View Full Version : Fitting roof rails.

06-01-2011, 04:30 PM
I have an A4 estate (2000 on a W plate), that doesnt have roof rails fitted. I like the look of the rails that are fitted to some estates as standard, so was wondering if i buy a set of rails off a breaker, are they difficult to fit to a car that hasnt previously had them fitted ?
Thanks in advance.

26-01-2011, 10:35 AM
was wondering the same thing

28-01-2011, 09:54 PM
would imagine the hardest part of this would be lining em up so they sit in the exact right place, but other than that, canny see it being too hard, drill holes, apply some sealant and bolt down.

08-02-2011, 01:44 PM
I have been thinking the same thing, there is a set on an identical car to mine (a4 estate R reg) at the local scrappy. I havnt removed the roof lining to see how there connected yet (i.e. specialist fitment or just bolted through holes in the roof?)
He wants 50 for them (the come with roof bars too) .... im not too sure if this is a good price or not... but the more I think about it, the more I just want to know if its possible! :)

I'm gonna go for it and see how it goes...

Will let you know how I get on :D
(going to be a busy weekend, fitting a towbar too)


08-02-2011, 10:26 PM
if possible can you take photos as you progress with it mate

08-02-2011, 11:33 PM
sure thing whipsey :)

10-02-2011, 07:46 PM
Cheers for that. 50 doesnt seem too bad, they seem to go for twice that price on ebay.
Keep us posted on any progress please fella.:beerchug:

15-02-2011, 03:11 PM
Didnt get the rails from that guy in the end, he never returned my call...
but managed to get a set off a friendly guy who is breaking an a4 just down the road.
At first looks it seems a relatively straight foreward job (there we go, i've jinxed it now!)
I had the head lining and piller trims off and there are the holes needed to secure to inside the car, so just need to drill through the roof.. (drilled one today as a tester, using the hole inside the car as a guide, It went smoothly, just need to drill out to the required size, untill then I have abit of chewing gum pluggin up the hole in the rain :) )
There are only two issues that will be interesting... one lining them up (mainly guesswork)
and two, the front and back fixings have an oval shaped spiggot that fits into an oval shaped hole in the roof.... so i need to cut an oval... so will just drill two holes and file out to an oval... annoyingly the hole's need to be 16mm so need to get a new drill bit before i can attempt.
No pics yet, but will get around to taking some...
It will take a few weeks to get done, gotta wait for the drillbit in the post and some dry weather as I dont have a covered area to work currently :)
I will return either with good news .... or to explain how it didnt work and that i now have 6 holes in the roof of my car :P


15-02-2011, 04:53 PM
Thats good then Benji, at least we get an idea of what we're up against. Good luck with it !!

16-02-2011, 09:00 PM
soo.... about it taking weeks to do :P
I ordered a step drill yesterday afterrnoon, i thought this would be the best drill to use and give me the most flexibility to cut the right size hole (and also use it to 'reem' the hole to the correct shape, as step drills are rather good at cutting sideways!... not that I would do this... I will do it precisely with a file)

Annoyingly the dam step tool turned up at 11am this morning!
....and I couldnt resist having a bash, despite my brain telling me that I shouldnt rush, that I should take my time and measure properly

.... needless to say the brain was turned off for an hour or so
and I got drilling (rather excitedly!)

40 minutes later and guess what....:beerchug:

sorry about the naff photos, just grabbed them quick (not even sure if I managed to upload them right?)

I am currently driving around with only one on, as I need some free time to do the other. But now I know roughly how it works, I will take photos of all the steps when I do the next one. And do a little write up.

But just as a heads up, this is quite an easy job to do, the only places I went wrong were, i managed to chip a corner off the B-Piller trim when removing(rushing:(), and I managed to drop the rail against the car (rushing:()... so along with the nice new rail is a nice new scratch in the paint! (to join all the others :P)

I also really prefer the car with the rails on, personally I think it looks much better. I always thought it looked a little bare without.

Anyway, Cheers :beerchug:


17-02-2011, 06:48 AM
Hey that looks really good, and even better still is the fact that your car is identical to mine, colour and wheels, so i know exactly how its gonna turn out.:D

21-02-2011, 04:05 PM
Ok, taken the first step onto the road towards roof rails, ive sourced a pair from a 2000 A4 estate, from a guy whose breaking a car in Stockport, for 40. Im collecting them on wednesday, as its not too far from me and hopefully i might get chance to look at fitting them next week.:biglaugh:

21-02-2011, 04:27 PM
Sounds good Mark! (there so so easy to fit)

If you havnt got a step drill, I'd inverst in one now, as you need to drill a 15/16mm hole (and they are also rather useful for 'adjusting' the hole to make the rail stud fit) I picked mine up off the internet, managed to get a set of three different sizes for 12 including p+p
Heres a similar set

The only other tools you will need is an 8mm drill bit, a phillips and normal screw driver, 6mm allen key and the willingness to drill some holes in the roof of your pride 'n' joy! :D haha

I managed to get the other rail fitted over the weekend, got some basic pictures of the process at the time, so will whip the pics off the camera and post them up with a little note of what I did and where I went wrong :)
Need to work out how to insert large pictures into the post... rather than the small thunbnails I used in the previous post (anyone know how?)

I am so pleased that I have fitted them! I much prefer the look of the car now!


