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Subaru Outback 2013 Roof Rack Torx Bolt

So I bought a certified pre-owned Subaru Outback from a Subaru dealership. The car was a part of the dealerships loaner fleet and so I know everything that was done to the car was done by the dealership.

I just tried to adjust the rails on my roof rack to put a cargo box on it and came to discover that one of the torx bolts that secures the rails was replaced with another bolt of a slightly different size. I discovered this because the torx key for adjusting the rails roof rack that all Outbacks come with doesn’t fit in the replacement bolt. My problem is the torx key that comes with my car doesn’t fit the replacement bolt.

I called the dealership and asked if they could order me a new bolt, the same size as the original that should be in the roof rack. They informed me that the parts cannot be ordered separately and that they’d need to replace the entire roof rack.

I think it’s actually true, that they cannot simply replace the bolt. I think that’s why they replaced the original bolt with another that isn’t exactly the same.

I am a bit worried about the replacement bolt because I’m not sure it’s strong enough to secure the weight of whatever I put on the roof rack. If the bolt isn’t strong enough, it could be dangerous.

I called the dealership and asked them what they could do to solve the problem and they said 1) they weren’t interested in replacing the entire roof rack just because for one bolt and 2) they told me to buy a torx key that would fit the replacement bolt. Not exactly what I wanted to hear.

Any advice on what I should do? I’m tempted to push the dealership and have them replace the entire roof rack because they cut corners to begin by installing a replacement bolt that doesn’t exactly fit.

The dealer is right about not being able to get a specific part like that. Some options I might suggest could be:
Find one from a wrecked Subaru being parted out.
Replace all of the bolts to use a common size Torx driver.
Contact corporate Subaru at their regional office and see if they could intervene and maybe go through the channels to have their rack supplier send you a missing bolt in the name of customer relations.

As to the bolt not being strong enough, I would not worry too much about that because the oddball Torx bolt is just as strong as the missing one.

The only bolts to worry about (and you won’t find them on automobiles) is Grade 2 bolts which I often refer to as “fence post bolts”.
Those are the comparatively cheap zinc plated or galvanized bolts and nuts you see at hardware stores for general repairs on the home and farm.

How about getting the odd size Torx driver?

Even Lowes sells higher grade bolts individually. And even grade 2 bolts will do the job you’re asking.
You could always take check one of the other bolts at Lowes or Home Depot for size (it’ll be metric, so use the metric size gages) and order the highest grade replacement torx bolt you can get over the internet. But, to be honest, I think you’re overstating the importance of the bolt. It’s normal to do so, I do the same thing. If it isn’t perfect, I worry about its adequacy.

“If the bolt isn’t strong enough, it could be dangerous”

What about the safe carrying capacity of the roof rack itself?
I haven’t checked my Owner’s Manual recently, but I think that the manual for my 2011 Outback–which is essentially the same as yours–states that no more than 100 lbs should be placed on the roof rack, which essentially makes the rack more of a styling affectation than a place to carry heavy loads.

I strongly suggest that you check this detail in your Owner’s Manual.

Because the bolt is a slightly larger size, I wonder if they didn’t just force a SAE bolt into the hole where a metric would go.
If that is the case you will need to get the proper torx key for that bolt, and you may need to use a tap to re-thread the hole to fit the metric bolt that should be there. Then you will need a metric torx bolt that matches the rest to replace the oddball bolt with.

I suppose you could pull one of the good bolts out and match it at the hardware store, but I doubt that you’ll find a perfect match in torx key size and yet the right thread and head design.

You could go to a junk yard and match one up.


Another possibility is to just replace them all with Allen head screws and carry a single Allen wrench. Those can be obtained from places such as Home Depot, Lowes, etc and have more than enough strength to put any fears of breakage to rest.

It’s certified pre owned go to the service department and complain the factory tool does not work on the roof rack. It is not your fault someone installed the wrong bolt. It is their job to correct the issue. I would let the dealer fix it. They are the ones who have maitained it and then sold it, let them order the correct bolt or roof rack if need be. I would also make sure the wrong size/pitch bolt was not installed.

Forget it requiring a different-sized torx bit…is the threaded shaft the same diameter and thread pitch? If so, then no worries. I suspect that that they came up one bolt short, and somebody had to make a hardware store run. (Just because the torx size is different, it does not mean the bolt shaft is different.)

My biggest concern would be the quality of the fastener if it were not original. Make sure it is stainless steel or hardened and not just a cheap bolt that could rust over time. If it is OK. All the good suggestions are options.

I like the idea of going to a salvage yard and finding an identical bolt from a wrecked Subaru. I’m sure that they have been using this same bolt for years.

It might be that the replacement bolt has a smaller torx head and still be the same size. Some OEM torx or torx+ instead of regular torx. If that is the case, you can replace all the other bolts with regular torx head bolts of the same size and grade ad then just carry the one new tool in your tool pouch.

Remember too just to add to this good suggestion in your search. Because it’s “factory”, doesn’t mean that it’s exclusive for Subarus. An astute and experienced man at the counter could help. Then, he could just say “stick it in your ear”, and try to sell you an entire rack. But I agree, it is worth a try.

One thing that does give me pause is, after spending a lot of money on a car at a dealership, you think they would move heaven and earth to help you out in this relatively simple item. I would mark one strike against them in this simple item as a dealer ship that might not back their cars. A simple call to a factory rep might get you one in the mail. (Or not) I would tell the dealership that. It is a “necessary” convenience item and 2013 Subarus are not cheap. I feel like you. If you pay a lot for a “new” car, you want it perfect. Maybe, it’s just the guy at the counter and some else there might be more helpful.if by chance you have that car serviced there,that works for you in a huge way…they are getting a lot of profit off you and this item is just a drop in the bucket.