Roof Racks

Helpful tips for mounting car roof racks

How do you want to use your rack?

When choosing the roof racks that meet your needs, start by considering what you want to carry with them. You don’t need to buy what won’t help you in the first place. If you’re a contractor, you may find the square crossbars to be the right one. You can use it to carry your work equipment. But if you want to carry only a few bikes, you might safely rely on any bars out there.

There’re plenty of square, round, aero, and elliptical bars in the present-day market. The good news is that almost all roof-rack-mounted carriers and accessories will securely fit on them. So you don’t have many issues to deal with. But if you know that what you want to carry may require a unique carrier, it’s much better if you go for the most compatible carrier first before you think about anything else.

Here’re the different types of racks and accessories that you may need:

• Roof-mounted bike racks
• Roof-mounted watersport carriers
• Roof-mounted snowboard carriers and ski
• Roof-mounted cargo baskets, bags, and boxes

As you most likely realize by now, when you want to carry kayaks, bikes, or roof boxes, roof racks will offer you the greatest convenience.

Pick the model

Learn how to choose and install the best car roof rack


Roof Racks terminology and definitions

What elements constitute a roof rack system?

You'll always find only three components:

  • The bar-this part appears across the roof's width
  • The feet- The bar sits on this part
  • A fitting kit- this element is always vehicle specific

How to differentiate a roof "rail" and roof "bars/racks"?

Roof rails are in most instances fitted in the factory. And you'll find them on both sides of the roof, running from front to rear. On the other hand, roof bars are roof rail mounted or clamp mounted. You'll see them across the roof.

Roof rail vs an integrated roof rail

Unlike roof rails, you'll find these other rails are slightly raised and also run front to rear down on each side of the roof. Not only that. If you look at the profile, you'll even notice that there's no gap between the roof and the rail. You will likely find integrated roof rails on the Subaru Legacy/Outback models.

How to determine the right roof rack for your vehicle?

Your car's roof itself is another essential factor that you'll need to consider whenever you want to determine roof rack cargo capacity. Now that most of the setups are vehicle specific, you have to take some care here. Get credible application guides that provide detailed recommendations, from the length of your crossbars to your custom foot packs.

From our experience, you may not have any problems choosing your ideal roof-rack systems. They are many. But you will have limited choices when it comes to the mounting system. Most of the kits are strictly vehicle specific. We have created a fit guide to help make your life easier when you're looking for the perfect rack for your application. However, one thing you need to do to be able to find the mounting kits that offer the best service is to ensure you can differentiate between the diverse roof types before you look up to your vehicle.

In which categories should your vehicle's roof fall? Four. One of them is the naked roof. The others are flat tracks, raised side rails, and a roof rack with crossbars, all of which are usually factory-installed.

Do you know the type of roof rack that will best fit your car?

A single roof rack doesn't fit all cars. Car manufacturers no longer produce the one-fit-it-all racks. As we mentioned earlier, no one now produces vehicles with rain gutters. However, you can use different fitting kits to adjust your roof rack size.

The chance that any roof rack you buy on the market today will serve your needs is high. Racks safely work on approximately 98 percent of vehicles. Nevertheless, you'll still look for specific parts to be able to fit them in your car. Check if your car has rain gutters. If it does, you can breathe easy. Any rain gutter mounted roof rack will help you without any worries. The only thing that you may need to do is change the bar width and foot height.

A few years ago, most people could use the gutter off other vehicles and put them on theirs. But today you may have to ask an expert to tailor-make an appropriate rack for your car. Don't forget that most modern vehicles don't have these features. The vehicles have the bar, "feet", and the "fit kit", which holds the rack's roof on the car. Each kit is vehicle specific, but the feet often fit several types of cars.

Most common roof rack fitment issues to avoid

What does roof mounted fix-point look like?
If you see a recessed, root mounted on your car, which also serves also a fixture point, that’s what we call a roof mounted fix-point. An assortment of materials can seal the threaded hole or metal profile. Some of the things that are commonly used are lift-up covers and plastic plugs.

What about a clamp mount system?
Some modern vehicles no longer have rails or a fixpoint. The designers have taken a deliberate security measure to introduce the fit kit or bracket that clamps the roof bars. These are the clamp mount system.

How will the roof bars get fixed on yet my car lacks the roof rails or fixing points?Most likely, your car has hidden fixing points. Carefully check behind the rubber door seals. Remember, it's normal to find the steel bars slightly curve as you tighten some of your steel clamps.

Are the bars too high above the roof?
In most cases, you'll find bars about 115mm above the roof. But if the designer fixed them to longitudinal roof rails, the bars are approximately 60mm from the rail.

Can I use bars longer than the recommended ones?
You can use the longer bars if you want to add other items, such as a bike rack and roof box. But it's best you call professionals for customized advice.

When installing my rack, do I need tools?
You may never require any special tools. But if you need one for any particular task, check your kit. They must be there.

Can I protect my roof racks from thieves?
If your rack came with a standard security locking device, you are safe. If not, purchase a fastening lug as an accessory.

What amount of weight can you safely carry on my roof racks?
Your owner's manual can give you the most accurate response to this particular question. In general, your roof track cargo capacity largely depends on the strength of your own roof rack. And the size of your cargo box also plays a significant role in this.

Are roof racks noisy?
The right answer is "no". But you can sense a small whistle when your car's aerodynamics is altered. Move the front bar slightly either back or forward to solve this minor irritation.

How long will my roof rack serve me?
From our many years of experience, we can surely tell you that if you take the right care of your rack and your car, you'll enjoy several wonderful years of excellent service. Use the rack consistently and remove it as required to clean it, and you're safe.

Do you think I should remove my racks when they aren't in use?
It's best to leave them on. If you decide otherwise, ensure you consult your installation instructions to avoid any disappointments.

Will rack damage your vehicle?

Your vehicle will not be harmed by a car roof rack. Use, installation, and maintenance are all factors to consider. Improper use, incorrect installation, and negligence are all potential issues. Your vehicle may be damaged if the roof rack is over-torqued, under-torqued, inadequately installed or overloaded. Also, periodically remove and clean your roof and rack for the best results.

However, car roof racks negatively impact a vehicle's fuel efficiency, handling, and performance more than any other vehicle bike rack. This is due to the greater center of gravity and increased surfaces exposed to wind from the front and sides.