Is My Bike Racks Illegal In Washington?

Is my bike rack illegal

Recently popularity of Bike Racks extremely increases. For traveling many people carry their bike on the rack attached to the car. You may one of the person who looking to travel along with your. Real mount bike racks are easiest to transport bike. But you will be in trouble and receive a ticket if you don’t follow the laws regarding bike racks in Washington.

If your bike racks obstructing the view of licence plate or taillights and if the bikes on the racks or the rack itself are found to be loosely fitted, it is illegal in Washington, you are sure to get a fine.

There are several reasons that lead sure to get a fine. So what are the reasons behind your bike racks illegal In Washington. Types of bike racks that may block the license plate. How to fix a bike rack blocking the license plate?

Reason Behind Your Bike Racks Illegal In Washington

Blocking the license plate may not be the only way your bike rack could violate the law. There are many other reasons which violate the Washington bike laws.

1. Obscuring Licence Plate And Taillights

Washington state do not allow the use of bike racks, any object or any cargo device which obscuring licence plate and taillights.

Washington state require the license plate to be visible so the driver of the vehicle can be identified easily by law enforcement. And also to ensure an Electronic Toll-collection system would be able to detect the plate.

2. Exceed The Maximum Allowable Tongue Load Capacity

If you are using hitch-mounted bike racks, make sure weight of bike and bike racks doesn’t exceed the maximum allowable tongue load capacity of your vehicle’s hitch (typically 10 percent of the towing capacity). If it exceed you are sure to get a fine.

To find out what is maximum allowable tongue load capacity of your car, you can refer to your car’s owner’s manual. We have also provide maximum allowable tongue load capacity in Buyer’s guide of your car or just search your car name in search box and find Buyer’s guide of your car.

3. Loosely Fitted Bike And Bike Rack

It doesn’t matter which type of bike racks you are going to install but make sure it will properly fitted on car. Also when you travelling with bike on bike racks check that your bike will not be loosely Fitted.

Loosely fitted bike and bike rack is not illegal until something goes wrong. Sometimes bikes or bikes with bike rack will fall onto the road, potentially damaging other cars or injuring others.

Unsecured loads on your car will also result in expensive fines and potentially even jail time! Unsecured load fines in the United States range from $10 to $5,000, with 16 states including jail time as a possible punishment (Source).

4. Carrying Empty Bike Racks

While all states allow bike racks to transport bikes, they also Requires to be remove empty bike racks while not in use.

Some states allow to carry empty bike racks but Washington state doesn’t allow to carry empty bike racks. If you fail to remove results in fine.

Types of Bike Racks That May Block the License Plate

You know that blocking a licence plate is illegal in Washington. Before buying or installing bike rack you should know that which racks are blocking the license plate. This is important if you haven’t purchased yet or must purchase a new one.

1. Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch-Mounted bike racks are connected to hitch of car. Since the hitch is directly in the center of your vehicle, it typically sits right in front of the license plate.

Hitch-mount bike racks usually block the license plate more when the bikes are loaded. This could result in getting pulled over by police in Washington.

Typically hitch-mounted bike racks are more expensive ($150 to more than $500) than trunk-mounted. Although they are more expensive but they are typically designed to haul two to five bikes. Hitch-Mounted bike racks are either platform style or hanging cradle style.

Platform Style

Platform style bike racks

In platform style, bikes are sit on bike racks which is most secure bike racks. Because bikes more securely fitted on platform style bike racks. Although it block the license plate but you can use auxiliary license plate or temporary relocate license plate.

Hanging Cradle Style

Hanging style bike rack

In hanging cradle style, bikes are hanging on racks which is less secure than platform style. It is less expensive than platform style bike racks. It has possibility of loosely fitted on racks.

2. Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks

Trunk mounted bike rack

Most of the Trunk-Mounted bike racks are design to not block the license plate and taillights. But in many car arrangement of licence plate is at middle of car. In that case Trunk-Mounted bike racks block the license plate.

Trunk racks are often limited in their load capacity (two to three bikes is typically the max), and once mounted, they interfere with trunk access. Additionally, the effectiveness of the rack relies on the straps being secured tightly. If done poorly, the bikes might shift or sway while driving.

Bike Racks That Won’t Block the License Plate

There are some types of bike racks which specially design to avoid license blocking problem. Basically any rear mounted racks block some part of licence plate or taillights but their are some bike racks which completely resolve this problem.

1. Roof-Mounted Bike Racks

Roof mounted bike rack

Roof-mounted bike racks are attached to roof of car instead of rear. This is only option which completely resolve blocking problem under any condition.

In Washington their is strict law against blocking of licence plate in this case roof mounted bike racks are great option for you.

Although it is great option but have to consider wind resistance or wind noise while driving can be noticeable and can also have a negative but minor effect on gas mileage. It is not great option for taller vehicles or people who have difficulty with heavy lifting.

Remember hitch-mounted bike racks is best you can use auxiliary license plate to solve license plate blocking problem.

2. Some Trunk-Mounted Bike Racks

Some trunk-mounted bike racks are specially design to not block the license plate. This racks are light weight, highly portable and easy to store when not in use. With some practice, they are easy to mount and take off. It is most inexpensive of the bike rack systems ($50–$200). They are easy to mount and take off.

3. Spare Tire Mounted Bike Racks

If you are using a car which has spare tire then there is no more better option than spare tire mounted bike racks. Spare tire common for SUVs and other off-road vehicles.

It is easy to mount and take off bike on spare tire mounted bike rack. In many spare tired vehicles license plate is at left bottom which helps to not block license plate.

How to Fix a Bike Rack Blocking the License Plate?

Washington state is against the blocking of licence plate. If you already using or buy a bike rack which blocking license plate then you need to fix it to avoid fine.

1. Use Auxiliary License Plate

When your bikes or bike rack blocking license plate you need a temporary auxiliary license plate. Washington state allow you to use auxiliary license plate to remain visible when a bike rack is in use.

This will help people, police and toll plaza to recognise car. Auxiliary license plate should be remove along with bike racks while not in use.

2. Temporary Relocate License Plate

If you see that your license plate doesn’t visible at all and you are rush to travel you can relocate the license plate with some adjustments. The process of relocating may be easy or hard depending on which type of vehicle and bike rack.

The process of relocating may be easy but Washington state need the license plate to be illuminated at night. This means you will have to make a system to keep light on the plate if you’re driving at night. Instead of relocating buying a auxiliary license plate may be easy for you if you travel at night. Many companies provide proper place for license plate to relocate on rack.

3. Use Proper Bike Racks

Using proper bike rack is most important step before going to install. You need to choose bike rack according to hitch load capacity, position of licence plate and taillights.

If you are going to use roof-mounted rack then you need to consider wind resistance and height of car. If height of car more than 5.7 feet then it is difficult to lift the bike.

4. Buy New Bike Racks

Buying a new bike rack may not be good option for you but if you have budget then definitely go for new one. We have proper buyer’s guide for your car according to which model you use.

5. Remove Empty Bike Rack

Blocking the license plate may not be the only way your bike rack could violate the law. If you doesn’t remove the empty bike rack when not in use you are ready for fine. Many states allow you to carry empty bike racks bike laws in Washington are strict that’s why you need to remove empty bike racks after uses.

6. Make Regular Checks

It’s not enough to simply mount the bikes on your rack and forget about them until you reach your destination.

Make a final check before you set out on your journey to ensure the bikes are securely attached to the bike rack and that the rack is securely attached to the car.

You should also stop and make regular checks along the way to make sure the bikes and the rack haven’t become loose. Regular checks are particularly important if you’re on a long trip.