Piston Slap: Feelin' Cross About Tall Cross Bars!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap feelin cross about tall cross bars
Steve writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I am a family man and typically have a family hauler in the stable — minivan, three-row crossover, and what-have-you. I always get the manufacturer’s trailer hitch and roof rack/crossbars.

So, I like the size of the new Traverse/Enclave, but have you seen the ridiculous crossbars? See photo above.

They must be 8 inches or more off the top of the car. I usually like the look of the roof rack on larger vehicles, but hate the new setup. I know, I could get aftermarket accessories, and probably would. I Googled around for a reason why they are so high off the top of the car but found nothing. My working theory is that by holding a cargo carrier, or other items on the roof high enough, the airflow from the windshield can pass underneath the cargo unobstructed, resulting in a smoother, more perfect, more aerodynamic vehicle-cargo union rather than running into an air-dam of cargo, effectively forcing airflow around the obstruction.

In any event, thought it was an interesting unanswered question and if we will start seeing this as the norm on new vehicles. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks pretty goofy to my eye. It also looks more dramatic in person, if you have seen them riding around.

Sajeev answers:

How did you find that photo? After searching GM’s official websites for the Enclave and Traverse, only the low profile, aerodynamic and subtle roof racks are present.

And that’s how it should be — tiny useless things accessories that make us feel more special than a Impala or LaCrosse owner. We love them CUVs, so we lust for the requisite faux utility to complete the look: in this era of fuel economy wants against the people’s CUV needs, it’s better to keep ’em subtle and as wind cheating as possible.

Oh wait… I found one photo of those bigger, functional bars on Buick’s website. My bad: apparently part is what you’ve seen. And you are likely right about the height of the bigger rack vs. roof slope vs. frontal area (cargo box) being ugly by design to reduce aerodynamic drag.

And if you always get the OEM crossbars, there’s nothing wrong with these: enjoy them on your family road trip, then toss ’em in the garage when they aren’t needed. Looks pretty easy to do just that, provided you have a ladder.

[Image: General Motors]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
2 of 27 comments
  • Mike9o Mike9o on Mar 15, 2019

    Tall crossbars are due to dense people who install aftermarket bike racks attached with overly long bolts that will scratch the sunroof when it opens. Its a lowest common denominator fix.

  • James Charles James Charles on Mar 15, 2019

    Why do you require OEM roof racks? The aftermarket car accessories suppliers will have a product that would be most likely cheaper and better suited to your needs. To me this is a non issue. How hard can life be or how hard are you making it?

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.