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When Buying Roof Racks

There are so many options these days when it comes to selecting the appropriate bars for your car. If your car is fitted with side rails, you will need roof racks that are designed to be fitted to factory rails. For rails that are slightly raised and have a gap between them and the roof of the car, you will have to choose between the type of “Rail Bars” that sit between the rails, clamping on along the inside of the rail, and don’t raise the profile of the car by more than a few millimetres, and the type that sit on top of the rails and clamp on from above.

If you don’t have rails and your car is fairly new, it my have what are known as factory fixed points. These are an integral part of the car’s design that allow roof racks to be fitted at specific points.

Some cars built within the last 10 years will have a set of tracks fitted to the roof. These allow for the roof bars to be fitted and slid to almost any desired location on the roof.

Some older cars will have actual rain gutters, and you will need the type of racks that clamp onto the gutter. If your car is a reasonably late model car that doesn’t have any of these options then you may well need to get the type of roof rack that basically clamps to the car roof via metal straps that are fitted inside the doors.

When buying a set of racks for your car there are certain things you will need to consider, to ensure that you buy the solution that is best for you. First consideration would be, “What do you intend to carry up there?”

Secondly but of equal importance is the weights you intend to carry and what the legal implications of that can be. All cars have a roof load limit that includes the weight of the roof racks.

Before you go ahead and buy your roof bars it would be a good move to discuss your requirements with a qualified roof rack specialist to be sure that the roof rack you buy meets the vehicle’s manufacturer specification and the vehicle’s load rating. It.s also worth noting that the official roof load limits are designated for on road use. If you are going off road then you need to divide the load limit by 1.5 which means a 50kg limit is dropped to 33kg.

Safety and Handling have to be your next consideration, as any extra weight above the centre line of the car will have some detrimental effects on how the car handles. You may not notice it at first, but you’ll definitely notice it under emergency braking…

Whilst there are some downsides to using roof racks, the upsides far out weigh them. As long as you take some extra precautions before you travel, everything will be fine. First and foremost, DO NOT try to carry more than the specified weight on your roof racks. Make sure that you distribute the weight evenly across the bars, paying particular attention to the placement of the heaviest items, keeping them as close as possible to the centre of the car.