View Full Version : Installing factory roof rack rails.

02-07-2009, 07:06 PM
I bought my Mag because I like wagons for their utility. SO any good wagon should have a roof rack. Since most SRT's don't I put one on myself.

Before you decide to mount the factory rails on your car make sure you want them there - FOREVER. You will make you roof ugly under the mounting points, and it would take alot of body work to make it smooth again.

My other warning before you start.

Put a fender washer between the nutsert and the bottom of the rail feet. I explain why later.

I bought a used take off rack and cross bars from a member here for $150. The factory rails consist of 10 total parts you need.

2 - Rails
4 - End covers
4 - Rubber pads that mount between the cars paint and the plastic ends.

There are a few different possible ways to mount the rack to a non factory equiped car.

Weld studs to the roof like the factory does
Drill holes through the roof, remove the headliner and use bolts
Use a threaded insert for a blind hole (nutserts, or rivnuts)

I used the nutsert method on the advice of member Mol SRT8. SO that is the way will show how to mount the rails. IF you plan to use the rack to haul heavy loads you may want to go with the bolt method, as our sheet metal is pretty thin and I am not sure how much load capacity the nutserts have. I already pulled on of the nut serts out wile mounting the rails, and if I have any more problems I will probably switch to bolting the rails on.

Heres a list of what you will need aside from the factory parts.

8 nutserts (not a bad idea to get a extra one or two) I got them at a local autobody shop for about 45 cents a pop. I used 1/4" thread, but I would highly recomend going with 5/16th's. The larger size will make them a little stronger.
8 bolts of the same thread size as your nutserts. I used allen head, but any thing should work.
16 1" diameter fender washers of the same size as the bolts.
8 lock washers same size as bolts.
1 longer (1.5-2.5") hex head bolt of the same thread as the nutserts.
1 regular nut of the same thread size/pitch
1 piece or flat metal to make nutsert tool (look at pics to get a better idea)

Tools needed

SHARP drill bits
Drill bit stops.
Masking tape
wrenches that fit the bolts and nuts
sharpie marker

Heres the nutserts and bolts I used. The fender washers are not sown in this pic.


Heres the bit stops I used. They were a couple dollars at menards.


Time to start. By this point I'll assume you have drank 1-2 beers after running around town collectin the needed supplies.

Assemble the cross bars on the side rails. Leave the end caps off. The cross bars have arrows that point to the front of the car on them, and each corner is labeled where it goes. Set the rack on top of the car roughly where you want it. The cross bars have about 1/2" of movement in and out to allow for the difference in the space between the rals from front to back. Try and keep them in the middle of the adjustment when determining where to mark the mounting holes. From what I was able to see there are no re-enforcements in the roof for mounting points.


I recomend mounting the rear feet first so that you can measure from the back of the roof line. I used a measurement of 4" from the end of the roof to the rear of the rear mounting hole.


Put masking tape on the roof under the mounting holes of the rack. And position the rack where you want it. Go back and forth from side to side adjusting the rack untill its centered on the roof from side to side. Making sure to keep the cross bars in the middle of their adjustment. I measured at the front edge of the rear mounting feet.


Once you are satisfied with the positioning of the rear feet use a marker to mark the mounting holes of the rear feet. After you mark the holes and remove the rack you may want to double check that they are just about the same measurements from the rear and edge of the car on each side.


Now its time to get serous and start drilling holes in your car:panic:

start with a small bit. Install a bit stop so the bit can not go more than 1/2-1" into the roof. I found that I did not need to center punch the holes. Between the tape and soft paint the bits did not wander on me.


Continue stepping up your drill bit size until the nustert fits the hole. Make sure not to drill the hole too large. The top lip of the nutsert should sit on top of the sheet metal and not fit through the hole. I used a steped sheet metal bit once I had drilled the intial hole. It makes a nice clean round hole. For 1/4" nutserts I needed to drill a 1/2" hole.



Stop and drink a beer, think about the fact you just drilled holes in your roof.:panic:

Its now time to install the nutserts. I had read and been told you can do it with a bolt and 2 nuts. I tried, and I couldn't, the nutsert kept spinning on me. So I came up with my own ingenous nutsert tool. I looked at my work bench and noticed a piece of aluminum strapping with a hole in the end. It worked perfect.


