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Roof Rack Install and Disassembly


One can NOT induce accuracy with precision!
Mar 24, 2013
I can confidently assert it to be very easy, although I've never done it. The Whispbars mount via a knurled nut into the four female threaded holes about your pano roof. If you can assemble a piece of Ikea furniture, you can do this blindfolded.

Your post suggests you've never noticed those attachment points. They are under that +/- 3/4" x 2" hinged plastic piece. The hinges are on the inner side, so you can lift them up with your fingernail from the outer side, exposing that threaded hole.
One main concern I have is that I would like to remove the roof rack when not in use. How hard is it to install, remove and reinstall the roof rack?

I can confidently assert it to be very easy, although I've never done it...... If you can assemble a piece of Ikea furniture, you can do this blindfolded.

Ha, Whispbar designers are much more fiendish than Ikea designers! I hate to contradict my Alaskan friend but it took 90 minutes to install on my own. Having done it once I think it can be done in ~20-25 minutes as a one person job. Removal is more like a ~10-15 minute job. Here's several tips which should make it much easier for you than my first attempt:

The connectors that screw into the car roof fittings are extremely fiddly and you have to use the allen wrench at an angle. Orient them so that the tabs are towards the outside of the car and pull up very slightly on the rubber gasket (inside the roof channel) so that it is free and not squashed down by the connectors.



The rubber feet that raise the bar high enough for the pano roof are referred to in the instructions as being labelled "A" and "B"; it took me a few minutes to realize that the part actually numbered "235-A" was part "A" and the part numbered "236-A" was actually part "B" (see next pic). The two parts A and part B are not front and back but go diagonally opposite each other. There is a useful diagram in the instructions showing this.


It was after this part that I decided some photos would be helpful on TMC.....

It took me a little while to figure out the correct width setting. Flip the bars over (the bars are marked "front" and "rear") and you can see the setting holes, adjust the length to 3 holes showing on each side and you'll be spot on! The setting is the same front and back:

Note that the end caps are left/right oriented; keeping them on the correct side of the car will save time:
End Left Right.jpg

The instructions tell you to push out the fitted connector piece and replace it with the special ones provided. Yeah right! I'm no weakling but after skinning my thumbs on the first one, it took a trip to my workbench and a sharp tap with a hammer to dislodge the next three. I was scared of breaking the base but these things really didn't come out easily:


The instructions tell you to replace those you just removed with the new supplied ones.....Ok, the inserts for Model S are easy to fit but do fall out quite easily and after crossing to the other side of the car a few times and cursing once or twice I realized that it was just as easy to line up the bars and drop them in afterwards:
Replace Later.jpg

Tighten those little wingnuts alternately back and forth; what I mean is, don't tighten one side all the way and then cross to the other side. Tightening one side first pulls the bar across just slightly enough to make the other side an uneven fit; there's no alternative to a few trips back and forth walking around your car (unless you've got an assistant!). This is what the fitting (without end cap) should look like:
End Open.jpg

When replacing the end caps you need to simultaneously push down the rubber insert so the the guide mechanism slides into the aluminum channel but over the top of the rubber:
Press Rubber.jpg

If you've done the job correctly, these should be the pieces you have left over:

Here's the finished job:

Pano roof opens fine:
Front View.jpg

Sunroof Open 2.jpg

And 100% open:
Sunroof open.jpg

Note about noise...there's noticeable wind noise above about 50mph; it's not really disturbing, but you will notice the sound without an engine to mask it.

Other notes: I used the 3M body protection tape but I guess I'm going to remove that when I take the rack off again (the tape isn't pretty). Actually, the rubber on the feet is nice and soft and I doubt that the tape is really necessary. Also tear off the clear plastic protection film that's on the bars before you mount them on the car; I'm 6' but found myself leaning across the dusty car to tear that stuff off. If you've got an assistant or a compliant spouse the job could be done much quicker.

