Should you leave a bike rack on a car?

Is It a Good Idea To Leave A Bike Rack On Your Vehicle?

If you are an avid bike rider, it’s common to want to attach a bike rack to your vehicle.

But is it okay to leave your bike rack in the car?

Is it OK to leave your bike rack there for an indefinite period?

Allen Sports Deluxe 2-Bike Trunk Mount Rack, Model 102DN-R, Black
  • Patented design fits sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and SUV’s consult manufacturer web site for specific vehicle fit information.Comes fully assembled set up and installs in seconds 12 inch long carry arms easily accommodate a wide range of bicycle styles and 115 inch wide carry arms for greater bike compatibilityShips in certified frustration free packaging 70 pounds max capacityFolds fully flat for easy storage.Allen’s warranty does not cover items purchased through third-party sellersImportant, please consult manufacturer web page for specific vehicle fit.Target gender : unisex.
  • Side straps for increased lateral stability. Single configuration design eliminates setup hassles and headaches during installation
  • Individual tie downs secure and protect bicycles
  • Padded lower frame keeps bicycles away from vehicle
  • Comes fully assembled set up and installs in seconds 12 inch long carry arms easily accommodate a wide range of bicycle styles and 115 inch wide carry arms for greater bike compatibility

Last update on 2024-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Should you leave a bike rack on a car?


  1. Convenience: If you use your bike frequently, keeping the rack on your car saves time and energy as you won’t need to mount and unmount it constantly.
  2. Readiness: You’ll always be ready for spontaneous trips without worrying about how to transport your bikes.


  1. Fuel Efficiency: A bike rack, especially one that isn’t streamlined or when carrying bikes, can increase wind resistance, reducing fuel efficiency.
  2. Wear and Tear: Exposure to different weather conditions could lead to faster wear and tear of your bike rack.
  3. Risk of Theft: Depending on where you park, there might be an increased risk of theft if the bike rack is left mounted.
  4. Space Limitations: Some garages or parking spaces may not accommodate the extra length or height a bike rack adds to your vehicle.

Considering these factors carefully is essential before deciding whether leaving the bike rack on your car permanently or semi-permanently makes sense.

Leaving a bike rack on your vehicle is a matter of choice, but it does come with some considerations:

Aerodynamics and Fuel Economy:
, especially those mounted on the roof, can significantly affect the aerodynamics of your vehicle. This may result in decreased fuel efficiency due to increased wind resistance.

It’s worth taking the rack off when not using it to save on fuel costs.

Safety Concerns:
An empty rack could pose safety risks. Depending on their size and position, they can potentially obscure your view or that of other drivers.

Wear and Tear:
Continuous exposure to weather conditions (sunlight, rain, snow, etc.) may gradually wear down your bike rack and potentially cause damage over time.

Unfortunately, theft can be an issue. Some are quite expensive and can be targeted by thieves.

Parking and Clearance Issues:
With a bike rack installed – particularly roof-mounted ones – you’ll need to be mindful of clearance issues in places like underground carparks or drive-thrus.

In light of these points, many people prefer to remove their when not used. However, if these factors are not significant concerns for you, then keeping it on should also be fine.

There are many reasons to remove bike racks.

The added weight of a bike rack can reduce your engine’s efficiency. You also risk scratches, dents, and other damage to your vehicle.

Some drivers also find it difficult to park or maneuver around with these racks attached.

Bike racks attach to your car. A bike rack that is damaged or dented can cause serious damage to your car. Rust is also something to avoid. It may be time for your bike rack to be removed or replaced if it rusts or gets too old.

Removing your bike rack temporarily may be better if you don’t plan on using it for the entire season. Your bike will only likely be needed if you bring it to the park and/or on travels.

Thieves can be attracted to a bike rack kept on your vehicle. Although bike racks aren’t often stolen, there are many stories about bikes being stolen from them.

Leaving Your Bike on The Rack?

I’m one of those people who will leave the rack on my car. It’s easier than constantly taking it off.

Make sure you have the right bike rack.

