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Yakima (and Thule?) prefers to use Plusnuts, which they describe as:
"A Plusnet is a 'blind' fastener that, once installed, provides a threaded screw hole in sheet metal. It works a lot like a molly bolt in sheet rock, only much stronger and is made of stainless steel... We recommend them .. to avoid having to remove a vehicle's headliner ..." (from the FAQ for their Tracks).

Years ago I installed their artificial raingutters on the roof of my pickup. That was before they used Plusnets. I loosened the headliner, and shoved it to one side so I could install the nuts on the underside - except for one corner where bracing required the use of sheetmetal screws. Removing the headliner is not something I'd readily do, though the large rear door on the Element may make that job a bit easier.

An alternative is to mount something under the roof garnish. I've seen two references to doing this:
- the extended roof basket that is (was?) on sale on Ebay uses added mounting points welded to the roof near the tailgate. The garnish needs to be trimmed to access these points.
- the stock mounting points on Coastline-of-the-world's Element were rewelded. I believe there was mention of removing the headliner in that case.

paulj
 
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