How To Remove Roof Rack Cross Bars

Last Updated on February 4, 2023 by Will Sabel

Voyagers on four wheels prefer cars that can carry extra items. A vehicle with roof rack cross bars can be a lifesaver. Models like Sequoia, Ford Expedition, RAV4 and the majority of SUVs come with roof rails or cross bars fitted on them. 

This particular fitting is handy for carrying extra loads on top of your 4-wheeler. When not in use, we prefer you dismantle the racks from the top because leaving them on top will increase the aerodynamic drag force. 

So how to remove roof rack cross bars from your vehicle? Below we will discuss the procedure to help you out. 

roof rack cross bars on kia sorneto

What Is The Purpose Of Roof Rack Cross Bars?

A roof rack is an external extension on the roof of your car. These are rails that come with a base and cross bars fitted on them to tightly hold and accommodate extra items such as snowboards, bicycles, kayaks, luggage, etc on top of your vehicle.

Do All Cars Have Roof Rack Cross Bars?

No! Roof racks are suited for adventure-seeking riders, thus this can be found on most SUVs. Even if you don’t have one pre-installed, you can opt to attach one to your vehicle if it has a supporting capability. 

Check for the internal mounts on your vehicle. If there are mounts then the car can accommodate roof racks, otherwise not. 

How To Remove Roof Rack Cross Bars – Step By Step Guide

Roof racks are kinda critical and mostly pre-installed by the manufacturer. The setting might seem easy but it’s not a cakewalk. You need proper knowledge to successfully dismantle the racks and crossbars from it. Let’s see the best possible ways to unwind the racks and crossbars. 

Step 1: Start By Examining Your Car Roof

To kick off, you have to keep your car standing still. Take a tool if you can’t reach the top of your car. Stand on it and check for any abnormalities. Look for things like whether your car has cross bars or just the side rails. You might want to remove just the crossbars or the total thing.

Step 2: Adjusting The Cross Bars

Those who just want to move the bars, do not need to unearth the rails from the side. You can easily loosen the screws on each side of the cross bars and allow it to slide and re-screw it to a position of your choice. 

Step 3: Removing Rail Leg Cover

First, you will have to start by dismantling the leg covers from the rails. They are easy to unearth and you can do it by pulling the plastic end. Some cars have tougher fittings so you will need a flat screwdriver to force it out of position.

Step 4: Slide Out The Rail End From Both Sides

With the cover now open, you will have to unscrew the leg and slide it out of its main position, only then you can take out the crossbars with ease. To do this effectively, you will need to look for the T bolts, fasteners and Phillips bits. If you locate such installations, remove them and then pull the legs out of the grounding. 

Step 5: Take Out The Cross Bars

As we are learning just to remove the cross bars, this is the last step to follow. Once the rail ends are taken out as we mentioned in steps 4 and 5, the bars should be easily removable by pushing them out of the rail track. 

For new roof crossbar installation, follow the removal steps above and then you can easily put back the new bars and lock them into position. Don’t forget to re-install the legs. 

Working With Different Settings

For a change, if you drive a vehicle with roof installation like the 2019 RAV4, then the removal process is fairly easier. All you have to do is unroot the two lined-up bars on both ends from the rail and you are good to go. Let’s simplify the process for you. 

Step 1: Take Out The Side Flare Covers

First and foremost you have to unlock the aerodynamic flares on the sides. Then use your hand to pull off the plastic cover. 

Step 2: Unscrew The Bolts

The roof rack is cemented in place with tight bolts and you have to remove these bolts from each side of the frame. Use a socket wrench to slowly unwind the bolts. 

Step 3: Final Process

With the bolts and washers unwinded, just pull the rails with your hand and it should come out without hassle. Simply put the external pieces (screws, washers, etc) that you just took out and place them in a bag so that the next time you install it back, you won’t fall short of anything. 

After the complete removal of the racks, you must cover up the left-out holes and slots on the rails.


As helpful as it is, roof racks can also be a problem in many circumstances. For example, if you are not carrying any heavy items on top of the car, the added load and shape of the racks will hinder the performance of your car. 

So, those who have been asking how to remove roof rack cross bars from a vehicle, now know the answer through this article. It is not the easiest procedure, but not impossible either. 

Just be patient, grab the necessary tools and start working as we mentioned above. In no time you will end up with a vehicle without the additional weight on top.   

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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