How to Choose The Best Roof Racks: A Step by Step Guide

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The roof rack is the most important part of your vehicle when it comes to transporting extra cargo. If you are in the market for a new roof rack, this article will walk you through what to look for and how to choose the best one possible.

What are roof racks?

Rooftop cargo carriers, also known as roof racks or rack systems, are a great way to transport extra items on your vehicles such as bikes and skis. These products attach easily to most types of roofs and can be used on cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, and SUVs.

Question to ask yourself before choosing a roof rack

Before choosing a roof rack, you should ask yourself the following questions.

  • What type of vehicle will I be attaching it to? – Roof racks are compatible with most types of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, and SUVs but is important to check if your car is gonna be compatible with the roof racks you are looking into.
  • What type of loads will I be transporting? – Roof racks are ideal for heavy loads such as skis or bikes but not so great for lighter items like luggage.
  • How often do I plan to use the roof rack? – Roof racks can be used for occasional use or daily trips.
  • Do I need one that is adaptable for different types of vehicles or just my own car? – If you plan on changing vehicles in the future, it might be a good idea to find one that can fit multiple types of roofs.

Types of Roof Racks

Roof rack styles include a variety of choices such as crossbar systems, basket-style carriers, and ski & snowboard carriers. Each type comes with its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before purchasing one.

  • Roof rack bars– Roof rack bars attach to your vehicle’s existing crossbars and come with their own locking system. These roof racks are typically the cheapest and most popular option available but can be less stable if you do not purchase a locking system to go along with them.
  • Roof rack baskets– Roof rack baskets attach directly on top of your vehicle’s existing crossbars and give an attachment point for hanging gear such as luggage bags or even kayaks. They are typically more expensive than bars but can be a good choice if you have heavy loads.
  • Roof rack ski & snowboard carriers- Roof rack skis and snowboards attach to the top of your vehicle’s existing crossbars or roof racks. These types of racks are ideal for people who frequently travel with their gear as they require no additional installation and can be removed easily.
  • Cargo boxes – Cargo boxes are great if you need to transport large amounts of gear. These carriers can hold everything from furniture, luggage bags, duffle bags, and even kayaks. Cargo boxes can be found in both hard and soft styles but will require additional installation on your vehicle’s roof or hitch rack.

What To Consider When Choosing A Roof Rack

If you are in the market for a new roof rack, there are several factors that will be considered before making your final decision.

  • Price- The price of each type varies based on their different features and capabilities. Bars tend to be the cheapest option while baskets can get fairly expensive depending on what style they come in.
  • Weight- Depending on what you plan to utilize the roof rack for, it is important to consider how much weight each type can handle as some might not be able to transport heavy loads. Bars are typically better suited for lighter items while baskets have a higher load capacity and ski & snowboard carriers can carry more than either of those types.
  • Capacity- The capacity is the total amount of weight that a roof rack system can support. Make sure to consider what you will be transporting with your new roof racks as this information may influence which type you choose for your next purchase. Bars are typically suited for light loads while baskets have higher load capacities and ski & snowboard carriers are best for heavy loads.
  • Type of vehicle– It is important to consider what type of car or truck you will be attaching the roof racks on before making your purchase. Different types are compatible with different roofs and it would be a waste if you spent all that money only to find out they don’t work well together. Bars, baskets, and ski & snowboard carriers are compatible with most types of roofs but it still is worth checking before making your purchase.
  • Installation– If you plan on installing the roof rack by yourself, it is important to consider how difficult that process will be. Some bars come preassembled while others require assembly and baskets typically need more parts than bars for installation so they can attach directly on top of your vehicle’s crossbars.
  • Durability- You will want to consider how durable each type of roof rack is and what materials they are made out of. Bars typically come in either aluminum or steel with the latter being more expensive but also stronger than its counterpart. Baskets tend to be constructed from either metal, plastic, carbon fiber, or a combination of all three while ski & snowboard carriers are typically made from either metal or plastic.
  • Lifetime warranty– A good quality roof rack will come with a lifetime warranty but it is important to read all fine print before making any final decisions as certain restrictions and limitations may apply depending on the terms of the agreement. The length of time that you have to file a claim for your roof rack will vary depending on the warranty provider. It is always a good idea to check if there are any fees associated with filing your claim before making your final decision.
  • Roof Rack Systems- As previously mentioned, roof racks can be made up of bars or baskets that attach directly onto existing crossbars but some systems come preassembled which means installation is a breeze. Some roof racks are compatible with certain vehicles while others will only work on select ones so it is important to read the warranty and compatibility information carefully before making your purchase.
  • Style- Depending on the style and look you want to achieve, a different type of roof rack may be best for your vehicle. Bars tend to give off a more rugged appearance while baskets have a sleeker, elegant design that can make your vehicle look more sporty. Ski & snowboard carriers typically give off a sportier appearance than bars or baskets while basket styles vary in their design choices as well.

Roof Racks Material

Roof racks can be made from a variety of materials and it is important to consider which one will work the best for your needs

  • Aluminum – Aluminum is lightweight and corrosion resistant making it a good choice for those who want to reduce the weight of their roof rack system or live in an area with a lot of rain and snow.
  • Carbon fiber – Carbon fiber is thinner than aluminum but it is also stronger and lighter so they typically come with a higher price tag.
  • Steel – Steel is very strong but it may be heavier than other types of roof racks so you will need to consider whether or not you want a steel rack before making your purchase.
  • Plastic – Plastic is the least expensive material for roof racks but it also tends to be the least durable.

Tips to Remember

  • Roof racks are a great way to transport extra luggage or to store your skis and snowboards.
  • Different types of roof racks are compatible with different roofs so it is important to check before making your purchase.
  • When purchasing a roof rack, consider the different types of materials that are available and which one will work best for you.
  • A good quality roof rack will come with a warranty but it is important to read all fine print before making any final decisions.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid roof racks that do not come with a warranty to protect your investment.
  • If you plan on driving in areas where there is snow or rain, it may be a good idea to invest in a roof rack that is corrosion resistant.
  • Avoid purchasing an expensive roof rack if you do not plan on actually carrying luggage or skis and snowboards as it will be a waste of money.
  • Avoid roof racks that do not fit your vehicle properly.

FAQ’s

Q. How do I know if my vehicle is compatible with a roof rack?

A. You can find out if your car or truck is compatible by checking the compatibility guide for your vehicle on the manufacturer’s website.

Q. What materials are available for roof racks?

A. You can choose from aluminum, carbon fiber, steel, and plastic when it comes to roof racks.

Q. What should I consider when purchasing a roof rack?

A. Some things to think about include style, the material that you want, the warranty that comes with it, and whether or not your vehicle is compatible.

Q. What is an extruded aluminum rack?

A. An aluminum roof rack is a type of rack in which the bars are not hollow, but instead, they have been forced through a mold so they can be manufactured in one solid piece.

Q. What is a square cross-bar rack?

A. A square cross-bar roof rack is an aluminum roof rack in which the bars are shaped like a square.

Q. What is an aerodynamic rack?

A. An aerodynamic roof rack is one that is designed to reduce drag and noise while driving.

Q. What is a basket-style rack?

A. A basket-style roof rack is one that is shaped like a basket and designed to hold cargo.

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