How to Remove Yakima Roof Rack?

Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Will Sabel

So, you want to take your vehicle for a nice bath but can’t remove the roof rack? Unfortunately, most e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay don’t provide any instruction videos on how to remove Yakima roof rack. But you don’t need to worry about that cause I’ve got your back.

Before removing the rack, you must know the various parts of the device, such as crossbars, Q towers, Swing bolts, Q tip, etc. Crossbars are the two metal bars that run parallel on your roof. Q towers are the four conical clamps that attach to your door jamb.

Refer to the Yakima user manual to learn about such parts of your roof rack first. Then proceed to follow the steps I’m providing in this guide. Got your hands on the manual? Let’s dive right in.

yakima roof rack removal

A Step-By-Step Guide to Removing the Yakima Roof Rack

As you might know, Yakima has a wide line of roof racks of various styles. Hence, the process of removing a Yakima roof rack isn’t the same for all of them.

However, this step-by-step guide will work for most Yakima roof rack systems, including SkyLine, FlushBar, RidgeLine, BaseLine, and TimberLine. Here’s how to take off a Yakima roof rack-

Step One – Gather Necessary Tools

Of course, you need to collect the required tools first to smoothly complete the process. Luckily, no power tools are required to complete the removal process. Some of these tools come with a roof rack. Here’s what you’ll need-

  • Torque tool (Included in the roof rack package)
  • Allen key or Wrench (If the torque tool is missing)
  • Lock picking set (Optional)
  • Flat head screwdriver (Optional)
  • Ladder (Optional)

Step Two – Unlock the Q Tower

A typical Yakima roof rack is clamped on your car roof with the help of four Q towers. You have to remove all of them to release the crossbars.

Yakima uses a simple lock system to make dismounting the rack easy for users. You need to use the provided key to unlock the Q towers. So, select one Q tower at a time and use the given key for all four towers.

Use a sturdy ladder if your car roof is too high and take help from a friend if necessary. If the keyhole is placed in a horizontal position, it means the Q tower is locked. Insert the key and twist a bit to place the keyhole in a vertical position and unlock it.

Step Three – Remove Key Cover

Now, you’ll notice two pinch points on the sides of the key cover. Pinch them with a little pressure, and the key cover should easily come off. Once the inner parts are exposed, you need to find the access door or a little tab covering the bolts and nuts.

The tab is easily identified as a protrusion from the tower’s main assembly. When you pull it down, it should expose a small hexagonal bolt going into the interior.

Step Four – Take Off the Bolts

Some Yakima roof racks feature multiple Swing bolts instead of one. Whatever the case is, you have to remove them all anyway. Use the torque tool provided by Yakima to loosen the bolt.

Keep in mind that the bolt is pretty long, and you have to turn it around 100 times or more to completely take it off. Once you have unthreaded the swing bolt, take it off and proceed to the next step.

Step Five – Pull Off the Access Door

Hold the access door or tab and put a little pressure downwards. As the bolt is removed, it should easily come off the bracket mounts. Now you should be able to lift the crossbars from the Q tower.

Follow the same process for all four towers and take off the crossbars to detach the Yakima roof rack from your car. Don’t forget to store the roof rack in a safe and dry place for later use.

How to Unlock Yakima Towers Without Key?

It’s not possible to remove the roof racks without the Q tower key. You can either use a little trick to unlock the towers or get a new key from your nearby Yakima store. Here’s what you can do in case your key is missing-

Unlock Manually

For this trick, you need a screwdriver and lock picking set. Choose the proper tool from the set that easily goes into the lock. 

Use your right hand to insert the flathead screwdriver and keep putting pressure in a counterclockwise direction.

Hold and insert the tool head using your left hand. Push the pins inside the key and jiggle them up and down. Continue spinning the screwdriver until the keyhole reaches a vertical position.

This way, you can easily unlock the Q tower and remove the roof rack.

Purchase New Key

If you want to buy a new key, you must first know which one is the right one for your vehicle. For this, you have to remove the key core, and there you’ll find a code. You can easily remove the core using the Yakima control key provided with the roof rack.

You can also purchase it from any Yakima store or specific Amazon store. Simply insert the key into the keyhole and jiggle it side to side to easily remove the core. Take the key core or the code to a Yakima store, and the service provider will tell you which key to choose.

Yakima Roof Rack Types

There are several types of Yakima roof racks, which can be categorized based on their components and the gear they are designed to carry. Each Yakima roof rack system is designed to cater to different vehicle types and user needs.


  • RoundBar – Features a traditional round design.
  • CoreBar – Offers a strong and aerodynamic rectangular design.
  • JetStream – Comes with a sleek, aerodynamic design for reduced wind noise and improved fuel efficiency.

Tower systems:

  • Q-Tower – Designed for vehicles with bare or naked roofs, utilizing clip-based attachments.
  • BaseLine – Adjustable towers for naked roofs, providing a secure and custom fit for various vehicle shapes.
  • SkyLine – Compatible with Yakima’s StreamLine system. Designed for vehicles with fixed points or tracks.
  • TimberLine – Designed for vehicles with raised side rails. Offers a secure and easy-to-install system.

Specialty Racks:

  • Bike racks – Designed to transport bicycles on the roof. Available in various styles such as fork mount, wheel mount, and frame mount.
  • Kayak racks – Created for carrying kayaks, including options like J-cradles, stackers, and saddles.
  • Cargo boxes – Offer additional storage space for luggage, camping gear, or sports equipment. Available in various sizes and styles.

If you’re interested to know more about removing a roof rack without a key, Check this guide.

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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