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Installing the official Tesla model 3 roof rack

Discussion in 'Model 3: Interior & Exterior' started by cantdecide, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. cantdecide

    cantdecide Member

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    Boulder, CO
    I just completed installation of our model 3 roof rack. There are several difficult parts so I feel the installation issues deserve their own thread.

    tl:dr; This is a difficult installation, for us about 10x as difficult as installing the official model S roof racks. I suspect the main culprit is inconsistent fit/finish and tolerances for model 3 production making some critical measurements significantly different than from whatever example of the model 3 was being used to design the roof racks. It also may not have helped that the temperature outside was well below freezing outside (although it was +7C in the garage)

    If it weren't for the issues I encountered the install would have taken about 10 minutes. However with the problems encountered it overall took over an hour.

    1) Unboxing
    Nice looking box. Unboxing was fine. The installation manual was as per the one online posted a few days ago:
    https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/downloads/model-3-roof-rack-owners-manual-en-us.pdf

    [​IMG]

    2) Looking at the parts... First major issue...
    The parts themselves were fairly obvious and reasonably well labelled. Obviously some thought was put into this
    Unfortunately one of the parts in the bag was broken... the clip tool. Sometime after the tool was put in the bag and before it arrived at our home it broke. Fortunately I found I could carefully use it backwards and it still worked.

    Well labeled parts:
    [​IMG]

    Broken clip tool:
    [​IMG]

    3) Finding the arrows and cleaning the roof.
    The arrows can be a little difficult to spot. They are a few cm from the joins in the roof itself. Shining a light at an appropriate angle makes them easier to spot. You can see them in this photo due to the reflected fluorescent light.

    [​IMG]

    4) Installing the abrasive stickers and clips wasn't too bad, even with the broken tool. Even in place they are still a little loose.
    The abrasive stickers tend to get bubbles underneath. I took a couple of the stickers off and on a couple of times, they were still sticky. Once the roof rack is on that will also hold them down so I don't think they need to be very sticky to function.
    I minimized the bubbles by stretching out the stickers, but there were still bubbles.
    You may note in the photo below that the glass panel is significantly lower than the metal frame of the car, which may have contributed to later issues...

    [​IMG]

    5) Adding the side pads was also easy... just make sure to get them right way up and on the right spot.
    [​IMG]

    6) Removing the crossbar covers sounds so simple, and 2 of them were easy, but two of them required a screwdriver to remove. The way you are supposed to do it is to insert your finger into the rubber area on the photo below and pull back while using your other hand to pull at the sides. My fingers were not strong enough to budge it, particularly as the fit is so tight. Likely the actual roof rack was below freezing having been on the truck well below freezing for a day or two. Ultimately a screwdriver where my finger was supposed to be added enough leverage to open it. I was being very careful to follow the instructions and not overstress it, so getting these covers off ultimately took about 20 minutes.

    Unfortunately having managed to get all 4 covers off the first time they are now all very loose. A minor bump sends them flying. I think I'll have to tape them on to give a reasonable chance of not losing them. The model S ones were much better. I'd like to hear if others find their much too loose?

    [​IMG]

    7) Next we encountered the biggest issue: the threads on the clips are simply not long enough. The photo below shows the clips with thread poking through the correct hole, and everything in place, but there is nowhere near enough thread for the nut to grab onto. There was nothing I could do to make the thread poke out further. If I push down really hard on the crossbar the thread would poke out maybe 1mm, nowhere near far enough to put the nut on:

    [​IMG]

    Two of the clips had just enough thread showing to grip after a couple of tries. However the third (in the photo above) was nowhere near it. After several tries of taking it all apart and putting it back together again I eventually swapped with another clip that was half a thread longer. I suspect the clip itself may also have been bent up a little to give me a bit more thread, and with a bunch of down force on the crossbar I eventually got enough thread that I could get pliers to grab and pull it up an extra 1mm, which was then enough to get the nut to grab.
    On my car the glass roof is probably half a cm lower than the metal frame, and assuming this is a production issue on my car meant there was much less thread on my car than there was supposed to be. I expect most others won't have this issue, but some may have it worse and be unable to install the roof rack as a result.
    Ultimately this step wasted about another 20 minutes for me.

    8) Tighten the nut to 8nm +- 1nm.
    This was a little scary... it is only a couple of turns of the nut to get to that torque level.
    Tighten too much and you break your glass.
    Don't and the entire roof rack is hanging on literally by 2 threads at each attachment point.

