I purchased a 2011 Chevy Traverse on July 1, 2011.
I've installed Yakima roof racks on three previous cars, and thought it'd be easy to find the right Yakima rack to install on my new Traverse.
Boy, was I mistaken.
Quick detour into a rant: I love that GM has come back from bankruptcy, and I really love the Traverse so far (except for the gas mileage...grrr.)
But it's interesting the ways that GM has gotten cheap as they come back from bankruptcy. Not producing beautiful brochures about their car models? Okay, I understand it. Not providing new car buyers with complimentary touch-up paint? Seems a bit petty, but sure, why not save the money. Installing completely useless factory roof tracks that serve very little purpose other than aesthetics? Just plain weird.
Anyway, as I checked on Yakima's website about info on how to install a Yakima system onto a Traverse, I was puzzled. The only options it gave were for a "naked roof."
How can the roof be naked, I thought, when those factory side tracks are there?
Well, as several other topics on this forum have noted, those factory side tracks do allow you to put the Chevy after-market roof rack onto the Traverse.
That seemed fine for most users, but I have all these Yakima bike & ski rack attachments that wouldn't fit on the Chevy roof rack. So that didn't seem to be the right option for me.
Yakima suggested using Q-towers and Q-clips to attach Yakima round bars to the roof of the Traverse. But if you look at where those would attach, it'd be in the door jambs for the front and rear doors.
That seemed silly to me for a few reasons:
- I didn't want those clips clamping down on a the roof and interior of a brand new-vehicle
- The distance between the doors that would support round bars was, max, 24 inches. That's not only a very small base to support a Yakima SkyBox or RocketBox cargo container, it'd also force the Traverse to carry the cargo boxes WAY forward on the car, which would really screw with the aerodynamics and the center of gravity.
- The Q-towers and Q-clips from Yakima are really expensive.
Next, I went to a very good rack dealer, Rack Solid in Santa Monica. They spent a lot of time trying to figure out a solution, but ultimately suggested drilling new holes into the roof of the Traverse, and then installing Yakima's Landing Pad 7 bases, which would hold Yakima Control Towers, which would hold the round bars that I already owned.
That's probably the smartest, safest, most solid way to install a Yakima system atop the Traverse. But I didn't want to do that because:
- It was gonna cost well over six hundred dollars for the drilling and installation of the Yakima parts.
- I didn't relish having holes drilled into my brand-new car
This was getting very frustrating.
I kept looking at Yakima's website and catalogs to see if I could come up with a solution for simply attaching my Yakima stuff to the rack of a crossover SUV that should be made for attaching all kinds of roof racks.
In the meantime, I purchased the optional after-market steel C-channels that Chevy makes that fit within the factory side tracks (or "pockets") on top of the new Traverses. Readers in other topics on this forum have mentioned that even Chevy Parts Dealers seem unaware that this part exists. But it does. It's part # 19244264. It's not cheap, about $125 suggested retail. You can find it cheaper online.
The part comes with instructions.
I installed these C-channel tracks onto my roof.
After the C-channels were installed, I kept trolling through Yakima's website, looking for some solution.
At first, I thought installing the Landing Pad 1, Landing Pad 4, or Landing Pad 5 might work. But the nutplates holding those bases down against the car were too small to be contained by Chevy's c-channels.
Next, I considered removing the C-channels, drilling into them, attaching the Yakima nutplates underneath the C-channels, then re-installing the C-channels into the factory side rails. I think this could work, but I didn't like the physics of how they would hold.
I looked at Yakima's current version of Rail Grabs with medium claws or small claws. But just eyeballing it, it looked like the claw might fit against the C-channels, but the base part would be an awkward fit.
Looking at old, discontinued Yakima parts, I came upon the EZ Rider Towers.
It looked like the "claw" from the EZ RIder Tower would sufficiently "grab" the C-channel rail. What's more, it looked like the flared base would sit on top of the plastic part of the Traverse's factory side rail.
I purchased the EZ Rider Towers (again, they're discontinued, so if you can find them, the cost should be $130 or less).
You assemble two EZ Rider Towers on each end of the round bars before you put them on top of the car.
When I fit the EZ Rider Towers into the C-channel/factory side rails, it seemed to fit nicely. As I tightened them up, the EZ Rider Towers gripped the C-channel and factory side rails with three points of contact (which is what Yakima always suggests):
- The claw grabbed the C-channel
- The bolt from the tightening knob "bit" into the plastic factory track on the inside edge of the car
- And the flared base snugged down onto the exterior edge of the plastic factory side rail
As I attached the round bars, it all seemed to lock in real solidly. I installed the round bars 34" from each other, and they're spaced really nicely for support.
When I did the ultimate Yakima test, of pushing up on the round bars and jerking them back and forth hard enough to make the car move, it passed the test.
I attached a heavily loaded SkyBox and a Steelhead bike mount to the rack.
I took both on a 540-mile trip, and they didn't budge.
So while neither Yakima nor Chevrolet would officially recommend using the Yakima EZ Rider Towers on the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse, it works for me and seemed to pass the test on a big road trip.
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