Pros and cons of roof racks

When you’re struggling with space in your vehicle, the best solution is to get a roof rack. It allows you to have extra carrying space for long, tall, or large pieces that wouldn’t otherwise fit in the cabin of your car. 

Instead of having to compromise on passenger space, a roof rack allows you to easily transport bulky items, which frees up head and legroom for your travel companions. Not only that, but it also protects the interior of your car from potential damage. 

But with positives, come negatives. Are roof racks really harmless for your vehicle? Let’s explore the pros and cons of having a roof rack and how it can impact your vehicle, driving, and wallet.

Do roof racks damage vehicles?

As long as you have installed the right size and style to suit your car, roof racks are perfectly safe to use. However, it is still possible for them to cause some damage to your car. This could happen if your roof racks aren’t installed correctly, have a loose fitting, or they’re carrying an excessive load. If your roof racks have been installed properly, they shouldn’t cause any damage.

3 benefits of roof racks

  1. Valuable storage space

Roof racks are a great solution if you need more storage space, especially when you’re going on a longer road tris. A variation of the roof rack is a roof box, which provides lockable and weatherproof storage to protect your items. Transporting large items on the roof of your vehicle means a more spacious and comfortable ride for your passengers. 

  1. Enhance your vehicle’s look and visibility

Most roof racks are available in different colours and some come with additional features such as LED lights and protective nets. With these added features, you can increase your vehicle’s visibility at night or in low-visibility conditions. 

  1. They’re a long-lasting investment

Roof racks are made from solid materials such as aluminium, steel, or quality polymers. Due to their excellent structure, they can last for a long time with excellent performance. They even remain strong under extreme weather conditions.

3 disadvantages of roof racks

  1. Increase in fuel consumption

With the current rise in fuel prices, it’s likely to be unwelcome news that carrying a heavy load will increase the amount of fuel your vehicle consumes. This is because the extra weight adds extra pressure on the wheels and steering. 

WhichCar TV conducted an experiment that concluded that adding a roof rack and bike carrier attachment to a car required 0.6 litres more fuel per 100km. If you add two full-sized bicycles to the mix, it requires an extra 1.4 litres of fuel for the same 100km. At $3 a litre for 91, this adds around an extra $4.50 per 100km. If you’re driving from Auckland to Wellington, for example, this will add up to an extra $40.

While the roof rack alone increases fuel consumption by a bit, travelling with a full load can also have a significant impact on the overall cost of your journey.

  1. Increase in wind resistance

Roof racks increase the wind resistance of a vehicle when its driving with a full load attached to the bars, impacting your fuel economy. This will also result in a noisier journey, especially on high-speed roads. 

While there are aerodynamic varieties of roof racks available, the reduction in wind resistance is often minimal. 

  1. They can be heavy for smaller vehicles

Even though most modern roof racks are made of lightweight alloys, some are constructed from heavier metals like steel. This adds extra weight to the vehicle, aside from the load it’s carrying. This weight will affect your driving and can add movement to the steering wheel of a smaller cas, so you’ll have to drive with extra caution. Also note that a loaded roof rack will catch strong cross winds.