Whether your cargo rack is installed on the roof or at the rear end of your vehicle, it needs regular TLC if you want to keep it in top shape for many years. Keep in mind that this accessory is usually exposed to friction, extreme weather, humidity, and vibration. Fortunately, proper maintenance is a breeze as long as you have the right tools. Here are some tips to keep your cargo rack in good working condition:
Regularly inspect the rack for signs of damage.
With regular inspections, you'll spot early signs of damage before they get worse. A torn or frayed strap, loose buckle, or rusty bar can all be easily fixed when spotted early on. Keep in mind that once a buckle, bar, or strap is damaged beyond repair, you'll have no choice but to get a replacement component or even a brand-new rack assembly in some cases. Plus, a damaged rack can easily cause you to lose or damage the equipment attached to it. So if you don't want to purchase a new kayak or surfing board because the old one fell off from the rack and becomes irreparable, take the time to regularly check the rack for signs of old age.
Clean the rack with the right tools.
To keep your cargo rack looking shiny and new, you'll want to regularly clean it with water and car soap. If you have a detachable rack, remove it from the roof from time to time to give it a thorough clean. Now when removing grime and dirt from the rack, make sure you're using the right tools. Wool brushes that are too abrasive can damage rack bars coated with chrome, while the wrong polish can destroy the luster of a steel rack.
Lubricate metal joints and bolts
Just like any metal accessory, a cargo rack's worst enemy is corrosion. To prevent or lessen the chances of rusting, lubricate the tightening knobs, locks, bolts, and washers every now and then.
Remove rusty patches ASAP.
When you see small rusty patches forming on the surface of the rack, grab a wire brush, steel wool, or special pads dipped in a rust-removing solution or cleaner. Rub the brush, wool, or pads against the corroded surface until the rusty patches disappear. But be careful when using abrasive tools on your rack; you'll want to remove only the rust and not the metal's finish. Once you've removed the rust, coat the cargo rack with lubricant or primer to prevent further rusting. Now if you can't seem to remove the rusty patches because they're too deep, you'll have to take it to a car shop or just get a replacement rack.
Avoid overloading the rack.
Each rack type has its maximum load capacity. If you go beyond this, you're putting unnecessary strain on the rack and on your vehicle. And when the rack is regularly abused, don't be surprised if it prematurely wears out. So to make sure the rack lasts a long time, use it to carry equipment that are within its storage capacity.