Do You Leave Your Bike Rack on Your Car?

If you are someone who goes on bike rides often, chances are you might own a bike rack. And, if you take the bike on road trips, your rack is probably attached to your car.

Now, you might be wondering whether it is alright to leave your bike rack on your car. After all, it is extremely convenient to do so. Not only does it save time, but it also saves your energy, and allows you to take your bike on a ride whenever you want.

But, does that mean that it is practical? Rather than being a matter of can you leave your bike rack on your car, it is a matter of should you be doing so.

So, do you leave your bike rack on your car? Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of leaving the rack on so that you can evaluate for yourself!

Pros of Leaving the Bike Rack on Your Car

To evaluate whether you should leave your bike rack on your car, you will have to first consider its pros of it. Here are some of the advantages you will have if you always leave your bike rack in your car:

Go For A Ride On A Moment’s Notice

Sometimes, when the weather is nice, you will want to just take your bike on a hike. If you do not have your bike rack locked and loaded on your car, you will have to spend time doing so.

Having the bike rack on your car all the time means you will be able to go for a ride whenever you want! The convenience of it is what makes most people want to keep their racks on their cars even when they have not been put to use in a while.

Save Time And Energy

If you do not have tools to help you screw and unscrew all the parts of a bike rack, assembling and disassembling it is going to take some time. This time consumption is really inconvenient for those who have a lot of work and are in a rush.

On top of that, bike racks can be heavy, and on a sunny day, carrying and assembling them is the last thing you want to be doing. Besides the time consumption, the amount of energy it takes to put it on and off the car really does not seem to be worth it.

So, keeping it on is a huge advantage if you are looking to save some time and energy.

No Extra Storage Needed

While some bike racks that only fit one bike are smaller, if you have multiple bikes your rack is likely bigger as well. And, the bigger the bike rack is, the more difficult it is to store. So, if you do not have a proper storage space, you might end up damaging the rack while trying to fit it in a small space.

In cases like this, it might be a better idea to keep the bike rack attached to your car. Not only will it save you the hassle of disassembling and carrying it to storage space, but it will also save you the worry of finding storage space in the first place.

man securing a bike on the roof rack for a high speed drive

Cons of Leaving the Bike Rack on Your Car

While the pros of leaving your bike rack on your car seem tempting, there are a lot more cons to it. Having a rack attached to the back of your car is not as simple as it seems.

Here are some of the cons you will have if you keep your bike rack attached to your car all the time.

Car Looks Worse

If you are a car enthusiast, chances are love to keep your car as clean and presentable as possible. If that is the case, having a bike rack attached to it will make it look messy and unkempt.

While not the worst disadvantage, if you want to avoid having a car that looks messy, you best detach the rack after use.

Fuel Economy Is Worse

The heavier your car is, the more fuel it will consume to get places. Bike racks weigh a significant amount which can have greater inertia and resistance to moving forward, thus having a higher fuel consumption rate.

Overall, if you keep the rack attached to your car all year long, you will have a poor fuel economy due to the weight of the rack.

Car Becomes Noisier At Highway Speeds

When you will have a bike rack attached to your car, it will get louder when you drive faster. The rack will rattle against your car, not only creating a distraction for you but also increasing the chances of damaging both the car and the rack.

Risk Of Additional Wear And Tear On Car

The longer your bike rack will be attached to your car, the more likely it will be to damage the car. The chances of this happening will increase when you will be driving fast, or have a bumpy ride. There is also always a chance that the rack might scratch the paint of your car, and such damages cost a fortune to fix!

It is best to avoid having a bike rack on the car when it is not in use because it can prevent you from wearing out the paint or denting the car.

jeep rubicon with 2 bicycles on hanging hitch bike rack

Bike Rack Subjected To Elements For No Reason

Depending on the material your bike rack is made out of, it can be subjected to elemental damage.

If the bike rack is made of steel, corrosion due to rain and snow will shorten its lifespan. A rusty rack would mean that it would not sit securely on your car anymore.

Moreover, the chances of it breaking down in the middle of the road would increase too. If that happens, a broken bike rack is not the only thing you will have to worry about; your bike will perhaps break too due to the impact.

