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Top 5 Roof Rack Safety Tips You Must Know

by Emma Willson

In this pandemic time, traveling by private vehicle is the safest way. But often, you may not be able to pack all your luggage in the vehicle trunk. And, keeping bags and suitcases in the leg space is not a good idea. Mostly, people do not feel comfortable and might not enjoy the journey. So, it is the right time to get a roof rack installed on your vehicle. 


And, for those who prefer long-rides in the car or going on adventure trips, the roof racks are a must-have accessory. With these, you could carry your kayaks, rafts, bikes, skis, etc. The next thing is how to utilize them efficiently and safely. We discuss it in detail below.  


  1. Choose a suitable product and install properly:

There are different types of roof accessories. Some cars, especially the SUVs, come with attached rails on the roof. The manufactures also provide fit kits that you could attach while packing the luggage. But these are standard types, and you cannot customize them. When you have specific needs like carrying a large boat on the vehicle roof, it is advisable to go for aftermarket racks. There are many varieties available like rails, crossbars, kayak racks, roof boxes. The box type is fully enclosed, and it limits the luggage quantity. 

One can also buy roof rack cage that gives a flatbed for the gear with tie options, thus preventing the car roof from scratches and the luggage from falling. 

Once you decide the rack type and find a suitable size, it is time for fitting it correctly. You could get it fixed while buying. If you do not attach tightly, you might lose the luggage, and at times due to wind speed, the rack bars might rip apart too. If you prefer not to have the rack when not in use, read the instructions carefully before uninstalling it.


2. Do not overload:

It is not a wise thing to overload the car boot and the roof rack. If the car’s weight limit and that of the roofing system varies, one has to choose the minimum of the two. Overloading causes structural damages and also reduces fuel mileage. In the long term, it could affect the stability of the vehicle. Also, one has to remember that it will take more time to stop the car with extra weight. Therefore, you will have to increase the minimum safe distance on the road. One could consider adjusting the tire pressure as per the weight added. 


3. Distribute the weight equally:

While packing the luggage on the roof rack and in the car boot space, we have to keep in mind that concentrating weight on a particular side disturbs the vehicle’s equilibrium. It could cause tilting and even toppling as you take a sharp turn. Similarly, keeping heavy stuff at the front and back portion of the roof affects the steering and brake system. Uniform spread of weight and tying the bags as a single unit prevents shifting, and one can have a smooth ride.


4. Tying the luggage:

Imagine packing all the things required for the trip, keeping expensive ones in the trunk, mounting other luggage on the roof rack, and missing them on the highway. It often happens due to incorrect tying methods such as loosened knots. 

You could use ratchet or cam straps. These are tie-down type and pull the weight downwards. It could counter the lift of the center of gravity and make driving easy. It is suitable for people who are not good at tying knots. You could use bungee cords or ropes, but they may not prevent the moving of the luggage. They are best for providing additional support. With the use of cargo net and weather-proof tarps, one need not worry about luggage falls. It is advisable to stop once in a while and check the items on the rooftop. One also has to consider the height of the luggage on the top. It should be below the maximum clearance level at underpasses, tunnels, bridges, and parking areas. You might have to pay a fine for crossing the permissible height. 


5. Roof rack maintenance:

You need not keep your roof rack mounted on the vehicle all the time. But installing and uninstalling should be easy for you. Ensure that you do not have the roof racks during car wash. You need to take them off and clean them separately. It is advisable to check the rails and clampings once a month as they are exposed to dust, moisture, and pollution. Remove the worn-down parts, and lubricate the fittings. Do not use the roof rack if it is not in good condition. Give a quick shake test to see if the fixtures are tight.


In Conclusion

When you often run out of luggage space while traveling, going for roof racks is the obvious solution. But one has to distribute the weight equally and understand that overloading the roof could be dangerous. It shifts the center of gravity, and the vehicle might topple easily. So, be careful while turning, overtaking, etc. Always get help while loading and unloading your luggage on the roof rack. There are good chances of getting hurt. Install a carrier and make the required arrangements for equipment like a large boat. Use accessories like lock cylinders, cable locks, etc., and secure the roof rack as you leave the vehicle unattended. 


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