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Is a Roof Rack Worth It?

Educational  ·  December 22, 2022

Is a Roof Rack Worth It?

Car roof racks offer a handy way of utilising your car's roof for added storage. Most of these accessories mount onto a car's roof rail to keep luggage, bicycles, and other items safe. What about car models without rails on them? Let’s see about your options.

A roof rack is worth the investment if you need more cargo space than what your car’s boot or cabin provides. It’s particularly useful for road trips with many passengers and transporting oversized items like bicycles. In that case, investing in a high-quality roof rack is convenient and totally worth it.

Before buying a roof rack—Thule, Rhino, or any other brand—we suggest that you read this guide first. You’ll learn what roof racks are, how they work, and how to choose the best one for your needs.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Roof Rack, and How Does It Work?

A roof rack is exactly as the name sounds: it’s a rack that sits on top of your car’s roof, providing additional cargo space when you drive.

The rack is mounted securely to ensure its frame doesn’t come off even during rough driving conditions. So, you should invest in models that won’t break or lose your cargo even in the most punishing conditions, like off-roading.

These racks offer a convenient place to store cargo that can’t fit inside your boot or in the back seat for whatever reason. For example, you might be a cyclist who needs to drive your bicycle to the next race. Or you often go on road trips and need a place to keep everyone’s luggage.

Some people even go so far as buy roof racks that allows them to pitch a tent and camp overnight. Overall, a roof rack is a way to use your car’s roof that would otherwise go unused or wasted.

Roof racks mount to your car roof in different ways. Typically, the rack attaches to a vehicle’s roof rail, assuming it has one. 

However, your car may not have a rail, as some vehicles do. If that's the case, don't worry. Plenty of roof rack models also cater to cars with bare or empty roofs.

Can I Install a Roof Rack If My Car Doesn't Have a Roof Rail?

Yes, you can install a roof rack and enjoy its benefits even if your car has no roof rail.

There are two ways you can go about this. Let’s check them out:

  1. Aftermarket roof rail: Firstly, you can purchase an aftermarket roof rail and install it on top of your vehicle. This approach will cost you a bit of money, but the result is that you'll have a roof rail that you can rely on to mount a rack or anything else you might need the rail for.
  2. Racks for bare roofs: Alternatively, you can purchase a roof rack specifically designed for bare roofs. Those are easy to find, and most leading roof rack manufacturers have them available. They attach to your vehicle by clamping onto the door frame without need for any other modifications to it.

The bottom line is very straightforward: No matter what kind of vehicle you drive and whether it has a roof rail or none, you can still find a roof rack that meets your needs. The market for roof racks is pretty wide, and you’ll always find a helpful option.

How Do I Know Which Roof Rack to Buy?

Don’t rush to buy the best and most expensive roof rack, Rhino or other leading brands; instead, take a moment to figure out which product suits your needs best.

Remember that a roof rack is an investment, just like any other modification you pay for on your car. So, taking time to do some homework is well worth it.

Here are the five considerations to help you figure out which roof rack to buy for your car:

1. Purpose

Firstly, think about the purpose that your roof rack will serve. For example, some people need a roof rack to store luggage and other cargo, freeing up their boot space for other things.

However, others need a specialised roof rack to transport their bicycles or to pitch a tent when parked in the great outdoors.

As you can imagine, your purpose for the rack will determine which models are suitable for you.

2. Capacity

Roof racks come with many different capacities, so your second consideration must be about how much stuff you need the rack to hold.

On one hand, you don't want a roof rack with too much excess capacity that you don't need and will never use. On the other hand, you don't want to get a roof rack that's too small to hold your items safely on a long road trip.

3. Ease of Use

Naturally, you’ll also want to choose a roof rack that’s easy to install and use. There’s no point in getting a complicated roof rack system if you’re going to be frustrated every time you use it.

4. Quality

Like any other car accessory you buy, you’ll want to choose your roof rack based on its quality. Your choice is closely related to your budget, as a higher-quality model will come with a heftier price tag.

For most users, a standard-quality roof rack is good enough. However, people who drive in more challenging situations, like off-roaders, will want a more durable rack.

5. Security Features

Lastly, your chosen roof rack should have enough security features to keep your items safe. To reduce the likelihood of theft, choose a roof rack that comes with a lock.

Even if your preferred rack doesn't include a lock, you can always purchase a separate roof rack lock to use with it.

Bottom Line: Is a Roof Rack Worth It?

Overall, a roof rack is worth the money if your onboard cargo space isn’t enough for your needs. Many people have enough car boot space to fit all their luggage. 

You might require careful planning and organising on certain road trips, but you can get more than you think in that small space.

However, oversized items like bicycles will likely require a roof rack if your car is the only way to bring it around.

Shopping for car roof racks and their accessories? Then check out CarpartAU. The Directory will guide you to the car accessory suppliers in your area, and you might even find some deals on used parts in the Marketplace.


By Ray Hasbollah

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