Roof Racks: 10 Important facts You Need To Know (Explained)

A roof rack is a rack-mounted on the roof of a vehicle with a base and crossbars that allow you to safely store a variety of items and equipment.

Usually, if you have more goods than the space of your vehicle, you may have to invest in a roof rack. These are commonly found in many pickup trucks and SUVs on the market.

The roof rack is very useful for carrying items safely on off-road trips. That’s why these are available as an optional feature when purchasing a vehicle that can go off-road.

Roof racks are designed to handle more loads. However, it has its limitations, and overloading beyond that limit can also lead to road accidents.

It’s a good idea to be aware that many insurance companies will not cover you for accidents if you exceed the recommended limits on your roof rack and vehicle.

Is a roof rack considered a modification?

If you are thinking of installing a roof rack for your vehicle for a camping trip, it may seem like a small change, but it could affect the value of your vehicle as well as its safety.

Adding anything to your vehicle can affect your eligibility for insurance and such changes are technically considered a modification.

Impact on insurance

Installing a roof rack is considered a vehicle modification. These modifications may affect your car insurance. Therefore, you should inform your insurance provider before making such a modification.

If you already have a roof rack installed, you should inform your insurance provider and they may help you find the best insurance plan for your vehicle.

Does a roof rack void warranty?

Adding a roof rack to a new vehicle is considered a modification, and it cannot be determined that such a modification would result in loss of warranty coverage.

But if the roof rack is damaged as a result of installing a roof rack after purchasing your vehicle, the dealer or car manufacturer can refuse to cover the warranty.

If it’s further explained, if the roof of your vehicle starts to rust due to the installation of the roof rack, they can refuse the cover.

Therefore, it’s best to be careful when installing a roof rack on your vehicle. Be sure to install a high-quality roof rack on your vehicle by a skilled engineer.

Do roof racks damage your car handling?

Adding a roof rack to the car and loading certain items onto the roof rack slightly increases the height of the car and adds extra drag.

As the height of your car increases, you may experience some changes in the handling of your car while driving. This is felt on a very small level and you may feel some change in the familiar driving.

Impact of handling on the weight of the roof rack

This may not be the case for lighter items, but any load carried by a car roof rack will have a higher value of the center of gravity of the entire vehicle.

That extra weight has a significant impact on the handling of the vehicle. You will see that the winds blowing from the front and sides can have a greater impact on the handling of the vehicle. While this is not a dangerous or harmful thing, it can certainly be felt when handling a vehicle.

As the extra weight and height of the car increase, you may find that handling and bending are worse. Your driving experience can feel completely different and especially on rough roads.

Will the roof rack scratch my SUV?

A properly fitted roof rack will not scratch or damage your SUV. But how you use the roof rack will determine whether or not your SUV scratches.

If the roof rack is not properly and firmly installed on your SUV, that roof rack can damage your SUV.

It can create a grinding force between the racks, bolts, and nuts mounted on the roof of your vehicle. This can scratch the roof of your vehicle and also affect vehicle stability.

Before installing a roof rack in your car, you should inspect it to make sure all parts are not damaged.

There are also some things to consider when using a roof rack. It is advisable to attach any loose straps or items to the bag or netting to prevent damage to the item from falling and scratching.

You also need to make sure that you are using proper roof racks for your vehicle. Again, it is best to consult your owner’s manual before purchasing one, as installing the wrong type of roof rack, can cause severe damage to your SUV.

Can I go through a car wash with a roof rack?

A roof rack is designed as a structure of several parts such as base and crossbars. Going through an automatic car wash because those parts are there can cause unexpected damage to your roof rack.

A vehicle with a roof rack should not go through an automatic car wash. This is because, as discussed above, there are many parts in your roof rack that can get caught in the accessories of a car wash.

Go through a car wash
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Going through an automatic car wash can damage not only your roof rack but also the accessories in the car wash. Therefore it’s best to remove the roof rack before going through an automatic car wash.

Generally, hand washing is recommended for the safety of your car as well as the roof rack. But even with any routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to remove and clean your roof rack thoroughly.

Is a roof rack removable from a car?

Some people are interested in removing them because they do not use the roof rack and prefer a hollow roof in the vehicle. You will also need to remove the roof racks for cleaning purposes.

