Guide: CX-5 Track Style Roof Rack

Just put roof racks on. Very happy about it. 2020 Touring.
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With the crossbars taken off, it is very low profile. Better mileage and less noise for highways. It also allows me to transfer the load directly to the pillar so I can carry a hippo if I want. I mean, you can carry a hippo if you want with other setups... you might worry more if the weight isn't transferred to structural members, that's all.
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Track installs suck because of hole drilling. I minimized the number of holes needed and hid them. This requires one plus nut and the associated 3/8" hole on each side. It is that bronze-colored circular thing at the very end of the channel. I made use of all the existing mounting points for the stock rack.
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No need to worry about the antenna. Also, these are the widest crossbars I found that will fit INSIDE the car when not in use. I want them as wide as possible so that I can carry 4 by 8 drywall or plywood and still be able to tie them down easily.
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Materials:

You need two plusnuts. Just buy a tonne and put them up for a garage sale after you ded.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010GQXJWI/?tag=m20b7-20

You MUST use socket cap screw, or button cap, or something that is turnable with a narrow tool like a hex key. Standard bolts won't do because you can't get a tool into the track to turn them. But you do you, maybe you got strong fingers or Magneto's your uncle. Also, pick s*** that won't rust. Don't cheap out and get zinc. Get at least stainless steel grade stuff.

2 x 1/4"-20 , 1.5" long socket cap screws
12 x 6mm 16mm long socket cap screws
Washers and lock washers appropriately sized. M6 or 1/4in works.
Gutter seamer because I am anal about rust and waterproofing. Or anything that will not **** up the paint or metal and keeps water out. Lot's of options out there.

Tracks and rack: Make sure you get the curved option for the tracks. This time, even magneto can't help you because you know, aluminum isn't his thing. For length, 56in if you want the track to extend all the way back to the end of the roof for maximum distance between the front and back supports like what I have here. If you want to avoid drilling into the roof altogether, 50in will work.
https://www.prolineracks.com/proline-roof-end-track-slats.html
https://www.etrailer.com/p-Y01-120B-NT.html
Other than drillbits (1/4 and 3/8) and metric hex wrenches, you will need a security hex wrench to install the posts but this depends on which kit you get.

Remember that you need to clear that sharkfin antenna. I don't know if other crossbars will clear the antenna. I don't have the moonroof thing. No idea if that will throw a wrench in everything.

For the posts and crossbars, you can obviously go with anything you want since all of the track systems are interchangeable. I have no idea what all the damn things are called so bear with me. There is the track. Then, there is something that is attached to the track. Let's call this thing the "slider". You can slide this forward and backwards with a hex tool. Then there is the thing that can be taken off by hand (in my pics, it's the piece with the keylockhole thing). Then there is the crossbar and whatever special attachments for crap you want to put on it canoes, bikes, tents, coffins whatever. As far as I understand, Yakima/Thule/Rhinorack sliders will work with this proline track. Everything on top of the slider may not be cross-compatible. I went with Rhinorack because cheap and I wanted as sturdy as possible ignoring aero. I mean, when I want to go fast, I have my motorcycle. This is for getting stuff done.

For the track, I think proline makes more sense. It isn't as beefy as Yakima or Thule, but it's narrower, so it is able to sit inside the channel. Looks better in my opinion. If you use Yakima or Thule, you will really need to support that sucker since it will be resting over the channel like a bridge. This proline track, it's in the channel, like, like, a collapsed bridge... I guess. Reason, the width. Yakima and thule are too wide to seat inside the channel. I do not think the beefiness of the track matters since the track isn't the weakest point.

Here are some hints for install:

(a) The most difficult part is drilling the holes in the molding and track so that they line up with the factory M6 bolt hardware on the roof channels. To accomplish this easily, use the paper backing from the tracks (or cut a 1in strip of paper) Screw into the mounting holes right through the paper, and after that, use the paper to transfer the holes to the track and the molding. The factory bolt holes are all painted over. This makes getting a cross-thread extra easy. Just be careful. Don't force it. And, the damn thing is METRIC. M6. Don't use 1/4". It will **** you up. The paper hole method gets you pretty damn close. A little bit of encouragement from the drill takes care of the rest. While you are enlarging the holes, make sure not to damage the threads of the mounting points under it. Drill all the holes in track and molding except for the one closest to the back because you want the hole on the track, molding and car to all line up. See (d).

(b) To install the plus nut, you also need a nut that is larger than 1/4". A 5/16 nut worked for me. You hold the 5/16 nut with one wrench and install the plusnut with the other. No need to buy any plusnut installation kits. Save yer money for gas to drive the cx5. Or wash it. Whatever floats your CX-5.