23-02-2011, 12:04 PM
Hey, as I said I would I have take photos of what I did, hopefully this will help others in doing this! :)

Right lets give this a go.

Before you start doing anything, its worth having a close look at another a4 that already has rail's installed. Make a mental note (or even better write down) where they fit. Look closely at how close the rubber pad of the rail is to the roof channel.
I was lucky enough to get a close look at the car which mine came off, so I used it as an opportunity to look inside the car under the head lining to see how the fixed.

Be careful not to drop the rail on the car, I wasn't concentrating and just brushed the car with the rail, putting a nice scratch in the roof :( ...to join the others that the car came with! haha

I also laid the rail onto op the car to see roughly where the holes needed to be

The rails have three fixing points, one at the front one at the rear where the boot lid is and one on what I call the C-pillar, which is one pillar forward from the rear of the car.
The rail has three spigot's that slot into the roof, annoyingly they are all different shapes. The front and rear are oval and the middle is round. (look through the pictures and you will see that they are all different)

You need to drill the holes in the roof to fit these spigot's as accurately as you can. Ideally with no movement at all. This will make sure the rails fit sungly and don't move much. But don't be surprised if you get a little movement.

Next step is to remove the roof lining inside the car. You only really need to remove it enough to get your hand in. I managed to tease the pillar trims off their top two mounts, so you can pull them back enough to get access under the roof lining. You need to remove the handles on the inside of the car to pull the lining down.

Start with the middle mount (sorry, couldnt get a photo to show where, but it really wouldn't help!) Pull the trim back, unscrew the handle, then pull the lining down enough to slip your hand in. Feeling with your fingers you will find a hole near the top of the pillar, this is the access hole to the proper mounting hole. Inside that hole about half an inch up is another smaller hole roughly 8mm. This is the hole that the bolt sits in. This photo shows it from above after I have drilled the hole in the roof.
This hole acts as your guide for drilling the hole in the correct place in the roof.
Take an 8mm drill bit. Now carefully drill from inside the car, through the 8mm hole in the roof(it should fit snugly, so you can use the 8mm hole as a guide) into the roof metal. Make sure you drill vertically. As you drill you will see a small bump appear in the roof. (I found it easier to drill standing outside the car So I could see/feel when the bump appeared)
As soon as you see the bump appear that's as far as you need to drill.
So long as you have been careful to drill vertically, this will mark the exact point where you need to drill.
Now time for the step drill. Using the step drill, and the bump as a centre point. Drill down through the roof.
At first just drill to the 2 or 4mm step and stop. Look down the hole you have drilled and see if it is vertically inline with the 8mm hole inside the car.
If it is, perfect! Carry on drilling till the hole is 16mm to match the size of the spigot.
If not don't panic, carry on drilling, but as you drill, put pressure horizontally on the drill in the direction that the hole needs to go. You will find that you can quite easily correct the position of the hole.
You should be left with this. (the picture is not from vertically above, but I promise that the holes line up!)

One hole down! Two more to go!

**Be careful to brush all the swarf away gently, It is very good at scratching the paint**

To mark the other two holes, I put the rail on the car, with the middle spigot on the drilled hole. Carefully lined up the rail in the correct place and marked where the other two holes needed to be.
rather crude, but easier than drilling from inside (for me anyway)

Now carefully drill the remaining holes, to make the oval it ins necessary to drill two holes slightly apart. Then you can angle the step drill to cut out the excess to make the oval.
make sure the first hole you drill is the one where the bolt goes through (as the bolt doesn't go through the middle of the oval, more to one side.
By drilling this one first, you can look through it at 2/4mm again to check its vertically above the 8mm hole already in the car. Mine was a little out of line, so needed to straighten it up.
Now drill the second hole.
And open up to an oval. (missing the photo :()

Fettle the hole with a file until the spigot fits.

Repeat for the other hole.

Now the rail should fit snugly to the car. (The less lateral movement you have now the better)

Now all you need to do is bolt it on! (Easy I hear you say....)

...this is where my method of removing the roof lining 'just enough' makes things a little harder. The front two bolts are not too bad to get in. Just feel where the hole is inside the car, and go for it! The bolts are tapered, so they find the hole relatively easily!

The only difficult one was the rear bolt. This is in a really difficult place to get to under the rear boot trim. I managed to do it without taking the trim off fully. But it would be much easier if you did take it off fully (I only didn't as I wasn't too sure how to) I'm sure there are a few good threads around the forum, explaining it all :)

Be careful not to drop either the bolt or allen key, I managed to drop and allen key, which is not somewhere inside my car :( ...

Now just repeat for the other side!

I chose not to put any sealant on the rubber pad, because it didn't have any on originally. I managed to get the bolts done up quite tightly and have relied on the rubber to make a good seal. We have had heavy rain over the last few days, so far no leaks! But if I do have any problems I will undo the bolts and use some bathroom sealant type stuff.

All going well you should now have a car with roof rails!!

I hope that this gives you a rough idea of what your facing doing this.
It isn't a hard job, just make sure you drill the holes in the right place! :P
Or you may have a few leaks :)

**Remember you have now broken the corrosion resistant galvanizing coating on the metal, so you have to ensure that the bare metal doesn't get wet and corrode, probably best to use a sealant of some type. Wont hard to be generous with it either!**