Tesla Model 3 Roof Rack Install Step-by-step
The box arrived with this installation manual in it, and all of the parts were well labelled.
1. Unboxing – the install clip was broken, but Model 3 owner Cantdecide was still able to carefully use it
2. Find the arrows and clean the roof in preparation for install. The arrows can be hard to see, but they are a few centimeters from the joint in the roof
3. Install the abrasive stickers and the clips. Even when the clips are in place, they are a little loose. Once the roof rack is on it pulls them in tight.
Adding the side pads was easy, just make sure they are on the right way pointing the right direction with the right side up
4. 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
5. 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. 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.
6. 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
After the roof rails were installed, I mounted the Yakima Skybox 21
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.