Can I Open The Trunk With a Bike Rack Installed?

Since there are different types of car bike racks, the answer to your question is highly depends on which bike rack type you are planning to buy, and, sometimes on the car body type as well. In short:

  • Trunk-mount bike racks do restrict trunk access. Opening the trunk with a loaded trunk rack is out of the question. However, an empty trunk rack won’t be a problem nine times out of ten,
  • Hitch bike racks do not restrict trunk access in most cases. These guys are designed in a way so that you can tilt the whole rack construction back a bit and access your trunk, no problem. It won’t require removing the bikes, which is super handy,
  • Roof bike racks, as the name suggests, are getting installed on the roof so this bike rack type can not prevent trunk access under any circumstances,

However, since the bike rack type is a big deal when it comes to trunk access, let’s consider each rack type in more detail.

Can I open the trunk with a trunk bike rack?

This bike rack type is installed directly on your car. It is in direct contact with your bumper, painted elements, and, if we are talking about hatchbacks and SUVs, the rear window as well. 

As a result, a loaded trunk bike rack puts a decent amount of pressure on the above-mentioned parts of your car, because the rack itself weighs around 20-30 lbs plus two bikes will add another 40-60 lbs.

Opening a trunk rack with bikes on it would mean even more pressure. That’s why you can’t do it:

  • The hinges of your trunk are not designed for extra 50-100 lbs so they can easily get damaged,
  • There is a great risk that you will scratch your car or even leave dents on your bumper or destroy the rear window,
  • Moreover, it is simply not an easy task to open the trunk with a loaded trunk rack since it will require lifting of extra 50-100 lbs.

An empty trunk rack does not restrict trunk access (except for some rather exotic rack models). You can easily open the trunk with an empty mount rack on it since the rack weighs only 20 lbs on average, which won’t cause the above-listed issues.

A Tip. Watch out for straps, especially if we are talking about hatchbacks and SUVs. Straps can easily slip down while you are opening the trunk and get in the position where they are not supposed to be (for example, the taillights area). When you close the trunk back, the hooks of the straps can damage your car if they are in the wrong place (even crack the taillights).

Can I open the trunk with a hitch bike rack?

The absolute majority of hitch bike rack models do not restrict trunk access with bikes loaded. This is the case because the construction includes a tilting mechanism so that you can simply tilt the whole loaded rack backward and access the trunk area.

By the way, there are three hitch rack types: platform (tray) racks, vertical hanging racks and horizontal hanging racks. All of them allow tilting the rack backward most of the time.

Very few cheaper models do not have such a useful feature. In this case, you would need to remove the whole rack in order to access the trunk, which is going to be a pain in the neck to do it every time you would like to open the trunk. 

So yeah, make sure that your hitch bike rack includes the tilting feature. All premium segment racks do (Yakima, Thule, Hollywood).

Can I open the trunk with a roof bike rack?

Roof car bike racks do not restrict trunk access simply because they are installed on the roof.

I can imagine how an incorrectly installed roof bike rack can cause some problems on SUVs and hatchbacks, but if you carefully follow the installation instruction it will never cause any issues.

Let’s also consider less popular bike rack types

Can I open the trunk with a spare tire bike rack?

A good thing about this rack type is that you can open the trunk even with a loaded trunk rack. Why? Because a spare tire trunk rack only applies pressure on the tire so it won’t damage your car.

Spare tire hitch racks can be tilted a bit backward so the trunk access won’t be a problem as well.

Can I open the trunk with a truck bed bike rack?

This type of bike rack does not involve the tailgate of your truck in order to be installed. That’s why you can easily open the tailgate with a loaded bike rack and access the cargo bed of your truck.

Can I open the trunk with a tailgate bike rack?

You would have to remove all the bikes in order to be able to open the tailgate for obvious reasons. A tailgate bike rack is simply a pad that you put on the tailgate, and then put bikes on it.

Can I open the trunk with a ladder bike rack?

This bike rack type is mostly used on RVs. It won’t be a problem to open a loaded ladder bike rack in most cases, though it obviously depends on a particular RV model.


Summing up, trunk-mount bike racks are the biggest troublemakers when it comes to accessing the trunk. You would need to lift off all bikes in order to do it safely each time you would like to open the trunk.

A decent hitch bike rack won’t cause any problems, thanks for the special tilting mechanism. That’s why I would recommend this bike rack type for most people since it is really handy.