If your bike rack is made of aluminum, however, you will have to worry less about corrosion. Yet it is still better to have your bike rack stored somewhere else so that it is safe.

Harder To Park

With an extra load on it, your car will definitely be more difficult to park. If you have a hitch-style bike rack, and it is attached to the back of your car, you will need a bigger space to park it.

Usually, garages and outdoor parking spots do not accommodate the extra length you will be adding. This might mean that your car will obstruct other passing vehicles.

What’s more, is that the rearview cameras and parking sensors of the car may not work. So, you can hit the curb or other vehicles while trying to park it.

Risk of Accident

With the bike rack acting as an extension to your car, you might find yourself underestimating the length of your car. If this happens, you might rear-end other cars while you are trying to park your car. Similarly, others might not realize you have a bike rack on the car and end up hitting it.

On the other hand, if your bike rack somehow gets detached in the middle of the road, it might hit a car or passersby.

However, if you are an optimist, there is one silver lining you will find to this. While an accident with a bike rack will completely damage the rack itself, it will shield the car in the process. But if you think about it, is it really worth the price you have to pay?

Security Issues

Bike racks actually get stolen more often than you would think. If you park your car in a relatively unsafe location, there will always be a possibility of it getting stolen.

This is because even if bike racks are heavy, they are mostly quite easy to take off and disassemble from a car. So, a group of thieves can steal it without any risks if they please!

Risk of theft of the rack

Attracting Cop’s Attention

There is news that people are sometimes getting pulled over and left with warnings for having a bike rack on the car. The main reason for this is the obstruction of license plates.

You can easily avoid an encounter with the cops and a hefty fine if you do not leave the bike rack on when it is not in use. And, if you really must do so, study the local laws to ensure that the obstruction of plates is not illegal where you live.

Things to Consider

Here are some things you will need to consider when you have a bike rack that you are contemplating about attaching to your car:

Storage Availability

You will always have to consider where to store your bike racks when you have them. If you have space inside your house, you should definitely keep it there. There is a chance that you have enough space available in your living space if you live in a house. If you live in an apartment, you likely have less space.

Yet, it is still better to disassemble the rack when it is not in use and keep it inside for everyone’s safety.

Parking Habits

If you are often parking in unsafe neighborhoods, especially without security cameras and supervision, there is an increased risk of rack theft. Hence, you should keep your parking habits in check.

If you did not get a chance to detach your rack before heading out, remember to park in a location that is safe; even if it means you will have to walk a while.

Parking Situation At Home

If your car is parked in a garage or under a roof, leaving the rack on makes more sense.

But there is still a chance that the parking space you have does not accommodate to the size of the bike rack. In such cases, it is best to store your rack elsewhere.

Some people consider leaving the car on the driveway due to this. Do not do this! You will be inconveniencing others by blocking the space.


If you live in a region with freezing temperatures in winter, snow, ice, salt, and road chemicals will damage the rack.

This can easily be avoided if you keep it inside when you are not using it on a regular basis.

Your Driving Habits

If you drive at highway speeds often, it is better to remove the rack because it makes noise and is subject to air resistance. Also, if you are a rough driver, you will risk chipping the paint or denting the car itself with the bike rack.

The weight of the bike rack will also increase gas consumption. So, if you keep it attached all year long, you will find yourself filling up the car with gas more often than needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you leave your bike rack on the car when riding your bike?

So, when it comes to the question of if you should leave your bike rack on the car, the answer is always a no. If you have a space to store it, please do so!

As for leaving it on while you are riding your bike, the answer is still a no. This is because bike racks are very easy to steal. You should definitely avoid keeping it on your car if you have alternative options.


It is never a good idea to leave your bike rack on your car. Not only can it get easily stolen, but it can get damaged, or it can cause damage as well. Overall, the cons outweigh the pros by a lot, and if you are still considering leaving it on, take proper precautions and do it at your own risk.

So, now that you all the pros and cons, decide what fits you best!

Related reading: How to Carry Women’s Bike on Rack?

Related reading: Car Wash with A Bike Rack – Is It Safe?

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