Not all car racks need to be mounted on the car when not in use. This is why you need to ensure you have the storage space for them. If the average roof-mounted car rack does not require too much storage space, a cargo box needs to be out of your way as its plastic cover can be easily scratched.
Some people keep the roof racks on top of their cars both during the winter and during the summer to carry their needed outdoor gear. However, you need to be aware of the maximum speed regulations which apply to these racks and drive accordingly.
Are roof rails and roof racks the same?
No. Roof rails can support the roof racks. Roof rails run lengthwise on the roof of the car, whereas roof racks sit on top of and connect to roof rails. Most roof rails are factory-installed, which means you can proceed to install a roof rack on them. However, if your car doesn’t come pre-installed with roof rails, there are aftermarket options for you.
How much does a roof rack cost?
There are many types of roof racks that are now specifically made for certain loads such as skis or bikes. Prices vary according to the size, materials, and systems such as locking mechanisms.
How do I know what kind of roof rack do I need?
When looking to purchase a roof rack, you need to determine the type of cargo or equipment you plan to purchase. If you want to go skiing, you need a ski or snowboarding rack. If you want to go cycling, you need a bike rack. If you want a rack that can keep rain and snow away from your equipment, a cargo box is recommended. There are many types of racks and if you want the best solution, you always need to look for a specialized design.
Can I use crossbars with roof rails and roof racks?
Crossbars are mounted between roof rails and the roof racks. While they are not necessary for all situations, they can be recommended when it comes to better functionality. Crossbars are also usually left on the roof of the cars for longer periods of time as they are a thing and aerodynamic. Unlike roof racks which are larger, crossbars can handle increased speeds, at least up to certain point.
Can roof racks be removed?
All roof racks can be easily installed and easily removed. Modern roof racks can be installed within 15 minutes. They can be removed as quickly as well. If you don’t need the roof racks all the time, you can remove them from your car, leaving its roof with just the roof rails.
Is a roof rack dangerous?
A roof rack is not dangerous if installed correctly. At the same time, a roof rack can only be dangerous when you do not take the overhead clearance into consideration. In some cases such as driving at high speeds in windy conditions, your car can also become less stable. In order to reduce these risks, you need to read the recommended tips from the roof rack manufacturers. Since conditions can vary, all manufacturers recommend adapting the driving speed as you go.
Are all roof racks the same?
Not all roof racks are the same. They are made for different purposes. They are also made with different materials. The best roof racks come with a lifetime warranty for any manufacturing defects.
What tools do I need to install a roof rack?
There are no required tools to install a roof rack. You can do this with rubber straps and you can install a roof rack in minutes. Older designs might require fitting bolts and screws, but they are rare today.
What tools do I need to install roof rails?
Generally speaking, you need multiple tools to install roof rails. Since the process takes longer, you also need to access a large selection of tools to install the rails properly. These tools include but are not limited to: screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, T-30 Torx driver, file, drill, 3mm, and 10mm drill bits, pushpins, jigsaws or plastic trim tools.
Which roof rails do I need for an SUV?
Most SUVs come with roof rails as standard. You do not need to install roof rails on most modern SUVs and you can proceed to look for a roof rack.
I have a small car, can I fit roof rails on it?
Generally speaking, you can fit roof rails on any type of car regardless of its size. If you have a plain roof, you can even consider choosing crossbars with a door-mount design.
Can I fit roof rails on a car under warranty?
Generally speaking, you cannot fit roof rails on a car under warranty yourself. In order to be on the safe side, you will need to ask your dealer if you can install the rails or if they can be installed by a professional for you while the car is under warranty.
Does the shape of the roof rack influence car performance?
The mileage is affected by the added roof rack. Depending on the size of the car roof rack, you will find that you cannot drive with the same speeds on the highway as normal for safety purposes. There are options that claim to be more aerodynamic and thus better for fuel economy.
Roof rail installation
Once your roof rails have arrived, you can proceed to install them if your car comes with the rubber roof strips. These strips are popular with many SUVs but they can be seen on smaller cars as well. The main purpose of the installation procedure is to replace the rubber or plastic strips that come as standard on your car with the roof rails you purchase separately.
Remove the rubber strips on the roof
Removing the rubber strips on the roof should not be complicated. For most cars, this can be done by hand. Vertical pulling movements are required to raise a part of the strips which then allows you to easily remove the entire strip off the roof. When the entire strip is lifted, you will then proceed to remove it by pulling it towards the front of the car.
Remove the rear hinge bracket
One of the parts that will remain on the roof is the rear hinge bracket, especially on larger cars which come with such designs. This bracket can also be easily removed, but you will need extra force to do so. You first need to open the trunk of your car to allow the bracket to slide out unobstructed. Even if you need to add force, you don’t want to break the bracket. This is why you can use a rubber mallet for this operation.
Modify the hinge bracket
The hinge bracket will go back on the roof of the car. However, it also needs to create the space for the roof rail installation. This means that you will need to cut it into a rectangular shape. For this operation, you will use a jigsaw. You don’t need to mark the bracket for the cuts as the marks are already made by the manufacturer. To see them, you will need to flip the bracket. The cut doesn’t need to be professional as the bracket will be covered by the roof rails at the end.
Modify the roof rubber strips
The roof rubber or plastic strips that you have removed on Step 1 also need to be modified. Since you don’t need them to be as long as they are, you need to shorten them. The length required is noted in the roof rail pack. An example length would be 17.5 inches which are standard for larger vehicles. Once you measure and mark the length of the strip, you can proceed to cut it using the same jigsaw.
Install the trim piece
Installing the shortened trim piece on the roof of the car is the next step. You can begin at the front of the car. The trim piece which is made from plastic in many cases slides from the front and clips into position.
Remove the remaining plastic clips from the roof
There are a total number of 5 clips on most roofs which take rails. At this stage, the first two are covered by the trim piece you put back on at Step 5. The remaining plastic clips can be easily removed using a flat screwdriver.
Reattach the plastic hinge cover
The plastic hinge cover can now be reattached to the back of the rail. You will need to position the cover so that it fixes to two or three (depending on the model) plastic clips. The great part is that the plastic clips can be removed from the roof of the car first and they can be attached to the plastic hinge so that you can place it into position easier.
Install the mounting bracket and roof rail cover
The difficult part is already over. For the next step, you will need to line-up the bolts and drop the mounting bracket into its place. T-40 bolts will be installed to keep it in position. All roof rails come with them included in the pack. 12mm bolts are generally mounted to the old brackets as well. Once they are installed, you can place the roof rail cover into its place. It snaps into position and you can hit it lightly with your hands to snap into position. Some covers are secured with an extra screw. In most cases, it can be a T-15 small screw somewhere towards the inside of the rail’s cover.
Roof rack installation
Installing a roof rack is much simpler compared to installing roof rails. In most cases, you don’t even need tools for this operation. All modern roof racks come pre-assembled. It means that all you have to do is to mount them on the crossbars. To do this, you can follow the next steps:
Place the rack on the crossbar
Most racks come with securing straps or clamps already mounted. You can place the front piece on the crossbar towards the front of the car and the rear piece towards the rear of the car. Make sure that they are centered so there is equal spacing to the edges of the crossbars.
Lock the rack into position
To secure the rack onto the crossbars you will need to tighten the straps it comes with. Most racks come with adjustable straps which are tightened into position by turning a tightening knob.
Test for sturdiness
Since you will be driving at high speed, the wind resistance might change the position of your racks. You want to avoid this situation. This is why it is important to properly tighten the racks and test them out with skis, snowboards or other outdoor equipment.