Roof racks are built to last and withstand the elements. But you still need to take care of them. Here are some tips to ensure that your roof rack remains in good working order for years to come:
Take the rack accessories off seasonally. Its not a big deal to leave your rack on year round. I do. But I never leave my ski rack on during the summer or leave my bike rack on during the winter. If you are not going to use it for an extended period or time, take it off.
Take the rack off at least once. When/if you do take your rack, or any accessory (ski rack, bike rack) off, clean it up. Use a wet rag to clean off all of the dirt, grim, and spiderwebs.
Replace parts as needed. Nuts and bolts can rust, but are easily replaceable.
Make sure that you have all four end caps properly installed so that no water is getting inside. Thule, Yakima, and Inno crossbars are made of steel and can rust from the inside out. Yakima bars are round, so when water gets inside, the bars swell. This make it near impossible to remove the towers from the bars.
If you get any nicks or scrapes in your crossbars where you can see the metal, patch it up with electrical tape. Again, we don't want water to get in between the coating and the metal.
Clean out your cargo box. Vacuum out all of the dirt, sand, etc. Dirt can get into the mechanism and make it very difficult to securely close the cargo box.
Remove and clean all lock cores. Use the installation key to remove the locks. DON'T USE WD40! Use something silicone based like TriFlow or Finish Line.
Follow these simple steps and you will have the roof rack as long as you have the vehicle.