Roof racks are a great way to carry extra gear; however, when it comes to carrying equipment on the roof, or any loads for that matter, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way can lead to damage to your vehicle, unnecessary fuel consumption, and can create unsafe conditions for yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
In many states you are legally responsible for your loads being safely secured, so follow the following tips from Rhino-Rack to ensure a drama free trip.
- Three points. As a general rule, your rooftop loads should have three to four tie-down points on the vehicle to avoid shifting.
- Overhang. Avoid too much unnecessary overhang at the front of your vehicle as the wind can rip the roof racks right off your car.
- Check load. Always check your load at regular intervals, pushing and pulling on the load in every direction to ensure it is snug and has not loosened during the drive.
- Adjust speed. Loading your rooftop with weight changes the dynamics of your vehicle so adjust your speed to avoid “lift”, to counter the new higher center of gravity, and to ensure your vehicle will stop in time when braking.
- Clearances. Take note of overhead clearances, such as in underground parking garages, it is surprisingly easy to forget, and will result in a bitter end to your weekend adventure. One idea is to put a post-it on your window screen with an arrow pointing up.
- No Bumper. Avoid attaching the loads to your bumper, it can rip it right off!
- Weight limits. Make sure your rooftop load isn’t too heavy, your vehicle and roof racks will have a maximum carrying weight, which is always determined by the vehicle manufacturer.
- Use Straps. Tie Down straps are best, bungee cords are a no go as they allow objects to shift. Ratchet or rapid locking straps are a variation of tie down straps and are easy to use and allow you to create tension easily.
- Flag. If there is an overhang at the rear of the vehicle, then attach a red flag to the load to bring people's attention to it to avoid accidents with cars and pedestrians.
- Special carriers. Special items, such as recreation equipment, require special rack attachments (e.g. kayaks, bikes, and boats).