    Installation complete
    [​IMG]

    9) Install Yakima Skybox 21

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    About rack positioning and the skybox:
    * The crossbars are rather close to the glass, so be careful with the skybox not to drag the clips on the glass of the car.
    * The crossbars are close together and fairly far forward. I needed to significantly adjust the skybox attachments to get it to fit. However I was still able to center the box between the crossbars and it looks reasonably balanced and I think it looks ok on the car.

    Final thoughts for now:
    I am a little concerned that due to the design of the roofrack and the tolerances of the car that the roof rack is literally only held in place by 2 threads. I pulled it every way and it seemed ok, but aerodynamic forces are significant. For now I will trust that Tesla has it right. Tesla should adjust the roof rack design to better cope with the car tolerances and make installation easier. If Tesla wants to send out Nick from Tesla Mountain Service to assure me that my setup is safe I would welcome it.
     
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  2. Snow Drift

    Snow Drift Slip Start: [Activated]

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    Thank you! Hopefully v.2 will be better.
     
  3. Skione65

    Skione65 Active Member

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    @cantdecide,

    Very informative write up of your install. Well done! The tolerances seeem crazy tight with not much leeway. I echo your concerns with the thread depth and agree hopefully Tesla got it right....that the tolerances are sufficient and the rack is secure even under high aerodynamic loads.
    Let me know what this does to your range (including the Yakima box), range pre-install and post-install. I have the same box but the Thule version. Will this work with the Thule?
    Good Luck and enjoy the new rack and all your travels!

    Ski
     
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  4. cantdecide

    cantdecide Member

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    Thanks. For our S the box seemed to add about 50wh/m to the energy usage and I expect similar here (for the roof rack + box). We've driven the S with the box on top from California to Colorado, back to California and back to Colorado.
    Of course for the S that means about a 15% increase in energy consumption, whereas the same would correlate to about 20% increase in consumption on the 3.
    I think it will be difficult to judge the extra consumption in winter due to the cold weather having such a significant impact (as well as the snow tires) so it will be difficult to compare to another drive with the same conditions. Coming down from the mountains (without roof rack or precipitation) a few days ago resulted in about 20% more energy used than the Tesla expected.
     
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  5. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Active Member

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    It's basically the size of the glass panel above the driver.
    So the distance between the two bars will be 28 inches.
    And the distance between the two towers will be 50 inch at the front and 46 inches at the back.
     
  6. Daniel in SD

    Daniel in SD Well-Known Member

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    2 threads is not enough. You want at least as much engagement as the width of the bolt (e.g. 6mm bolt with 1mm thread pitch = 6 turns). You also might want to put some blue loctite on something this safety critical.
     
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  7. AlanSubie4Life

    AlanSubie4Life Efficiency Obsessed Member

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    I would email Tesla some pictures and ask them if they can provide longer clip bolts, or see if they have other suggestions.
     
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  8. ChrisP

    ChrisP Member

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    Thanks I do not have yet a model 3 so I could not measure it :)
     
  9. EVnut

    EVnut DARΞLL

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    Thank you for taking the time to post this with proper pictures and all. Much appreciated.

    My level of disappointment is quite high, as there really is no excuse for all the fiddly stuff that makes a ten minute job into an hour-long adventure in frustration. And I agree with the others: Two threads of engagement is not appropriate for this.

    I can't help buy wonder why so few of these have been available, and why they seem to be trickling out seemingly one sale at a time. Maybe this gives us a hint of why? Gah. This is just painful to see. At this price-point, there's zero excuse for this stuff. Not only did they offer no option for quick install (by having the option of leaving the landing pads in place), but they even managed to screw up making it the most simple way to manufacture (coupled with the most complicated to assemble each time). Damn. :-(
     
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  10. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Active Member

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    I will be very curious to see if the future Model Y will get an integrated roof rack,

    like many other SUV provide it?
    10 SUVs with Roof Racks

    Especially if the Model Y get a third raw seats,
    taking then most of the trunk available space.

