While there are various ways to transport a bike on an SUV, people often wonder if it is possible and legal to use a trunk bike rack on an SUV. Well, it turns out you’re not the only one asking this question. Sport Utility Vehicles come in different types, so depending on how wide and tall yours is, you may want to fit in your bike without taking up the cargo space.

A trunk-mounted bike rack is an excellent option if you wish to put a kayak or sled on top of your SUV or perhaps drive under low underpasses and low-hanging branches. However, it’s not advisable because even if properly installed, it’s still likely to leave scratches or marks on your back door. If you want to keep your vehicle in good shape, a better option is to acquire a roof or hitch bike rack.

While the paragraph above may clear the air on your question, we’ve taken a further step to explain other ways to mount a bike rack on an SUV safely, and also we’ve recommended the best trunk bike rack to buy.

Using a trunk bike rack on an SUV

Ever since the days of the first SUV, Sport Utility Vehicles have lived up to the reasons behind their creation. If you know what SUVs stand for, you’d agree they’re not just a household name; they’ve won the hearts of many American homes and you’d most likely see one parked in a family’s garage.

This category of cars is known for its versatility, and ability to combine the best off-road features with the best on-road features. SUVs are a great option for a family vehicle, it offers plenty of legroom and headroom to give passengers optimum comfort. If you’re an adventurer, picking an SUV lineup from the most reliable car brands will spice up your adventure.

Are trunk mount bike racks legal?

Using a back bike rack, according to Bike Appeal, is not unlawful in and of itself. However, improperly installed units, on the other hand, might be dangerous and obscure your car’s license plate and taillights.

State regulations differ, but a decent rule of thumb is to make sure your license plate and taillights are visible. It might entail purchasing a lit auxiliary plate that is constantly visible.

How do you carry a bike on an SUV?

Of course, if you’re going on a trip with your family and your luggage in the back of the SUV, then definitely, your bike(s) will need somewhere else to stay. This is why bike racks are essential.

4 types of bike racks


Roof-mounted bike racks are installed on the roof of your car. While this type of rack is versatile in style, it’s one of the most expensive. Aside from being used for bikes, roof bike racks are fantastic for hauling skis or a small boat.


After roof racks, hitch-mounted bike racks are the most expensive. Hitch mounted racks are into styles; a hanging cradle, just like a trunk-mounted rack, and a platform, where the bikes are secured to. This type of rack is perfect if you often travel with your bike /or have more than 3 bikes.


A trunk-mounted bike rack is installed at the back of your SUV and hangs beneath the lip of the cargo door. It can hold one or two bicycles and is usually the least expensive option. More practically, it’s very useful since you can modify and use it on a variety of vehicles.

Spare tire–mounted

These types are an economical alternative to the trunk-mounted variety if you don’t have a trunk but do have a spare tire installed to the back of your vehicle. They’re simple to set up, but they can only accommodate two bikes at a time. They add a few feet to the length of your vehicle, much like the hitch-mounted kind.

Can you open your trunk with a bike rack on?

Bike manufacturers strongly advise against opening a trunk with a rack because it may damage the hinges of the trunk’s door and cause the door to drop or scratch the painting. Remember that the hinges on the trunk door were not designed to handle the weight of the rack, thus if you forcibly open the trunk, the door may come down quickly.

Do bike racks damage your car?

If you often use bike racks or you own an expensive vehicle and want to keep it in an excellent condition, this is a particularly crucial thing to consider.

While there are some type of racks that are more like to cause damage, generally, any bike rack that is installed, used, or maintained incorrectly can dent or cause harm to your vehicle which can be expensive to repair.

Say you fail to clear an extremely low bridge, garage or drive through, Roof racks can cause damage to your car. The bike can be ripped off the rack and possibly smash against your car if not your glass.

Hitch racks are not in direct contact with your car but if they are not properly secured and the bike sways or the wheel twists, it could collide with the car, resulting in damage.

Trunk-mounted bike racks use foam pads to sit on top of the vehicle. Over time, these foam pads rub against the paint, causing scratches, especially if the bike rack is not properly attached.

To prevent bike rack from damaging your car, ensure you

  • Install Your Bike Rack Properly
  • Double-Check Everything Is Secure
  • Be Aware of Your Bike Rack
  • Clean Trunk-Mount Contact Points Frequently
  • Use Painter’s Tape or Paint Protection Film
  • Choose the Right Bike Rack

Which trunk bike rack is best?

Are you considering installing a trunk bike rack on a hatchback, SUV, or sedan? Then check out the best Trunk-Mount Bike Racks.

1. Saris Bones (EX)

FEATURES: The unique mounting legs fit over most spoilers, the arced arms stagger bikes for spacing, the easy-to-use ratcheting cradle straps, anti-sway cradles, vinyl-coated vehicle hooks, and the arms fold down when not in use on the car. The Saris Bones is most compatible with Hatchbacks

CAPACITY: 2 – 3, (Not suitable for bicycles that are smaller than 20 inches)

2. Allen Deluxe Trunk Mount

FEATURES: The Allen Deluxe Trunk Mount is a fantastic value for the money.. It has rotating cradles to fit more bikes and will fit most 16′′ and 20′′ bikes without an adapter bar

CAPACITY: 2 – 4, compatible with most 16″ bikes

3. Thule Passage

Thule Passage Trunk Mount

The Thule Passage is a simple and easy-to-use trunk-mount bike rack with a hanging design. Some of it’s standout features include; no-sway cradles, a wide base for hauling heavy items, rubber cradle straps, vinyl-coated car hooks, and support arms that fold down when the rack is not in use while on the car

CAPACITY: 2 – 4 bikes

4. Hollywood Racks Express

Hollywood Racks Express Trunk Mounted Bike Rack

Despite the affordable price, the Hollywood Racks Express has solid and sturdy design. It is quick to attach and remove from the vehicle.

CAPACITY: 2 – 3 bikes

Final Words

Trunk bike racks can be used on a different types of vehicles including SUVs. While using a trunk bike rack on an SUV is a good way to haul your bike, it isn’t always recommended because an improper installation can cause damage or leave scratches on your car.

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About the Author

Larry Cruise


I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.

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