Finally, I'm going to leave the rack on the car for a day or two while I move my kayak from the yacht club but I'll admit that both my wife and I think it spoils the sleek lines of the car. It's going to be a useful rack and it feels solid and well made.

Oh, I hope the above notes and photos help you. If you're just following the instructions alone as I did you'll likely also end up considering applying for the English copywriters job at Yakima.....
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Reactions: callmesam


One can NOT induce accuracy with precision!
Mar 24, 2013
Wow - that was detailed! Thanks, Nigel.

I guess the only concrete addition I can make...for all it's worth...is that each of the four plastic covers Tesla emplaces over its threaded mounts are labeled "1" and "2". But - at least on my Model S - one the left side 1 is front and 2 is rear but - you guessed it - on the right that is reversed.

I wonder how you get a degree in English-Yakima-English translation.....???????
Thanks, @NigelM, for the extra pics. I was just comparing my parts today to your post and thought it would be nice to have a couple extra pics... and poof!

I'm still debating if I should keep this roof rack or not. For 95% of the year, I'm more than thrilled with the sleek lines of the car without a rack and can use the fold down rear seats to fit a bike or skis (and continue to be aero). I guess I should suck up the inconvenience of taking the rack on/off, and the less sleek look, for the ability to bring more gear and people - emissions-free :).


Space Weatherman
Dec 13, 2013
Annapolis, MD
This is extremely helpful, even for removing the rack, which I've just done. We put the rack on in March before open window driving was likely, and since then have been annoyed by the level of noise from the rack, especially with the roof opened up. The car is such a pleasure for open window and roof driving now that the rack is stowed.

Does anyone know of a rack involving just longitudinal rails that could more quietly be left on the car? I've noticed that many rack accessories are now designed to provide their own crossbars assuming only a rack with longitudinal rails. It's not so hard to put the Whispbar on and off, but IMO, it would be preferable to remove the crossbars in favor of rails.
Just installed my roof rack and I have to say with the directions listed here by @NigelM it was A LOT easier than I expected. The directions from Yakima are terrible so thanks to everyone for their diligence on TMC!

Also, it looks fantastic but as @ThomEM says, it does make a lot of wind noise for a very quiet car, so I will be taking the rack on and off fairly frequently. I think eventually I will get the time down to about 5-10 mins taking them off and 10-15 mins putting them on.

All told, very well engineered product.
Thanks for the installation instructions. Tesla's video instructions say to use 4 holes on one side and 5 on the other when adjusting the length of the bars both front and back. That made them WAY too big. 3 visible holes all around seems to work perfectly.
Lyon, I tried your 3+3 suggestion, but the end caps had a big gap where it meets the rubber mount. I will now try 4+4 and see how that compares. My S was built in May of 2015, I wonder if dimensions have changed slightly.
Just one thing to add to the discussion -- the tool for installing and removing the 4 bolts which attach to the MS is a 5mm ball end hex key/wrench, which allows it to be used at an angle (necessary). Trying to use a regular allen wrench would be an exercise in frustration.

I have found it easy to remove and install my rack, and I do so fairly regularly to enjoy the benefits of a clean look and reduced wind noise on days when I am not needing the storage space. I have marked the major parts on my own, so that I can easily put them back in the proper location when needed.

Overall the rack is solid and well-made and gets the job done. I would be less enthusiastic if I found the mounting and un-mounting to be a challenge.
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Reactions: ThosEM
My 2c. I think bicycles belong on the rear of the MS on a bike rack. Wind resistance avoidance (drag) is critical when driving an MS. My thinking is, skis on the roof, bikes on the back. Kayaks, well.... kayaks just gotta go in the roof rack! Here are a few photos of bikes on the back. BTW this was on a trip from Phoenix to the Bay Area. I bumped up my normal charging range for this trip by 100% so I could travel at freeway speeds comfortably w/o concern. .... I'm glad I did!

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