Saturday, October 17, 2020

DIY Roof Rack for 2007-2011 Honda CRV

I am bringing this blog out of hibernation to post something that will eventually help maybe one or two people, many years from now. If it does, leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about it. 

We have an upcoming project that will require a bunch of building things, involving 4x8 sheets of plywood. These cannot fit in a Honda CRV (at least not mine, a 2009 model). 

I was inspired by this post on Mr. Money Mustache about building a DIY roof rack. I love this idea vs. paying for delivery, and unlocking future utility in my vehicle. 

MMM's solution is to build a rigid square, strap/bungee the square to the frame, then load it up. I wanted to aim a bit higher and have something more durable - I'm too paranoid about a load flying off. 

I started Googling "DIY roof rack Honda CRV" and didn't find much out there. The first thing I learned is that the 2007-2011 CRV has 8 bolts available for attaching roof racks. Plastic covers can be simply popped off with a flathead screwdriver: 

Identifying the bolt type was another challenge. I found a great video by "James" on Youtube who identified conclusively the required part to make a rock-solid homemade roof rack:

M8 1.25-pitch coupling nuts

I looked all over Saskatoon but no one carried them. I found these deez nuts at Canadian Tire but they are only a few mm tall; they are not "coupling":

I brought them home and verified that yes, these conclusively fit the 2007-11 CRV. 

Note: Apparently the bolts on top of the CRV are painted at the factory. This means the nuts are a bit hard to screw on at first. Installing a nut all the way and removing it makes it easier next time. 

Then I ordered a 10-pack of these coupling nuts on Amazon at a cost of $16, plus extra for fast shipping

Next I built a rigid square frame out of leftover fence boards ($0). It's important to have 4 screws at each point - you'll be ratcheting stuff to this frame and want it to be solid. The frame is attached to "blocks" of 2"x4" that are used to stand the rest of the rack up over the roof, preventing contact between the rack and the roof. Here it is in our messy garage, leaning against a car that was most recently used as a garlic drying shelf and covered in sawdust:


I don't have a good close-up of how the frame is attached to the car, but here's how I stacked all the components: 

  1. CRV: M8 bolt built into car. 
  2. Flat metal washer just less than 1" in diameter - this ensures the first nut is about the right height. 
  3. M8 1.25 nut from the package about (this gets the coupling nut a but higher)
  4. M8 1.25 30mm coupling nut from the Amazon link above. 
  5. 2"x4" plywood block to stand the roof rack frame over the car roof
  6. M8 1.25 50mm bolt (just the right height to go through a 2x4 and into the coupling nut
The result is a SOLID roof rack at a final cost of under $40 (coupling nuts, 4 washers, and metric bolts;, all the wood was free/scrap). Here is the rack unloaded, loaded at Home Depot with two plywood sheets and some siding for the garage: 







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