How will a Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

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How will a Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

First published on: December 25, 2023

Adding a roof rack to your vehicle can greatly increase its utility, creating extra space for luggage, sporting equipment, or even bulky items that wouldn’t fit in the boot. However, you might be wondering about the potential impact it could have on your vehicle’s performance, fuel efficiency and even safety.

In this guide, we intend to pull back the curtain on this topic, providing you with comprehensive insights into the effects a roof rack can have on your vehicle. At the end of this guide, we’ll also share our opinion and recommendation on whether or not a roof rack is a worthwhile addition to your car.

So stay with us and let’s dive in!

How will a Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

Undeniably, a roof rack offers the appeal of added convenience and additional storage for those who require it. However, our primary focus here is to enlighten you on the consequential impact it may have on your vehicle.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the possible effects a roof rack can have on your car.

Handling and Stability

The addition of a roof rack to your vehicle can result in noticeable changes to its handling and stability. This alteration is primarily driven by the shift in the centre of gravity upwards, which can make your car feel different when you’re manoeuvring it, particularly at high speed or when navigating corners.

Consequently, you might find that your vehicle leans more than you’re used to, which can take some getting accustomed to.

Moreover, heavy loads on the roof rack can exacerbate this effect. The heavier the load, the higher the centre of gravity moves, which can potentially make the car unstable, especially when driving at higher speeds or in windy conditions.

Also Read: Good First Cars for 17 Year Olds

Impact on Fuel Economy

It’s a fairly understandable concept when we look at the laws of aerodynamics. Normally, your car is designed to be as sleek and streamlined as possible to cut through the air with minimal resistance.

When you add a roof rack, and especially if you load it up, you’re essentially presenting a larger obstacle to the wind. This increased wind resistance, often referred to as drag, means your car has to work harder, and therefore use more fuel, to maintain the same speed.

The impact on fuel consumption can be quite noticeable, especially at motorway speeds. A roof rack, even when it’s empty, can decrease fuel efficiency.

When fully loaded, the impact on fuel economy can be more significant.

The reason we aren’t providing you with figures on the impact is that the actual effect on your fuel consumption will depend on various factors, such as the shape and size of the roof rack, the weight and aerodynamics of the load, the speed at which you’re travelling, and even the wind conditions.

But we’ll say this: If you’re using a roof rack for long trips or have heavy loads, it’s something to be mindful of.

For those curious about the figures/statistics, you can get a rough estimation, although we must reiterate that it varies based on the aforementioned factors.

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Vehicle’s Performance

One cannot deny that adding a roof rack, and subsequently loading it up, will add weight to your vehicle. This additional weight can have a tangible effect on how your vehicle performs in certain scenarios.

Acceleration might be the first area you notice a difference. Simply put, the more weight a vehicle carries, the more power it needs to get moving.

Consequently, you might find your car somewhat less sprightly when pulling away from a stop with a loaded roof rack, as it has to work harder to overcome the extra weight.

Braking performance can also be affected. Greater mass means greater inertia, so your vehicle will require more distance to come to a complete stop when it’s carrying a load on the roof. Thus, it’s highly recommended to adjust your driving style, allowing for longer stopping distances and a more considered approach to speed.

Lastly, the overall strain on your vehicle’s engine and transmission is something to consider, particularly on long journeys or when travelling up steep inclines. The added weight of the roof rack and its load can put more stress on these components, potentially shortening their lifespan.

Also Read: What will Help You to Keep Your Car Secure?

Could Depreciate Your Vehicle’s Value

While a roof rack is undoubtedly a practical addition for the right person, it’s worthwhile to consider how it might contribute to the depreciation of your vehicle’s value.

Here’s why:

  • A roof rack is a visual modification/alteration, and some people might not like the look.
  • The added weight can negatively impact fuel consumption and performance, which might affect your vehicle’s desirability to potential buyers.
  • If you regularly use it for heavy loads, then scratches or wear on the roof from loading/unloading could decrease its aesthetic appeal.
  • Not every car buyer needs or wants a roof rack, so fitting one could limit the potential interested parties in the future.
  • If not properly installed or removed, it can cause cosmetic damage to your vehicle’s paintwork.
  • Some buyers will see a roof rack as an indication that the vehicle has been used for heavy-duty work, which might turn them away.
  • Loading large or heavy items onto the roof rack can sometimes cause dents or damage to your car’s roof, further decreasing its value.
  • In rare cases, some insurance companies might charge higher premiums if you have a roof rack installed on your vehicle.

A roof rack might fulfil your needs, but it could limit your options when selling your car as not everyone may be interested in buying a car with a roof rack.

Safety Considerations if You Still Prefer a Roof Rack

Safety is a primary concern when it comes to vehicles, and adding a roof rack could potentially compromise this aspect.

Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:

  • Ensure that your vehicle’s weight limit is not exceeded when using a roof rack.
  • Check legal requirements and regulations in your area to ensure that the use of roof racks is permitted.
  • Load the roof rack carefully and evenly, avoiding any sudden shifts in weight.
  • Always fasten the roof rack securely to prevent items from falling off while driving.
  • Regularly check and maintain your roof rack to ensure it’s securely attached to your vehicle.
  • Adjust your driving style, especially in high-speed or windy conditions, when using a loaded roof rack.
  • Avoid sharp turns and manoeuvres when carrying items on your roof rack.
  • Handle items with care when loading and unloading them from your roof rack to prevent damage to your vehicle.
  • Be aware of the added wind resistance and potential impact on driving stability when using a roof rack.
  • Get installed by a professional or follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully if you’re installing the roof rack yourself.
  • Consider the potential effects of a loaded roof rack on your vehicle’s braking performance, acceleration, and engine/transmission strain.

By taking these safety considerations into account, you can minimise the potential risks of using a roof rack and ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.

Our Conclusion

While a roof rack undeniably offers a level of convenience that can make it invaluable for those who frequently transport large or heavy items, it’s crucial to balance this advantage against some of the potential downsides mentioned above.

The effect on your vehicle’s handling, fuel economy, performance and even its value is something that cannot be ignored.

As an alternative to installing a roof rack, it might be worth considering a vehicle with a larger boot space.

Read our comprehensive guide on the 17 Best Cars with Big Boots 2024 to get an insight into these vehicles.

At the same time, we stand ready to make your upgrade to a bigger car a smooth and seamless experience. Sell your car with us today and get the best price at the convenience of your home.

However, if you’re still more inclined towards installing a roof rack due to any reason, then we advise you to do so at your discretion and within recommended safety measures.

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