(c) Request for proline to only drill the holes at the two ends of the track. The predrilled ones in the middle don't line up with mounting points on the roof. No big deal, but if you are anal like me, why not. Not sure if proline will entertain but there is a comments section when you order so why the hell not. Try it.

(d) Steps: Figure out holes following (a). Drill all holes in track and molding except the one at the back. Put foam (I just cut up a foam mat from home depot) and whatever household s*** you can find that will fill up space in the channel so that the molding is supported from below. The white bits are some acrylic sheets from a bath install. I imagine a few layers of duct tape will do the trick. Avoid all the bolt holes and all the s*** in the channel and molding. See picture above. Attach the molding and track to the car for the 6 M6 attachment points starting from front working your way back. Take your time. Easy to cross-thread here. Useful to lube up the threads. Anything works, motor-oil, Astro, whatever you want. It isn't that important. Once everything is secured (no need to tighten yet, we are just positioning everyone for the one hole that needs drilling), drill out the final hole close to the back with progressively larger bits. Stop at 1/4" (coz the screw is 1/4in). Take off molding and track. Drill the 3/8" hole at the back for the plus nut (enlarging the 1/4") and install the plusnut. Conveniently, the trim under this part of the roof is sorta far from the roof. You need a very long bit to damage the car. That said, idiocy should never be underestimated so you do you. With the plusnut in, reinstall the molding and track. Repeat on the other side. The 56in track I got lined up well with the "straight" part of the molding. Just start bolting stuff on from the front and the track will follow the curves nicely. Slide the "slider" into the track BEFORE doing tightening the last bolt (which also holds the end plastic stopper thing in place). Not a big deal, but you save 3 mins of your precious time unscrewing, and rescrewing.

(e) Torque: nondominant pinky at about 4 inches is about right. When in doubt, find another pinky for second opinion. If really in doubt, consult an engineer in the presence of a lawyer. For me, it's my left pinky at about 4in. Efffing up the factory M6 threads isn't the end of the world. You can always resort to plusnuts but I wanted to do this minimizing the number of holes drilled. If you **** up the plus nuts as well... it's also not the end of the world. Just drill the plusnut out and redo it. There will be a little bit of plusnut remnant behind the trim but hey, we all have our dirty, shameful little secrets. Big deal.

Why all this instead of what's out there?

I wanted a strong rack that could be moved around as needed. Additionally, I wanted a system that could be taken off easily and stored inside the car since I am on the highway a lot and don't want noise/low mileage. I also wanted a system where I could restore the roof look back to stock if I wanted to. I wanted to be able to move all the hardware to a different car instead of being locked in with the CX-5. To restore to stock look, all I need is replacement molding, or if I am really cheap, just buy the molding liner. The 2 drilled holes will follow me to my deathbed as my secret. These last 2 holes are not necessary if I had opted for a shorter track (50in) but I wanted the longest track possible because I carry lumber frequently and wanted the crossbars as far apart as possible. As far as I can tell from researching this, no other system meets all these requirements simultaneously.

This system is rated for 225lbs which was the most I could find. Test: I did a karate-kid-kick one-leg stand on the roof rack without the actual kick, or the arm actions, or the headband. It was good. I'm 68kg.

I'm waiting for some car structural engineer to tell me that those two places where I drilled the holes will **** up the entire car. Please, just let me be. My fingers are frozen solid and my wife is laughing at me.

This other install style from rackattack comes closest. Major difference: You make holes in the exposed portions of your CX-5 roof. In my build, you make holes in the molding which you can replace for 50 bucks per side. The one hole in the car itself is hidden under molding. You can even save the molding, but your channel will be "naked" at the front of the car. It doesn't look good to me but you do you. This option would make sense for a leased car. Ohya, be very, very careful prying the molding off at the two ends. It's pretty brittle in the cold. Hug it and warm it with your love before you pry it off. Or be a cold hearted and use a hair dryer.

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Laterz fam. Hope this is helpful. Total cost for me was about $450. Not cheap, but considering that most of it can be moved to a different car, and I got exactly what I wanted, it ain't bad.
 
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2018 AWD GT Premium Red/Black
That looks way better than the painted plastic metallic OEM ones the dealers put on most of their inventory.
 

Antoine

Administrator
Nice! Thanks for the write up with pics (appreciate the humor as well). Posted a link to this thread in our Resources section...
 
I like the integration with the existing ditch molding. Curious what the hardware to mount the tower pad to the track looks like. Square plate or elliptical wedge plate?

Good job
 
I like the integration with the existing ditch molding. Curious what the hardware to mount the tower pad to the track looks like. Square plate or elliptical wedge plate?

Good job
oh hey! thought the username was familiar. I was totally inspired by the pictures you posted. My wife thinks camping on the car is just brilliant and I'm hoping to do that sometime. Got my aha moment when I opened the molding just to see what was underneath. Cheers!
 

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