The idea is to smash the top of the rivnut, pulling the bottom up and sandwiching the cars sheet metal between the top lip and the bottom of the rivnut. With the bolt, nut, washers, tool, and rivenut set up like in the pics. Hold the top of the bolt to prevent it from turning, along with the piece of metal. Use a wrench to tighten the nut, compressing the rivnut. You can feel it happening by how much force is needed to turn the nut. When you are no longer able to tighten the nut the process is complete. Back the nut off slightly and unthread the bolt. The nutsert is now installed ready to be used.


THis is what a compressed nutsert looks like


Heres two installed.


Once you have the 4 rear nutserts installed put the rack back on the car and lightly bolt the rear feet down. VERY IMPORTANT - Put a fender washer between the nutsert and the bottom of the rail feet. I learned the hard way that the rear mounting holes in the rail feet are larger than the nutsert and will pull the nutsert out of the roof into the foot. Take my word, You don't want that.:blam:

Position the front feet so they are center side to side and mark their mounting holes with the marker.

Remove the rack and drill the front holes, and install the 4 front nutserts the same way as the rear.

Once all the nutserts are installed remove the masking tape. I smeared antisieze around all the nutserts as a method of reventing rust. It might work it mght not.


Put the rails back on the car, making sure to put the rubber pad on the bottom of the feet. Bolt the rails to the car. Making sure to put a fender washer between each nutsert and mounting point. Don't over torque the bolts. I don't have a spec, but I got them snug with a 3/8" ratchet. I did have to notch the 2 front top fender washers. You could probably also use regular washers in these 2 spots.


Once it is all bolted down put the plastic end caps on the feet. The 2 metal rings for the caps should be put in the female hole on the foot before putting the cap on. IF you put them on the cap's post they will just slide farther up the post and not go into the hole on the foot.


Thats it. Your wagon is now worthy:beerchug:

Heres some pics showing 3 different Thule cross bar options.



From front to back; Thule 751 with no rubber pads, THule 751XT, Thule 450 Mounting feet with Thule cross bars, and the stock cross bars. I plan to use one of the 751 options.

02-09-2010, 08:53 PM
Nice right up!

Some further advice (I didn't see it mentioned) where you used anti seize a better idea would have been using a silicone bead around the nutsert.

Then again, use a bead of silicone beneath the washer on the top side of the racks base, this will prevent ANY water from getting into the interior.

Yakima also makes an alternative to the nutserts that is pretty slick, look into their "Permanent" install options.

I've done this in the past with another vehicle and I've been thinking about doing this to the Magnum...

09-26-2011, 11:49 AM
Good Project.

I was looking for these side rails ...

What is the Mopar part number ?

03-25-2016, 09:46 PM
I picked up a roof rack months ago and I've never gotten around to installing it so this is a huge help, just wanted to bump it back up to the top for anybody else who missed it.

03-25-2016, 10:00 PM
Thanks, I had forgotten about this post. A very late update; I no longer have the Magnum( wish I did). But for the several years I had it I hauled a lot of stuff on that roof rack. Never had a problem with anything loosening up.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v103/9guy9/Bikes/Copper%20Harbor%2009/DSC00743.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/9guy9/media/Bikes/Copper%20Harbor%2009/DSC00743.jpg.html)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v103/9guy9/Cars/06%20Dodge%20Magnum%20SRT8/DSC00554.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/9guy9/media/Cars/06%20Dodge%20Magnum%20SRT8/DSC00554.jpg.html)

04-13-2016, 06:08 PM
I picked up a roof rack months ago and I've never gotten around to installing it so this is a huge help, just wanted to bump it back up to the top for anybody else who missed it.
Thanks! Just got my magnum. Looking into roof rails.

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04-13-2016, 06:19 PM
Thanks! Just got my magnum. Looking into roof rails.

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You're welcome and welcome to the addiction, the Magnum is an awesome vehicle!

04-13-2016, 06:20 PM
Yes it is. Besides it's electrical ghosts. Lol

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04-13-2016, 06:44 PM
Yes it is. Besides it's electrical ghosts. Lol

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Well unfortunately that goes for every vehicle on the market since OBDII, every vehicle has some various electrical problem that plagues them.

04-13-2016, 08:31 PM
True. Worth it nonetheless.

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04-14-2016, 11:19 AM
True. Worth it nonetheless.

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Well I've hauled transmissions in the back, plywood, ridiculous amounts of gear and supplier for beach parties, etc...and then tossed on a helmet and walked new (well new at the time) 5.0s with the baby seat in the back behind me.