roof Racks with Cable Ties

Dealing with roof racks held in place by cable ties? Don’t worry! Here’s an uncomplicated approach to removing them:

Option 1: Using cable tie cutters

  1. Get a pair of cable tie cutters.
  2. Trim away the excess length of each cable tie.
  3. Position the remaining cable tie between the cutter’s blades and snip it in half.
  4. Carefully remove any leftover pieces by pulling them away from your vehicle’s surface.

Option 2: Using a lighter

  1. Gently heat the end of the cable tie with a lighter, being cautious not to damage your car’s paint.
  2. Once warmed, peel off the cable tie, releasing the roof rack without causing harm.

Option 3: Using a hammer

  1. Lightly tap the cable tie with a hammer.
  2. Gently pull the cable tie off the rack.

Call a Locksmith

A locksmith has more experience than you in terms of unlocking locks without keys. So, if you think you find it difficult to open a roof rack without a key, it will be wiser to call a locksmith. 

A professional locksmith has all kinds of tools that you may not have seen before. He can pick the lock to open the roof rack without damaging the lock and get the code from the lock to make a fresh set of keys that you can use later. 

So, when in doubt, always take the help of a professional.

Ask the Manufacturer

If you still fail to open the roof rack, there will be no alternative to contacting the manufacturer. Although this process can be time-consuming, you can get access to your roof rack without causing any damage. 

Whether your car came with a factory roof rack or you have installed a removable one on your car, call the manufacturer of that product and tell them about your problem. Many keys have printed key codes on their bodies. So, you need to note down the codes and provide them to the manufacturer. 

However, if you haven’t noted down the codes and lost your key, then inform them beforehand. They will take care of the entire process of unlocking the roof rack and provide you with a new set of keys. 

This method is the safest as the producers already know the product details and have the best solution. So, if you want a damage-free solution, go with this one. 

Safety Tips To Remove Roof Racks without a Key

Here are some essential tips to ensure a secure removal process:

  1. Familiarize yourself with safety guidelines before starting the removal.
  2. Always be cautious and attentive during the process.
  3. There’s no need to remove roof racks for a car wash.
  4. Steer clear of removing roof racks on a sloped or inclined surface.
  5. Choose a dry day to remove the racks for an easier and safer process.
  6. Unload any cargo from the roof before attempting to remove the roof racks.
Safety tips for removing roof rack without key

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Roof Rack Keys Universal?

No, roof rack keys usually aren’t universal. Each key is specific to the manufacturer and model. When you buy a roof rack, the key comes with it. If lost, contact the manufacturer for a replacement. There’s no certainty that a key from one rack will fit another.

Are Roof Racks Easily Removable?

Roof rack removal depends on the type: permanent or temporary. Permanent racks are fixed to the vehicle’s roof and need tools for removal. Temporary racks allow quick installation and removal without tools. They attach to the door frame or window sill and can be removed in minutes.

Final Words

Now that you know how to take off roof racks without key, it won’t bother you if you have already lost your roof rack keys. Many people cause severe damage to the roof rack and sometimes even break them into pieces, as they don’t know these easy methods. 

When you have simple solutions, why take the hard way and cause more bad than good? Select the method that you find the most convenient and remove the roof rack all by yourself. 

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Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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