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New cars: are they as impossible as they seem for cartopping?

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Prompted by comments on 'back when they had real roof racks', I almost hijacked the 'pics boats on cars' thread, but I channelled Glenn and started a new thread instead.

I heard from CurlyMoe last fall that his newer CRV has sensors in the grill that bow-straps interfere with, and under the hood is all plastic with no place for tie-down loops to bolt on. A coworker got a new Crosstrek and was told that sensors facing the front of the car from the rearview mirror area can't be blocked. I had to discover on a new Outback that pressing the trunk-close button and then stopping it from closing three times would allow the trunk door to close partway with a kayak sticking out of the trunk.

All of this makes me nervous to replace my Forester, which is still going at >230k miles but may not go forever (knock on wood!).

I'm curious to hear of others' experience cartopping with 'new' cars, i.e. cars stuffed with all these sensors for auto-braking, lane departure, etc. Have you managed to find places to attach lines that are solid and still allow the car to function? Are the new racks really garbage?

Those with older vehicles flying the 'they don't make em like they used to!' flag need not comment. You're preaching to the choir!
 
I've had six Subarus since the early 2000's, and all have had a heavy sheet metal large philips head screw under the edge of the hood that are perfect for holding a webbing strap for a canoe bow tie down. With winter conditions still upon us, I have not had the need to transport any canoe on my new Wilderness Forester as yet. But I do now wonder if the bow tie down lines would interfere with the ISight road paint line sensors. Maybe using a dark colored rope would work better than white. Most times I only need to travel to Adirondack canoe races not more than a couple of hours, so no big deal without ISight.

I was disappointed that my new Subaru did not come equipped with roof cross bars, as all my previous Subarus did. But I did remove the crossbars from my older trade-in before i left it with the dealer. They do not fit perfectly on the Wilderness, and will require that I shorten them a little to fit properly between the rails. Should not be a big job.
 
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Had a 2021 Crosstrek for a while. Used strapping attached to tubes that would effectively wedge under the hood for the front, and regular grommeted strapping on the back. Never had any trouble with the sensors that I recall.
 
As someone driving an older, high-mileage car myself, I don't have experience with a new one to share... But, I learned a tip from the folks at Collinsville Canoe & Kayak last year that might help: they like to place loops of paracord around the hinges of the hood to use as tie-down points for the bow lines. That might not solve the sensor interference issue in all cars, since some manufacturers place the sensors behind the windshield rather than in the grille, but it should take care of the issue of not having good tie-down points under the hood.
 

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While it's been a while since I've cartopped a canoe I gave up bow and stern ropes years ago. I never saw the purpose of them other than a backup safety in case a belly strap failed.

I'm not sure how a far overhanging canoe might interfere with a forward facing camera through the windshield but I'm guessing the car would cope just fine since it should be pretty obvious that it isn't a moving target.

Alan
 
Probably does not make much difference, as Alan says, with relatively small solo canoes otherwise securely strapped down, but I often transport 18.5'(C2) and 23'(C4) racing canoes. Even with bow tie downs, I have had times when I was very happy to have them when the vortex gust of a high speed semi trailer whizzed by me. Also, on the wide open Canadian plains on the way to the Yukon, strong cross winds (plus trucks) were brutal. I also use gunwale blocks on my Thule crossbars for more security. Charlie Wilson says that stern lines are not necessary unless you are in the habit of driving in reverse at 70 mph.
 
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Charlie Wilson says that stern lines are not necessary unless you are in the habit of driving in reverse at 70 mph.
Since the stern of most of my canoes is farther back than my bumper, I always figured that it would keep the canoe from sliding backward if the other tie down straps loosened.

I still do front and back tiedowns; it does not bother my 2022 Subaru Outback electronics at all.

Back in the days of the "Quik & Easy" gutter mounts racks, I was mostly paddling whitewater kayaks and C1s. I would often strap the boats down (sometimes 5 or 6 boats while doing a shuttle) and tie the bow and stern lines to the racks, figuring it was more aerodynamic and less distracting than a mess of lines flapping over the hood. It worked, but I never tried that with my open boats. Those gutter mounts were tough!
 
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I don't have any really new vehicles, but I posted the following on MBWorld three years ago.

********************

Carrying a canoe on the roof of my 2013 E350 causes the low beams to come on even during the day. The canoe overhangs the windshield and hood. My hypothesis is that the overhanging canoe is fooling the headlight sensor to think it's dark enough to turn on the low beams. [Another poster's subsequent testing of the sensors in the rear view mirror/windshield electronics confirmed this.]

canoe_on_mb_at_lake_waramaug_.jpg

I don't want my low beams on when I'm driving during the day with the canoe. So I want to turn them off. I have this kind of exterior light switch:

light switch.jpeg

The low beams come on in the day in the Auto position and stay on when I click clockwise to the one-o-clock manual position. If I click once counterclockwise from Auto to the 11-o-clock position, that doesn't help because it turns on the parking lights. However, if I click to the nine-o-clock P positions (there are two of them), I get what Mercedes calls left or right standing lamps. These P positions seem to turn off the low beams and parking lights when the engine is running, which is what I want.

