Is It Worth Buying Roof Racks

Is it worth buying roof racks for your car?

Is it worth buying roof racks

If you or your partner are being stubborn about the need for a whole lot of stuff to travel with you on your 6 week trip around the country, you may have not choice but to get roof racks installed onto the top of your vehicle.   It’s either that or you buy a bigger car, a Ute or tow a trailer for 6 weeks.

One thing you don’t want to do is overload the inside of your car.  You need to be very careful about what you store inside your vehicle and how you store it.

You don’t want to ever block your views around your vehicle; especially your rear view and you don’t want any unsecured items stowed in your car to become projectiles in the event of an accident.   If you must stow stuff inside your car, you might want to look at using a cargo net or pet barrier to separate you from those items.

In any event, Roof Racks will a great solution up to a certain point as there are limits to how much you can stack on top of your car.   If fact it’s essential that you understand those limits, there are laws in place regarding too, so please do your homework before heading off on your adventure and make sure your roof load is compliant.

For the most part, purchasing and installing roof racks on top of your vehicle will prove to be a brilliant idea.   If you do a fair bit of travelling, camping and find it hard to keep away from the hardware store, then having roof racks will certainly come in handy.

For some situations, just having roof racks will be of great assistance to you and a good example of this is when you’re able to strap down lengths of wood or a ladder onto the top of your car.

When it comes to travelling or camping through, roof racks on their own may not cut the mustard and you might need to look at the additional purchase of rooftop cargo bags and boxes.   I recently wrote about the factors to consider when choosing between them, such as size, shape, weight, capacity, security, durability, weather resistance, aerodynamics, installation and cost. I also gave some tips on how to pack and secure your cargo too.

If you are pretty handy with a tie-down or ratchet straps, roof racks can often be all that you need.

There are many different ways to secure items onto your roof racks depending on the type of rack and the size of the size/shape of the items.

Buy a luggage scale first and weigh your suitcases/bags/items so that you don’t exceed the weight limit of your roof rack/vehicle.

For me, the absolute best way of securing suitcases onto the top of your car is via a Roof Basket.   When it comes to putting luggage, sporting and camping stuff onto the top of your car, I think a roof basket is one of the best things you will ever buy.   They are a strong, secure way and very effective way for you to store your luggage, kayak or tent on top of your car.

Roof Baskets are typically clamped or bolted onto your roof racks, so they are very well secured.   They really open up the roof space for you and give you plenty of spots to secure your items down onto them using tie downs or ratchet straps.

It’s not all beer and skittles having a roof rack and roof basket.

Roof Rack Options

Buying roof racks, a roof basket and putting a load on top of your car does have a couple of drawbacks though, such as:

1.     You will burn more fuel, expect reduced fuel efficiency due to increased aerodynamic drag and weight.

2.    There will be increasing noise from wind resistance.

3.    Be very careful about going into underground parking places with a load on your roof.   If you think there’s even a chance you will do this, be sure to measure the highest point of roof load from the ground as some parking garages have got low-clearance areas and things could get messy.  

I know this might sound silly but please do not forget you have a roof rack, roof basket and load on top of your vehicle when you get home, especially if you are tired.   Believe it or not, some people have attempted to drive into their garage with a load that protruded well beyond the height of the opening and it’s all gone rather badly.  I can only assume that fatigue was the culprit.

So if you’re going to get home late at night after a long day driving, either plan to leave your car outside the garage that night or set reminder or 2 on your phone to remind you that you need to take the load off the top of your car prior to putting it away in the garage.

Your vehicle handling can be affected by loads on top of your car.

too much stuff on the roof

Any loads transported on top of your car will bring about a higher centre of gravity for the entire vehicle. For relatively light-weight and less bulk items or loads, it’s something you may hardly be affected by.   But when you have stowed a certain amount of weight onto the top of your car, you will almost certainly experience a change in the way your vehicle handles and brakes.  Going and around corners and heavy braking situations are where I think the main risks are.

This is something that is certainly worth reading up on before going your journey.

Proper prior preparation is the key; learn about the differences you may experience.   Understanding that your car might sway or lean a bit more around corners before you travel will stick in your mind and you’ll hopefully drive accordingly.   The same with the potential for reduced braking ability, you will need to learn about leaving more room between you and other vehicles.   Increased braking distances due to your roof load will also make it very difficult to wash off speed quickly if a kangaroo decides to spoil your day and jump out in front of you.   It’s better to have this level of knowledge and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

What type of roof racks to buy?

what type of roof rack to buy

The type, make, shape etc will be a personal thing that you will work out.   When it comes to the type of material that they are made of though, I would strongly recommend Aluminium.  It’s light, very strong and has a high level of corrosion resistance.

Another well used material choice for roof racks that comes to mind is 304 Stainless Steel, it will be a little heavier than Aluminium but has strength and corrosion resistance thanks to the roughly 10% nickel and 20% chromium that is used to make it.

There are a few roof rack manufacturers that off fibreglass products too.   Fibreglass is light, durable and has comparable strength of steel, it can withstand a fair amount of impact and will never rust.

You can get Nylon roof racks too, Nylon is a form of plastic and is lightweight, very durable, can withstand plenty of impact, will never rust and can handle the suns rays.  Often when you see very sleek low profile or modular design roof racks on top of cars, they will be of Nylon design.

Some roof rack manufacturers will use a combination of these materials to make their products.   I do remember that one Rhino Roof Rack product I came across used a composite glass reinforced nylon material on the legs of the racks and aluminium on the cross bars.

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