Submitted: 06-24-2010 by RBerta
I have a full sized Chevy Van and getting either of my two kayaks (each 50#) on top wouldn't be possible without causing a bad back or hernia.
I had read the reviews and main issue was the latch issues on earlier releases and key latch. Both seem to have been cured in the current versions and mine has been trouble free. I did want to make an effort to test and report on these two areas for potential future owners.
It works as advertised and it is nice to be able to raise and lower the kayak easily..often with no more strength required than a one hand tug. I did get some advice from others that I think is sound:
First...to make sure the latch mechanism catches in the down position you should make sure that after placing the kayak on the two padded arms that you haven't twisted one or the other arms. After lashing the back side down I slightly lift the kayak front from the arm so it can naturally take its neutral position. Now lash it in place.
After swinging the kayak to the side in preparation for removal make sure each is latched in place. You can check this by pressing the upper hinged part towards the car. Now try raising each arm a bit to see if it is latched or not. On mine that hasn't been a problem but I can see how it could be if care isn't taken. It is also important to place the two basic roof racks square to the roof and equally distant apart to avoid twisting and resultant difficulty in latching. When installing the roof rack itself make sure you don't spread them so far apart that you can't reach both handles and release them at the same time. I suspect that any issues with the latch are more due to user operation than product issues. To make sure I always put the roof rack in the same place I used a permanent marker to make a small dot at the correct location for each rack riser on the car roof at the rain gutter attachment place.
I did check the key locks and they have been trouble free. I have locks on both the Hullivator and the Thule roof rack.
Features not mentioned in other reviews....
When the Hullivator is in the loaded position you can remove the entire unit from the roof rack by removing one steel lock pin...no tools required. This takes a few seconds and means you don't have to leave your Hullivator permanently mounted on your car. WORD of warning though... before removing lock the handle so you and others can't accidentally hit the release handle and collapse the unit. If you do it will swing closed which could be dangerous but even if not...getting it open again requires great care so you don't pinch your fingers, etc.
Finally...the strut used in the Hullivator is a standard strut that is used to hold the hatch open on hatch back cars. They use compressed fluid as a spring/damper. The piston shaft must be kept clean and free of rust. If you use it a lot in salt water environments you may want to clean that strut off occasionally and/or not leave it on the car all the time. If you get rust on the shaft it can cause a failure of the unit...pressure and oil is released by the bad seal.
Final comments...after 6 months of nearly daily use it has been a great device that saves my back. Since it is outside the vehicle it is exposed to weather, dirt etc. so should be kept clean, especially the strut sliding piston shaft.