Thule’s communications manager, Karl Wiedemann, has gotten back to us re our recent reports on T2 rack failures. Essentially what happens is that the outer most tray (spar) slides off the rail (backbone) while the car is in motion, potentially creating all kinds of havoc, from bike damage to collisions with trailing vehicles.
As Wiedemann notes in an email: “We have heard of a few instances regarding the issues you have described with the T2. Our quality testing team has been unable to replicate this scenario in our lab or on our road tests.
“As always, testing is carried out with correctly assembled and installed products. Thule is committed to making products which have the highest safety and quality. Even though we were unable to duplicate the problem, as a precaution, we started installing a bolt on the underside of the T2 last year. This bolt helps to keep the T2 trays on the rack even if the tray bolts were not secured correctly during the installation.
“As with all Thule products, the T2 comes with a lifetime warranty and we stand behind the product 100%. If anyone has an issue with any of our products, they can call our customer service 800-238-2388.”
At Bike Intelligencer, we still think Thule should recall the T2. If we were confident the fix worked as described, we might let the situation stand. But the “bolt” referred to is, on our recently purchased rack, a small Phillips screw. If the bracket is loose and carrying a bike, the screw will do little to prevent the tray from sliding off.
Recalls are expensive. At this point there obviously have been few enough failures, and the failures have caused little enough damage, that it’s been cheaper to warranty the racks and replace or repair damaged merchandise than to issue a recall.
In the case that prompted our initial investigation, the victim reported good response from Thule. The company agreed to pay for approximately $635 worth of bike repairs and replace the rack.
We like the T2. If Thule made the modifications we’ve suggested, we’d love the T2. We hope there will be no more rack failures, and that if there are, damage will be minimal. We’d rather Thule did not take the risk.