It’s mandatory to remove the roof racks before running through a car wash.

The happy thing is aftermarket roof racks are manufactured in such a way that you can easily remove them. You can remove these from your vehicle using a simple tool.

Factory Roof Racks

A factory roof rack can be removed but removing the raised side rails can be a somewhat difficult process. This is because most factory roof racks are designed to be firmly attached to the vehicle via rails.

Complete removal of a factory roof rack will save holes in the roof of the vehicle. These holes should be properly sealed so as not to damage the interior of the vehicle.

Aftermarket Roof Racks

Aftermarket roof racks are usually easier to remove completely. The roof rack can be removed by simply loosening a few bolts on the side rails.

After you have done this once or twice, it only takes about 5-15 minutes to remove most roof racks.

Are all roof racks noisy?

Roof racks are definitely a useful accessory for an SUV or car. But when the vehicle is speeding, the whistling noise caused by the roof rack can be a bit annoying.

The simple answer to the above question is yes, roof racks make noise when the vehicle is speeding. This is because the wind goes through the bar at the top of your car. If the roof rack is a consistent shape, it develops a tone of airflow.

The reason for the change in sound here is the speed of the air on the surface, the shape of the surface. To stop this you will need to disrupt the flow of air to the surface.

If you do not already have a roof rack in your car but are thinking of getting one, you can buy roof racks specially designed to avoid this problem.

But if you already have a roof rack installed, you will want to try the following steps. There are a few different options that can be used to stop roof rack noise.

  • Build your own wind deflector
  • Fit a roof rack wind fairing
  • Use edge bars instead of load bars
  • Pad the crossbars
  • Fit aerodynamic crossbars

Each of these options is very effective, so you do not need to use more than one.

Does a roof rack make you slower?

Roof racks generally contribute to the structural integrity of the car and provide extra rigidity to the roof.

These are generally good for off-road vehicles but it’s a fact that if a large load is placed on the rack or the weight is too high it can have some effect on the speed of the vehicle.

But a roof rack can affect the speed of a vehicle, even when driving without load.

A roof rack slows down the airflow to some extent, thus reducing the maximum speed at which the car can reach.

A roof rack slows down the flow of air to some extent, thus minimizing the maximum speed at which your car can reach.

As a result, wind currents have a greater area of impact and affect the car speed.

Does a roof rack affect fuel economy?

On any highway, you will find many vehicles with roof racks. Some vehicles actually carry things on the roof racks, but most do not carry anything on their roof racks.

Did you know that even an empty roof rack can sometimes increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption?

The average speed is less than 60 miles per hour (100km/ h) and in city traffic, there is practically no loss of fuel when driving with an empty roof rack. But at higher speeds, the average fuel efficiency drops from 5% to 15%.

Loaded roof racks have a huge impact on fuel economy. Driving with roof racks loaded at low speeds shows a 7.5 to 15% reduction in fuel efficiency.

At high speeds of more than 60 mph (100km/h), fuel efficiency is reduced by between 20% and 30%. For trucks, it’s a little less than roughly 12%.

Roof racks make the aerodynamics of any car worse. Increasing the drag coefficient of the vehicle causes the engine to work harder against the wind resistance to achieve the same speed.

This is the reason why the engine’s high efficiency has a huge impact on the fuel economy.

What happens if you put too much weight on a roof rack?

The obvious way to find out if your car’s roof rack is overloaded is to look at your vehicle. You need to check the manual of your vehicle to know the maximum load capacity that can be loaded on the roof rack.

There are several things that can happen if the roof rack is overloaded. They are listed below.

  • Puts pressure on the car tires

Excessive pressure on the tires can cause the tires to overheat and the tires to wear out too quickly.

  • It can be a hindrance to other drivers on the road while driving
  • Disruption of the brakes

The brakes are not expected to work fast when under heavy loads and speed, as a lot of force is required to disengage the brakes. This slows down the braking of the vehicle.

  • The ride is inconvenient and not safe

Overloading your vehicle is not safe at all, as the brakes on your vehicle overheat and put pressure on the tires.

Excessive load on the roof rack of your vehicle can lead to serious legal, performance, and safety issues. Therefore, always try to minimize the amount of weight carried on the roof rack.


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