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Roof rack installation
What are roof racks?
We never seem to have enough room for all our stuff. Even when it comes to our cars. There are times when we need to transport something that is just too big to fit in the car and if we decide to take up a leisure activity like cycling, kayaking, camping, fishing or skiing, there is all that gear to consider.
What do we do with it? It goes up.
If it doesn’t fit inside the car, and you don’t need to go all out and buy a trailer, you can just throw it up top. But unlike those people we see with a mattress on the roof secured down by an arm out of each window, there is a much more dependable solution: roof racks.
Roof racks are a set of bars that are secured to the roof of a vehicle and are designed to carry bulky items or to fasten containers. They come in different designs and can come in varying weights and strengths. Some offer accessories to assist in loading. Some roof racks are a permanent fixture to the car and others may be removable.
The type of roof construction on your vehicle will determine what type of roof rack options are available to you. Unfortunately, the rack you want may not fit your car. If you don’t have the type of roof required for the desired roof rack, factory look-alike tracks could be installed, however this can be an expensive option.
The various roof designs are:
Factory/optional crossbars: Crossbars and side rails pre-installed by the dealership
Tracks: Metal channels, slots or tracks, running parallel to the doors installed factory or aftermarket
Rain gutters: a metal ridge that runs along the top of the doors. Usually found on older vehicles without roof gutters
Flush side rails: Two rails that run parallel to the doors that sit flat against the roof
Fixed mounting points: Attachment points (lugs, screw holes) that may be hidden on flush rails or rail roofs
Raised side rails: Raised rails that run parallel to doors with space between roof and rail
Bare roof: Roof with no attachment points and no gutters
Types of roof racks
There are plenty of roof rack options and some of the more known brands are Prorack, Thule, Whispbar, Yakima and Rhino-rack. Make sure you stick to a brand with a good reputation for producing quality products. You don’t want all your gear flying off the roof of the car. Here are some of the roof racks available:
Gutter mount: For older vehicles with rain gutters. Offers good load limits and ease of use
Door mount: Clamp directly on the door frame. Means there is direct contact with paint and has a lower load limit. Used on vehicles that have no other rack options
Fixed point: Fixed to factory points in the roof. Neat and tidy but no option to move the rails and offers a medium load limit
Raised roof rail: Attach to raised side rails. A good load limit and the rails can be moved
Solid rail: Attach to factory raised rail. Offers a tidy low profile
Within the types of roof racks, there are also different styles. Brands will spruik bountiful selling features from the quietest, sleekest, least resistant, sportiest and the least or most overhang. Pick which suits you and your requirements and make sure the load limit and ease of use works for you.
If you have an unusual vehicle that doesn’t have a roof designed for roof racks, or the rack options don’t work for you, there is the option of installing permanently fixed roof racks. Make sure you really need them as this does require drilling into the roof of the vehicle.
Reasons for installing roof racks
The answer for why you might want to install roof racks is simple: storage.
Camping equipment, luggage, bicycles, bulky items that might be a bit of a squeeze to get into the car itself . . . you can, with the right set up, cart almost anything on the roof of your car and save yourself and your passengers from a cramped and uncomfortable cabin experience. Items you might want to carry include:
- Roof box/luggage box
- Bike rack
- Fishing rods
Who installs roof racks
Most roof rack suppliers will be able to install on site. However if they don't offer that service they should be able to supply a list of installers where the job can be done. There are also mobile roof rack fitting businesses offering the convenience of installation at home or the office in most metropolitan areas.
Things to consider
- Roof racks and items carried on roof racks will increase wind resistance and fuel consumption
- There is a good chance that roof racks will produce some noise when driving on the highway
- There are limits to the size and weight of roof rack loads. Make sure to check regulations and vehicle manufacturer’ specifications.
- Can the roof racks be locked so no one can steal them?
- Are they able to be removed?
- Do they come with a warranty?
Not after a roof rack install?
No worries. AutoGuru can help you with nearly anything your car needs! From basic services to major repairs, we can get you super quick, fixed price quotes from awesome, high-quality local mechanics. The best bit is that you can do it all online, from searching to booking. It’s easy!
We’re out to take the stress and hassle away from car maintenance, so let us help you find your next forever mechanic.