How To Secure Bike Rack To Car?

Ensuring the safety of your bike is a must when carrying it with a car. However, people often ignore that the rack itself can be stolen if it isn’t secured too well. No matter how many expensive locks you use for securing the bike to the rack, all will be futile if the rack itself can be removed.

This is why securing a bike rack in the car is equally important. In this article, I’ll share multiple ways of locking your bike rack to your vehicle. So, stick with me till the end, and hopefully, you’ll be able to secure both your bike and bike rack from prying eyes.

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How To Lock Bike Rack To Car?

This section will discuss several locking systems you can use to secure a bike rack to your vehicle. Different kinds of products can help you with this, and it’s crucial to find the one that’ll suit you best. So, let’s take a look at what each of them has to offer.

Related reading: Best Bike Rack For Car Reviews & Buying Guide

Get Bike Rack With Built-In Locking System

There are a lot of bike racks that come with built-in lock systems so that they can’t be removed from the vehicle. The most commonly used locking system is the hitch pin. In this system, the bike rack is to be mounted with the rear hitch.

Now, the lock keeps the rack secured on the hitch. So, it can’t be unlocked without the pin.

Cable Locks

BV 30FT Security Steel Cable with LoopsBV 30FT Security Steel Cable with LoopsCHECK CURRENT PRICE

Cable locks are versatile, cheap, and lightweight equipment for securing bike racks. With a cable lock, you’ll be able to secure hitch racks or roof racks very well. We’ll discuss the methods in the later sections.

As these are very flexible, you can loop them through bikes, racks, as well as components of the car. Also, cable locks can be used to secure racks to tow hooks. These are also very cheap.

However, they are comparatively easy to cut. With just a bolt-cutter, any thief could easily cut into the cable in just a few minutes. Chains might also damage your car if they trash in the wind or bump your vehicle while driving. So, they shouldn’t be the top choice for securing expensive bikes.

Chain Locks

ABUS Hardened Steel 8KS 10 Foot x 5/16ABUS Hardened Steel 8KS 10 Foot x 5/16″ Thick Square Security Chain for Bikes, Containers, Trailers, ATV’s, Motorcycles and Personal/Industrial PropertyCHECK CURRENT PRICE

Chain locks are like the upgraded and more robust versions of cable locks. Unlike cable locks that are made with thin steel wires, chain locks are made of wide chain links. Also, they are made of magnesium steel composites.

This makes the chain locks much more robust and harder to cut than cable locks. Moreover, they will make noise if anyone tries to cut them with a grinder which will only draw attention in a public space. Thieves are more likely to pass if they see a chain lock.

While these are usually very heavy, they shouldn’t be tough to accommodate as you’ll be carrying them in a car anyway. Now, there are two types of chain locks you can use. There are chain locks with combination locks built-in, and there are chain locks that need to be secured with a padlock.

There is something you will need to remember, though. Chain locks should only be used when your car is parked. Otherwise, they can thrash around in the wind or bump your vehicle while driving.


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While padlocks can’t be used to secure every sort of bike rack, you can use them on hitch racks. So, instead of installing a hitch pin, you can use a padlock. If you get padlocks that require keys, they can’t be unlocked without a key.

However, cheap padlocks can be picked easily. This is why we recommend getting a quality padlock from a trusted brand.

In such cases, getting combination padlocks might be a good idea. They have more complex codes to crack, which can discourage thieves or stall them.

Related reading: How To Lock Bike On Car Bike Rack?

Passive Lock Strap

Thule Passive Lock StrapThule Passive Lock StrapCHECK CURRENT PRICE

To do this, you can use the Thule passive lock strap. It’s essentially a steel cable, and it’s wrapped in a sheath made of nylon. To secure your bike rack with it, you’ll have to loop it through the rack. Then, place the knobbed end of the strap into the hatch and bring the hatch down.

The puck of the strap is too large to pass through once the hatch is closed. So, it will keep the rack with your vehicle even if the straps are cut loose.

How To Lock Roof Bike Rack To Car?

You can lock a roof bike rack to a car in two ways. Firstly, you can use a strap. Loop the strap across the roof rack and into the vehicle. So, once the doors are closed, the rack will remain secure to the car.

Secondly, you can use a long cable lock. Instead of locking the rack to the vehicle, do this. Loop the cable through the bike’s downtube, the rear wheel, and the crossbar of the stand. This will make the removal process much more brutal and potentially prevent theft.

How To Lock Hitch Bike Rack To Car?

If you’re using a hitch bike rack, chances are high that you’ve already locked the rack to the hitch with a hitch-in. However, you can further bolster the security by looping a cable through the stand and the hitch. You can use a cable lock or a chain  in this case.

If you use a chain, you’ll have to use a small padlock to lock the chain. Irrespective of what you get, ensure it’s long enough to be looped around the hitch and the bike rack. But remember that cables and chains can damage your car if they thrash in the wind or when you drive. So, use them only when your vehicle is parked.

Another way of securing the hitch bike rack is to attach it to a tow hook, in case your car has any. Even if your vehicle doesn’t, you can install a tow hook on the rear, right underneath the rear bumper.

Once the hook is in place, you’ll need a cable, chain, or U-lock to lock the bike rack to the tow hook.

How To Lock Trunk Bike Rack To Car?

You can use a passive security strap if you’re locking a trunk bike rack in a car. Trunk bike racks usually have straps that can be removed quickly, even when the car’s doors and trunk are closed.

To secure these, you can use a security strap. These straps come with a puck at one end. So, you can loop the strap around the bike rack, put the pick in the trunk, then close the trunk.

So, if someone tries to take the standoff while the trunk is closed, this will happen. The puck will get stuck inside the trunk, keeping the rack secured to the vehicle.

How To Lock Spare Tire Bike Rack To Car?

Spare tire bike racks are designed to fit on your vehicle’s spare tire. These come built-in with straps that keep the rack wrapped around the tire. However, the straps can be removed very easily and quickly. So, it’s recommended that you use some measure of security on these.

The best way to secure the spare tire bike rack would be to loop a chain or cable lock around it. We recommend using a chain lock as these are much more secure and robust. Loop the chain through one of the bars of the rack. Then, loop it through one of the rims of the spare tire mounted on your car.

Finally, use a padlock to secure the chain. We recommend keeping the padlock far from the bike’s frame and rim. Otherwise, it may end up scratching either of the two. You can also use a combination chain lock, as you won’t have to carry a padlock. However, these aren’t as secure as padlocks and can be cracked by skilled thieves.

Related reading: Locks For Car Bike Rack

Learn More About Securing Bike Rack To Car


Securing a bike rack in a car is essential if the rack doesn’t come with a built-in security system. As you can see, each type of bike rack has to be secured differently.

But the equipment used to secure them remains more or less the same.

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