tell me i can’t do it … we’ll see


part of what i need from a vehicle is the ability to transport my canoe. i like to fish and for most of the year that involves moving a canoe from spot to spot. this means that i need a roof rack and any car i use significantly. i bought one for my 626 and it has been sitting around since the 626 was sold for scrap. i recently started contacting thule to determine how to make this rack (which i loved using on my 626) fit fred the sentra. you see the roof rack is meant for a 4 door car and fred is a 2 door coupe. thule has a short roof adapter (sra) that is supposed to make it possible to use the the roof rack on a coupe but thule’s website says it won’t work with my roof rack because of the feet i have. i have the 480xtr feet. these were the higher end rack feet when i bought the rack but they have since released new model feet.

those of you who know me might be surprised that i bought the higher end foot pack but at the time they were actually cheaper than the lower end feet. why? well i bought a refurbished roof rack. don’t ask me how you refurbish a roof rack. i have no idea. all i know is that it was significantly less expensive than the lower end foot pack and they have worked great for three years.

so i contacted thule through their support website to ask if it was possible to make the sra work with the 480xtr feet. i received no response. i sent another request for information. again, there was no response. i sent a third request and this time i was told that the sra sure would work if i bought new feet. of course the answer completely ignored my real request so i sent a final request and was told that i should call an unlisted customer support phone number. i called, was placed on hold for 10 minutes, and then told by recording that office hours had ended. i called again the next day and was told by a rep that he wasn’t really sure why but his forms said the sra wouldn’t work with the 480xtr feet and asked if there was anything else he could help with.

this just didn’t seem right. i looked at the sra and my rack feet and The rack foot with the plastic coveri was sure they would work together or at least that i could make them work together. so i found a used short roof adapter on ebay for $40 and ordered it assuming that if it didn’t work i could resell it and get at least $40 back. here’s what i discovered. the only thing that keeps the sra from working with the 480xtr feet is the plastic cover of the xtr feet. this plastic cover is purely IMG_2114aesthetic (pictured right). i can’t believe that this plastic cover does anything for the operation or structural integrity of the 480xtr feet. the short roof adapter works by small hooks fitting into each foot (pictured left). these hooks are pull into the feet by a center “fit kit” holding onto the back edge of the door frame. the plastic hood of the xtr foot blocks the hook from being able to grab a hold of the foot. removing the plastic hood from the 480xtr feet enabled me to use the sra just as it was meant to be used. without the plastic hood the hooks fit perfectly. i installed the rack and everything works perfectly.

surely thule knows this. i can’t believe they wouldn’t tell me such a simple fix. removing the plastic hood doesn’t appear to change anything about the structural integrity or operation of the rack foot. it ticks me off that their support’s advice was simply to buy new feet. my rack works on fred for $40 plus $15 for a used sentra fit kit off ebay. thule’s advice would have cost me $360 (new feet, new short roof adapter, and new fit kit) just to enable me to use the roof rack that i bought from them 3 years ago.

the next step for the roof rack is taking a dremel to the plastic hood to make room for the sra’s hook. then i’ll have the pleasing look of the smooth hoods on my rack feet again. this will make me even more happy.

next step for fred is working on the the exhaust system. there is a front exhaust pipe that needs to be patched or replaced. btw does anyone know how to weld? i’ll need some welding to fix the rusted out body sections at each rear wheel well.

before  after

3 Replies to “tell me i can’t do it … we’ll see”

  1. I was flagged by management here at Thule about your Twitter post. I followed the links from your profile to this blog. I have read the situation that you were trying to resolve. First, allow me to apolgize for the difficulty you experienced just connecting with a Customer Service Representative. That is not stardard operation.

    On to the actual installation problems. In defense of representatives at Thule, we can only advise consumers and dealers to use the products called out by the engineers based on intensive testing. Product can only be tested in the configuration that it is packaged so 400XT/400XTR Feet are not tested without the covers installed. Also, in testing the engineers found that installing the flat hooks of the SRA was not always easy to achieve on the 400XTR. Ease of use is one of the factors included in our testing procedures. In the case of the combination of the 400XTR and the 477 Short Roof Adapter, across the board, it was determined that this parameter was not met. Consequently, all Thule Fit Information that lists both Aerobars/Aeroblades and ‘square’ Load Bars, a 477 is noted it is only for the fit with Load Bars and the 400XT not with AeroBars/Aeroblades and the 400XTR.

    At Thule it is our mission to design and test fits that are the safest, most secure installations that do not damage a vehicle. This is for all systems, roof and rear mount. For that reason neither Thule employees nor our dealers can offer any modification of the requirements stated in the Fit Guide. By following this rule, the end consumer is assured that their Thule will be fully covered under warranty. Any Thule owner who has installed the products we specify for their vehicle, following the instructions that are provided with these products, can trust that the Rack System will function as stated. If the product does not and a defect is determined Thule will replace parts or product under that warranty. However, modifications to the products voids that warranty.

    Again our apologies that we could not approve the configuration of your rack that had hoped for. Understand it is for your safety, that of your vehicle, your property and other travelers on highways that Thule maintains a high standard regarding the use of our products. Thank you.

    1. kathy, thanks for the response. i really appreciate it. it restores some of my good feelings for thule. for liability reasons i completely understand that you can’t advise customers to modify our racks but is “remove the plastic cover and it will fit” really a modification? again thanks for the response. at this point that means a lot and will affect me buying thule products in the future.

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