But when I turn the engine off with the switch at P (L or R), the standing lamps will come on unless I turn the switch back to auto when the engine is off.

Does all this sound correct? If so, my workaround to keep the low beams off during the day when the canoe is on the car is to set the light switch to P when driving, and to make sure I set it back to Auto when the engine is off.

This would all be so much simpler if MB simply had an OFF position for all the exterior lights . . . just as I (and all my ancestors) had on every single car I owned before this one.
 
If so, my workaround to keep the low beams off during the day when the canoe is on the car is to set the light switch to P when driving, and to make sure I set it back to Auto when the engine is off.

I believe that it's technically illegal to drive around with your parking lamps on.

This would all be so much simpler if MB simply had an OFF position for all the exterior lights

Or if you quit worrying about your headlights being on during the day. :)

Alan
 
I believe that it's technically illegal to drive around with your parking lamps on.



Or if you quit worrying about your headlights being on during the day. :)

Alan

The two P positions (left, right) on my light switch, which is my driving workaround to shut off my headlights while driving with a canoe on top, don't turn on the parking lights. They turn on the left or right standing lamps, but only when the car is shut off. These lamps are used when you park and leave your car on the narrow and crowded city streets of Germany and Iowa. If you park with the right side of your car against the curb, you would turn on your left standing lamp. This provides visibility so that Oktoberfestian drivers can see the exposed rear corner of your car. It also, I assume, drains your battery.

I don't want to drive hundreds or thousands of miles, as I often have, with my headlights on while I tote a canoe. They are bi-xenon lamps that are expensive to replace. Plus, I already have bright DRL lights on while I drive.
 
My newest vehicle is a 2015 CRV
I haven’t used bow or stern lines since 1981
My longest hull is 18 ft, never a problem with the bulls shifting but for the longer boats (over 15 ft) I use little saddles that prevent the gunnels from moving on the racks
Haven’t lost one yet!!
 
While it's been a while since I've cartopped a canoe I gave up bow and stern ropes years ago. I never saw the purpose of them other than a backup safety in case a belly strap failed.

...

I'm good with two cam buckle belly straps 95% of the time. The only time I add bow and stern ropes is when I'm driving long distance, more than a couple hundred miles at interstate speeds. I find the bow lines in particular can reduce the amount of yaw axis movement, which over time can cause the boat to wiggle backwards, loosening or tightening (depending on hull shape) the belly straps. The bow ropes connect to fender bolt loops and are tied separately with taught line hitches so I can adjust them. That all takes quite a bit of fiddling but if I'm driving from ME to MO it's worth it.
 
Years ago I dedicated my boat carrying duties to our pick-up. Since I have a cap with rain gutter attachments for the back and a suction cup rack with pass-through strap for the front, it doesn't matter the age or fanciness of the truck. It's simple and it works. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I carried a boat on a car due to the issues some folks have mentioned.

Now, all that said, we just got a new Rav 4 that came with a roof rack & bars. Since it's all part of the vehicle, I feel comfortable thinking it would work for hauling a canoe. Even so, I'd only go on local trips with it so I don't have to worry about bow/stern lines getting in the way with all the new safety features that are electronic in nature.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper
 
Like yknpdir, I have had 4 Subaru Foresters since 2000 and have used all of them to car top canoes with no problems. It has always been easy to attach tie down straps under the hood. I like the cargo capacity, mileage and ground clearance of Foresters. They have performed well on bush roads in Canada. And back home they are my wife’s daily driver.
 
While my car is a 2006, I still never use bow or stern ties to the bumpers. (!) Firmly cross strapped, with a line from the bow and stern hitched to the crossbars just in case. Thousands of miles without incident.
There are pieces of hose with loops designed to fit under the hood.
 
I always have bow & stern tied down, along with straps over the canoe at load bars position. Plus properly positioned load stops. Better to be a bit safety conscious, may save time & money in the long run.
I once watch a Cessna 185 on floats fly over our fish camp with an improperly tied on Grumman canoe flopping along behind the aircraft as it powered up to maintain flight control, as it flew to a bigger lake for landing. The pilot later told one of my companions, that there were a lot of tight sphincter muscles when that happened, including his own. He said he would never trust anyone but himself to lash on a canoe in the future, then check it twice.
I never drive a vehicle without the headlights on. I don’t care how expensive it is to replace light bulbs or how short the drive. I want to give the distracted drivers every opportunity to see me approaching.
 
I will only add I've had no trouble cartoppingbon my 2018 Outback. Hood loops anchored with a screw that was there. Thule bars - a 56" and a 76" set for carrying two. And for long distances I tie the stern to the tow hitch - the loop where the safety chain attached.

Surprisinfly, the bow ties don't interfere with eyesight.

Anyone else particular like me putting bow forward?
 
I always transport a canoe bow forward—as @yknpdlr said, it is bad luck not to. It’s also the only orientation that makes sense for loading and unloading my solo canoes with my car/rack (my crossbars don’t stick out past the rails, so I can’t easily load the canoe from the side of the car as some folks do).
 
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