Use the correct bike rack. There is no universal bike rack that fits all vehicles. Unless you order a custom-made bike rack, you must mount a roof rack, hitch, or other accessories on your full-size, medium, or small car.

Many small cars – smart cars are too small to fit a roof rack. Although they can be used for trucks, hook racks are unsuitable for hatchbacks or smaller cars. Hitch racks can also be too heavy for smaller cars.

You must ensure that the bike rack you choose is the right size. It should also fit your car perfectly. Every bike rack fits differently on cars, so it is important to choose the right one.

Trunk racks attach to your trunk and hang from its lip. Usually, straps are used to secure it in place. They are available for most cars and can be removed.

These racks need to be supported by your car. Roof racks attach to the roof railings at the top of your car. However, some models have attachments that can be used around this.

Best Security Details for Leaving Your Bike on The Rack

  1. Use a high-quality lock: Invest in a reliable U-lock or chain lock made from hardened steel. These locks are known to be strong and offer better resistance against cutting, sawing, and picking.
  2. Secure both the frame and wheels: When locking your bike, ensure you secure the frame to the rack and the wheels. Some wheel locks or cable locks can be used to secure the wheels to the frame or the rack.
  3. Choose a well-lit and highly trafficked area: Park your bike in a well-lit, busy area where many people pass by. Potential thieves are less likely to target bikes in places with high visibility and foot traffic.
  4. Record the details of your bike: Take note of your bike’s make, model, color, and any unique features or accessories it may have. Also, register your bike’s serial number with the local authorities or a bike registry in your area. This information can help recover your bike in case of theft.
  5. Utilize bike parking facilities with security cameras: Choose bike racks in areas equipped with security cameras whenever possible. These cameras can deter thieves and increase the chances of identifying and recovering stolen bikes.
  6. Remove any detachable parts: Take removable accessories, such as lights, saddlebags, or baskets, with you when leaving your bike. These items are often targeted by thieves and can easily be removed if not secured properly.
  7. Double up on locks: Consider using multiple locks to secure your bike. This can make it more difficult and time-consuming for thieves to break through the locks, further deterring them from targeting your bike.
  8. Use locking skewers: Replace standard quick-release skewers on your wheels and saddle with locking skewers. These require a specialized key to remove, making it more challenging for thieves to steal individual components.
  9. Consider GPS tracking: Some bike locks or tracking devices offer GPS tracking capabilities. This feature can help you locate your stolen bike or increase the likelihood of recovering it.
  10. Be mindful of the time: If you leave your bike for an extended period, try to check on it periodically. Thieves are more likely to target bikes that have been left unattended for a long time.

Remember, no security measure is foolproof, but implementing a combination of these ideas can greatly reduce the risk of your bike being stolen from a rack.

HYPERAX Volt RV -Approved Hitch Mounted 2 E Bike Rack Carrier for RV,Camper,Motorhome,Trailer,Toad with 2″ Class 3 or Higher Hitch Receivers -Fits Up to 2X 70lbs E Bikes with Up to 5″ Fat Tires
  • EXCLUSIVE DESIGN FOR RV: This series features a strengthened hitch mount designed to fit Class 3 or higher hitch receivers (front and/or back), giving you extra safety on the road. Please note that hitch receivers must be CHASSIS MOUNTED. Mount the hitch rack to BUMPER MOUNTED HITCH RECEIVER may lead to bumper tearing off and result in SERIOUS DAMAGE to the RV and even DEADLY INJURY. Caution: Due to tight space, please do not install the Volt RV between front vehicle and the trailer.
  • 140 LB TOTAL CAPACITY: Supports up to 70 pounds per rack, our rack is compatible with mountain bikes, electric bikes, road bikes with up to 5-inch fat tires, and up to 58-inch wheelbase. For step thru or lady bikes, bike adapter required (not included)
  • SAFE AND SECURE: Comes with co-injected soft rubberized ratcheting hooks that secure the frame of your bike in place without scratching the metal surface. Featuring dual key locks to prevent bikes and bike rack from being stolen. Adjustable wheel holders allow you to easily accommodate bikes of different sizes. Tighten the wheels with reflective velcro straps that help improve visibility in the dark. Additional security straps included, ensuring your bike stays firmly on the rack
  • CARRYING HANDLE / INTEGRATED WALL MOUNT: When the rack is fully removed from the vehicle and folded up, simply grab the carrying handle to easily move the rack around. The integrated storage hook allows you to hang the rack on the wall, saving you valuable space
  • FITS 2 INCH HITCH RECEIVER: Works with vehicles with 2-inch class 3 receivers and above. Secured by an anti-wobble ½ inch steel pin and a key lockset (Patent pending), the rack is sturdy and built to last.

