Traveling With A Roof Rack: 10 Do’s And Don’ts

With summer holidays just around the corner, you should be looking forward to that road trip you’ve been planning for so long. You might be driving your car with your newly installed universal roof rack to take your bike or boat with you. 

Or maybe you’re using the roof rack’s storage box to store your family’s belongings together with the camping tools you’re bringing along for the trip. Whatever your reasons are for having a roof rack, it’s vital to know the details of which type to get – and how to correctly assemble it with the instructions given. But before you do that, keep a few things in mind:

Type Of Roof Rack

It’s crucial to make sure your roof rack fits the allowable dimensions of your car, and it is installed properly. This guarantees your belongings are still intact and secured in place when you arrive at your destination. 

If you’re still in doubt on how to install your roof rack, ask the local seller to guide you. There are many different types of roof rack, so do your research before deciding which ones are the best that suit your vehicle type. 

  • Bike racks are one of the easiest and quickest roof racks to install, secure and remove bikes.
  • Roof baskets are great for hauling luggage, small tent or everyday use. 
  • Cargo boxes are suitable for outdoor enthusiasts who prefer their equipment protected against the harsh environment.
  • Snowboard/Ski racks are used to transfer your snowboards or skis only.
  • Kayak Carrier – used to haul kayak and canoe.

In this article, we will learn ten do’s and don’ts when traveling with a roof rack on your vehicle.

1. Carefully Read The Settings Manual 

Before you fit a roof rack to your car, make sure you read the settings manually and fully understand the instructions. This will help prevent any mistakes and ensure the task of installation is easy, quick and safe. You don’t want to accidentally damage or scratch your car by doing it the wrong way. After all, your vehicle is worth more than the roof rack. 

2. Torque It Properly

Pay attention to the torque settings as an overly tight or loose roof rack can damage your car severely. A properly fitted roof rack will provide trouble-free use for years. Remember, an overloaded roof can cause car damage too. 

3. Lube It Regularly 

If you leave the roof rack exposed to the weather all the time it’ll wear down. Try to prevent it by using a bit of copper grease on the mounting bolt threads from time to time. This will shield it against corrosion and make removing the bolts easier in the future. 

4. Remove The Roof Rack When Not In Use

Your roof rack may be made from lightweight materials, but it still adds weight and aerodynamic pull to your vehicle and may affect fuel consumption as well. So, remove it when you’re not using it. You’ll reduce the noise of the wind too. 

5. Check Weight Limit/Do Not Overload 

Your car should have information on the weight restriction that can be loaded onto the roof. Usually, cars have a lower limit on how much weight can be loaded in the car compared to the roof rack. Make sure to check both weight limits; you don’t want the roof rack’s weight to exceed your vehicle’s roof load limit. 

6. Do Not Speed 

Generally, even without a roof rack installed on your car roof, driving within the speed limit is essential for safety. Some roof rack such as cargo carriers and boxes are built with specific speed rate warnings which you shouldn’t break. As with aerodynamics, continuously speeding with an attached roof rack will likely damage your car, roof rack and jeopardize your safety. 

7. Keep It Secured All The Time

To ensure the safety of your carrier box-roof rack or the roof rack itself, always keep it locked before you begin your journey. Without thorough securing your roof rack – it might slide off and hit your front mirror or worse, other people. You don’t want your roof rack to be stolen when you leave it without securing it. Carrying overhanging items like Christmas trees or other large items such as a canoe requires a tight lockdown. Never secure your item to a car bumper or any part of your vehicle. 

8. Use An Anchor To Secure

Large objects such as bikes, kayaks and canoe must be secured to the vehicle front and back, not just on the roof rack. Use a car’s towing eyes or a tow bar if you have one to make sure it’s tightened up strongly enough. Large items can initiate massive amounts of aerodynamic force – if not tied properly, it could rip your vehicle’s roof off, especially when it’s windy.  

9. Get Help

Loading and unloading a storage box on the roof rack of your car can be quite a challenge if you’re doing it by yourself. Ask for help from family members to assist you when you’re attaching the roof rack, organizing the items to bring, and lock it properly. Loading a canoe or kayak is difficult to do if you’re alone, you might end up scratching both pieces of equipment, not to mention the car itself.

10. Take Height Into Consideration 

Imagine driving inside a mall parking lot just to have your roof box rip through the ceiling. If you’re driving an SUV or MPV, measure the extra height of the car when a roof rack is installed. Or simply remove it when you’re not using it. 

Compared to the last ten years, now, attaching a roof rack to add more load during traveling has become a lot easier – as there are detailed guides on how to do it. However, there is still room for mistakes if you’re using it for the first time. Take proper precautions and use the right information to prevent any damage to your vehicle and roof rack. If you’re renting a car, ask permission from the rental service before you install the roof rack. Also, in this article, you can find additional tips about how to how to car camp on public land.

Author: Brandon Park