Are Roof Rack Cross Bars Universal?

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Roof racks are used to carry bulky or heavy stuff on top of your vehicle. Cross bars are basically the 2 bars that run across the width of the vehicle so you can load up your bulky belongings on the roof of your car. But if you are looking to buy some replacements for your car you might wonder, are roof rack cross bars universal or if you have to find specific racks for specific car models.

Roof rack cross bars are not universal. Therefore, before you buy one, you should research what kind of cross bars would be suitable for your car. It is important to look at your car configurations as well as the crossbar, to find out the one perfect for your vehicle.

Usually, roof racks themselves have crossbars that you need to separately install. However, if you’re buying a new pair of crossbars, make sure they align with the width and configuration of your car.

Are All Roof Rack Cross Bars Universal?

Roof rack cross bars are mostly bought according to your particular vehicle model and its configurations. It is important to note that, if your crossbars are too small or too large for your particular vehicle type, then you might encounter trouble loading up or carrying your goods to different places.

Cross bars cannot be universal because most car widths, as well as roof styles, vary greatly according to their models and configurations. Therefore, the cross bars have to be adjusted and built based on individual needs.

Are Roof Rack Cross Bars Universal?

Pick The Right Cross Bars for Your Vehicle

The decision to buy roof rack crossbars can be overwhelming. Especially since there are so many choices and many different sizes, shapes according to budget and model. Crossbars are crucial in establishing a stable ground for your roof rack to be on. They also help transfer the pressure down to the wheels of the vehicle.

So, if you do not pick the right pair of crossbars for your vehicle, your vehicle's performance, as well as fuel efficiency, might suffer. Below are a few criteria to be careful about while picking the right pair of crossbars.

Product Support

While choosing the right roof rack cross bar, the most important thing to consider is what kind of goods you need to carry. Depending on heavier or lighter items, you need to pick the right cross bars for your vehicle, adjusting to what your needs are.

Whether you want to load a bicycle, a canoe, a tent, or luggage, the type of crossbars you need will be modified according to the kind of items you want to carry. For heavier items, it is better to consult experienced people in the market to suggest a sturdy pair of crossbars.


Depending on whether you install a pair or more cross bars, your crossbar assembly would align with the number of bars you’re putting up. In most cases, the more crossbars you have, the more products you can carry while riding your vehicle.

Usually, you can assemble the bars both horizontally or vertically depending on which one is more accessible for you.

Weight Capacity

Usually, in-package roof rack cross bars aren’t designed for heavy loads on your car's roof. If your crossbar weight capacity is less than your desired load, it would be ideal to reconsider your cross bars.

Stock crossbars are not always designed to carry heavy luggage or luggage weighing more than 100 pounds. Therefore, if you’re not planning to use your roof rack cross bar for heavy use, stock bars should be fine. However, if you plan to carry heavy items, consider replacing them.

Durability And Material

While choosing the right crossbar for your car, it is crucial to check the product quality so that it doesn’t underperform in the long run. The material used to make the cross bars, as well as how long they will last, need to be considered carefully before buying roof rack cross bars.

Plastic cross bars should be avoided to ensure durability. Usually, metal cross bars are heavier, therefore, a lot of users prefer aluminium cross bars to replace metal ones. Metal cross bars might also get rusty in the future, whereas aluminium cross bars would take a longer time to decay.


The size of the crossbar is important when picking the perfect crossbar for your car. If your roof rack cross bars’ size does not match the width of your car’s roof, then it might create pressure imbalance hampering car performance.

Many people end up buying smaller cross bars, which leads to a bumpy car ride while carrying all the goods on top of the car. Longer cross bars, on the other hand, may cause the car to tilt on either side, especially when you’re driving off-road. Therefore, it is always crucial to be careful of the size of your roof rack cross bars.


Most car enthusiasts and real-life users often suggest that when you’re buying a pair of cross bars for your vehicle roof, you get what you pay for. Therefore, it is always appreciable if you opt for better performing roof rack cross bars so that you don’t hamper your vehicle performance in the long run.

If you’re buying a replica or cheaper product, you may be satisfied with performance initially. But these products truly hamper the vehicle engine if they’re not suited well to your car type. Cheap crossbars mostly end up being inconvenient for your vehicle and eventually, for you.

How Many Cross Bars Do You Need?

Usually, to set up a typical roof rack, you need two cross bars that can go across the vehicle roof. These two bars are called load bars. They help attach the rack on top of the car roof. If you want to set up a roof tent on top of your car, then you need a pair of cross bars that match your particular needs. For example, two crossbars on your car roof should do just fine unless you go camping often.

2 bars are recommended if you’re running low on budget but you urgently need to install cross bars for the roof rack. The two crossbars usually work fine if you’re not carrying a heavy load on your vehicle roof. They’re also helpful if you mostly travel off roads because it is less bumpy if you’re driving with 2 crossbars.

3 cross bars help if you’re putting up tents on your car top and plan on using them often. When it comes to 3 cross bars, the first 2 crossbars usually balance out the pressure on the roof rack. The middle bar usually supports the two bars while driving off-road.

If you’ve been planning on getting your hands on a cross bar for a while, you can check out BRIGHTLINES Aero Cross Bars. Also you can check some other options as well to find out the one that best matches your demands!

How Many Cross Bars Do You Need?

Why You Should Not Install More Than 3 Cross Bars?

If your roof rack has more than 3 cross bars, then the car roof may suffer extensions with time. Usually, 2 crossbars would be enough to support the car given that they are set up properly.

How far 4 cross bars are useful depends on individuals. Some prefer having 4 bars because they balance out the pressure of the load amongst all four wheels. Others prefer 2 bars because they are convenient for off-roading.


It is as important to choose the right cross bars for your car as it is to pick the right car for you. Whether you are going on a solo trip or a family picnic, the cross bars will help you carry all the essentials that can bring fun to the trip.

In most cases, there is no particular kind of universal roof rack cross bars. The bars need to be adjusted according to the size, budget, weight capacity etc. However, it is always better to consider all aspects of cross bars before picking one for you.

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

Hi! I'm Vieira. I've always been interested in different Auto Accessories

My passion here at is to provide helpful straight forward clear advice and tips for Automotive Accessories.

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