Last update on 2024-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Make sure to use the rack correctly.

You must also ensure that your bike rack is properly used

A trunk rack may prevent you from being able to open your trunk safely. Most trunks cannot be opened with a rack or bikes attached.

You could cause serious damage to your trunk if you open and close the doors with this much weight.

Some hitch racks can be tilted away from your vehicle trunk when you open them. However, it is better to take the rack out of the way.

If you have a roof rack that you can use, ensure it is securely attached to your car’s rails. Also, ensure your bikes don’t get in the way when you open your trunk.

Your bike rack should hold the right number of bikes. Don’t overload your bike rack.

You should get instructions when you purchase your bike rack. These will tell you how many bikes it can safely hold.

Overloading your bike rack can result in the loss of bikes. In addition, the rack can also cause damage to your car and other vehicles. Bike racks typically hold two bikes, while heavier models can accommodate 4-5 bikes.

You should know the limits of your bike rack and be sure to follow them.

You don’t have to fit your luggage on a bike rack. Because luggage differs from bikes, it may not stick to the bike rack properly.

Keep Your Bike Rack Clean

Proper washing is the first step to proper maintenance. Not running your bike rack through an automated car wash is best. This could lead to accidents and damage.

Handwashing your car and rack is a great alternative to hand washing. A garden hose could be used with dish detergent.

Be on the lookout in case your car or rack is damaged. Damaged metal rusts faster, and rusted steel breaks and tears more easily. Use a universal oil to lubricate all moving parts, such as joints and locks.

Make sure that no chips are present. It would be best if you also inspected any straps or bungee cables.

When you remove your rack, ensure you properly store it until you are ready to use it again. Keep it dry and away from the snow. Don’t forget to attach it to your car.

You can store your items in a basement or garage to keep them safe from the elements.

Car maintenance is just as important as bike rack maintenance. Wash your bike rack as well as your car. If possible, keep your car under an awning or in a garage. Rain, sun, snow, and sunlight damage your bike rack and the car.

Should You Leave a Bike Rack on a Car? – FAQs

Q1: Does leaving a bike rack on my car affect fuel consumption?
A1: Yes, having a bike rack on your car, especially when not in use, can increase wind resistance, leading to increased fuel consumption.

Q2: Can it damage my car or the rack itself if I always leave it on?
A2: The bike rack pressure can cause wear and tear or even minor scratches to your car’s surface over time. If exposed to variable weather conditions constantly, the bike rack itself could also be affected by rust and corrosion.

Q3: What about theft – is there an increased risk if I leave my bike rack on my car unattended?
A3: The risk of theft does increase when you leave your bike rack attached, as opportunistic thieves may find it appealing. Consider using lockable racks or removing it when not in use for added security.

Q4: Is it legal to keep a bike rack on all the time?
A4: The legality depends upon local laws and regulations. It’s always advisable to check with local traffic rules before permanently leaving a bicycle attached.

Q5: Does a bicycle carrier hinder access to my boot/trunk? Some racks, especially those mounted at the rear, might hinder easy access to your boot/trunk. Hence if frequent access is required, you might need to consider removing them.

Always remember that while convenience is key, considerations around safety, vehicle integrity, and law compliance should never be overlooked.


You can keep your bike rack on your car, even if you aren’t using it.

You must ensure you have the right one, use it correctly, and try your best to secure and maintain it.

Happy Biking!

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