    See: 2018 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid Limited AWD Sport Utility
    [​IMG]
     
  11. KootsChewt

    KootsChewt Member

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    Location:
    Nelson, BC
    I received and installed my rack yesterday and echo many of the OPs comments. In my case, the threads protruded somewhat further (at least than shown), and it took probably 5-6 half rotations to snug it down. I wonder if over time the "landing pads" will compress somewhat, allowing more threads to be engaged. They certainly could have made the bolt longer by 1/8" and it would not have impacted the ability to tighten the Allen head. Or they could dispense with the Allen head bolt and instead use a regular hex wrench fitting, which would allow a lot of threads on the inside. It is already a custom nut, so they just need to fabricate a new one, along with a longer J-bolt. If they did that, the rack would be super easy to take off and put on, and I think this is a fixable issue with different hardware.

    I posted a video of the whole process for people who like that medium. Cheers!

    Roof Rack!
     
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  12. justaute

    justaute Member

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    This seems to be Tesla's modus operandi -- poor execution, poor QA. It has a visionary leader, for sure, but he's also known to have poor management skills. Tesla is definitely an innovative company, but it leaves much to be desired as a manufacturer. After a few years of manufacturing, the company continues to struggle in many areas, IMO.


     
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  13. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Active Member

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    #13 NeverFollow, Dec 31, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
    Great video! Thank you for all the detailed tips and showing the nice help from your assistant!

    Looking at the ski box. it seems a little bit slanted toward the front and not perfectly horizontal., but may be this is just an impression

    And if so, I don't think that might really affects the mileage or provides too much additional pressure to the front.


    - The custom bolt should certainly be a little bit longer, but may be if so, it could then interfere with the Allen key?

    I hope that those custom brackets will be available separately, in case the thread get damaged.

    Yakima Tesla Model 3 Bracket .jpg

    However, those brackets provides a better solution than the Yakima BaseClip 173
    using the chrome cover, as show in a previous thread:

    Note: The chrome cover has an inverse up-side-down 'L' shape and is not very rigid.
    The bracket should grab the roof under the chrome cover,
    but this not possible because the chrome cover is glue to the roof.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. tlr1000

    tlr1000 Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to post the detailed write-up and pics.
     
  15. KootsChewt

    KootsChewt Member

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    Yes the box is slanted a bit down. On my first commute at highway speeds this AM it didn't seem to vibrate more than when it was previously installed on my Forester, so I don't think the slant changed that too much. I'm planning a more controlled test on mileage impact tomorrow - prelim number from today is somewhere between 15-20% increased consumption - it was hard to tell because it was colder today than on previous commutes, and the battery/interior was cold soaked, so I used more energy than usual to heat up the cabin.

    As far as the bolt length - right now the set-up uses an Allen key, which involves both the bolt threads and the wrench fitting on the inside of the nut (which was stupid IMO) - what they should switch to is having a hex head on the outside diameter of the nut, which would eliminate the interference with thread length. In fact, there is a lot of clearance inside the cover area that they could have the bolt sticking up out of the nut itself somewhat to easily account for variances in the roof bracket height vs glass roof vs metal roof. They could easily switch to manufacturing hardware like this, and ship it out to us early adopters as well.[/QUOTE]
     
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  16. justaute

    justaute Member

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    Nice work. Appreciate your sharing both the video and notes. That glass "noise" you heard can be a bit unsettling. :)


     
  17. EVnut

    EVnut DARΞLL

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    For several reasons, I ensure that the front bar of any roof rack is slightly lower than the rear. Exactly level would be best, but the adverse affect of having the hose of a box higher than the rear is far worse than having it lower. Put extra weight in the back of the car (cargo+people) and you can see how starting "level" on an empty car could be problematic. The last thing you want is "lift" of your cargo box at speed.

    [/quote]- The custom bolt should certainly be a little bit longer, but may be if so, it could then interfere with the Allen key?[/quote]
    It is a mistake to design the system with bolt/wrench interference like this. There are reasons to do this in some systems... but clearly this is not one of this instances.

    The product page says (or at least said the last time I looked) where to send an email for "spare parts." I hope this will include all parts for the rack!

    Yeah. There's nothing about this that I like. My next plan is to check with Thule.

    I'm in complete agreement! Though that only fixes the most glaring problem with the poor design. This would at least make the poor design acceptable to use.
     
  18. notAnExpert

    notAnExpert Member

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    Thank you. It was very useful.
     
  19. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Active Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  20. Dardy19d

    Dardy19d Member

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    I’m a little confused. What’s holding the clips onto the roof? Is it the glass or is there something else that the clip is supposed to clip onto?
     

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