Can I Go Through a Car Wash With a Roof Rack? Here is an expert recommendations

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When it comes to car maintenance, no one can argue the importance of a car wash. But, it’s even more critical if you use your car off-road where mud and dust cling to your car’s exterior, even to your roof rack.

With this degree of dirt, you might opt for an automatic car washer where heavy cleaning is done. But is it safe to undergo a thorough car wash if a roof rack is installed?

Most car owners and experts recommend avoiding automatic car washers if you have a roof rack on your vehicle. For one, the roller brush can cause damage or unfasten the roof rack significantly if the components are loosened.

Nonetheless, if you are adamant about driving through a car wash, you can choose to remove the racks first. But of course, this also comes with some disadvantages you need to address.

If you want to learn how to safely wash your car with a roof rack, stick around as we dive into this issue.

How Safe Is It To Wash My Car With a Roof Rack? 

A car wash by itself can cause some minor harm to your car due to the chemical interaction of water and metal components.

That’s why it’s not really recommended to wash your car so often. But mechanical damage is aggravated if you go through an automatic washer with aggressive or abrasive equipment.

That being said, it could be unsafe for your roof rack to go through a car wash. The lack of control with the roller brushes and the strips of rags can throw off the entire cleaning process. In addition, your roof rack can get tangled with these materials or sustain some scratches at the end.

On the other hand, a manual car wash is deemed safer for your roof rack. With this operation, you can ensure that the process is gentle enough to unscathed the roof rack.

Can You Take a Roof Rack Through a Car Wash? 

It’s better if you don’t take your car with a roof rack to an automatic washer.

First, the soft strips of rug used in the operation of the washers can roll on the crossbars getting your car stuck in the conveyor.

There's also the possibility of the crossbars getting detached due to the aggressiveness of the cleaning process. And, of course, there’s also the tendency for the exterior paint to strip off.

On the other hand, if you feel as if your car needs to go through an automatic washer, you can still do so even if you have a roof rack.

However, this will require additional precaution. You can either decide to take off the roof rail altogether or ensure that the bolts and knobs are fastened tightly.

But, the first option is often recommended more, so just be prepared to remove the roof rail if necessary.

Should I Take My Car Roof Rack Off Occasionally? 

it is a good thing to take off your roof rack from time to time. First, remove it to clean the crossbars and other components.

Grimes and gunk can get stuck in the crevices of the foot mount. Therefore, the only way to really get rid of them is for you to wash the roof rail with soap and water.

Moreover, if you’re not regularly using the roof rail, it’s also recommended to give it a rest. Having a roof rail without really using it can cause some disadvantages to your car’s performance.

Of course, there’s the height limitation that restricts you from passing through tunnels with a low roof. The aerodynamic drag caused by the addition of the roof rail can also affect fuel consumption.

On the other hand, if you’re constantly using the roof rail, you can just remove it for cleaning and maintenance purposes. It doesn’t make sense to remove it after one use and return it the next day.

If you are still looking for a universal roof rack for your car, check out the MaxxHaul Steel Roof Rack (on amazon).

How To Take Care of Your Roof Rack? 

Taking care of your car should be part of your routine. It’s always helpful if it’s somehow embedded in your DNA.

And if you are keen on keeping your car functional and damage-free for a long time, you may be looking into a vehicle that can go past several generations.

In that sense, taking care of your car encompass maintaining your roof rack.

Although factory roof racks are replaceable, this highly functional accessory can be quite expensive yet very much worth it. Therefore, you may want to stir clear with the idea that you can just replace it easily.

Learn how worth it roof racks are when you click here.

Moreover, roof racks can sustain dents and scratches from heavy loads. So, it’s imperative to check on the components from time to time.

If you want to know how to take good care of your roof rack, you can refer to the following tips.

1. Clean the roof rail with soap and water.

Naturally, if you’ve been out on a ski trip or any outdoor activity, you should clean your car sometime after. With this comes the obligation of cleaning the roof rail.

To do exactly that, take off the components and remove any visible debris stuck in any of its components. Then clean the crossbars with soap and water. Finally, let all the parts dry before assembling and reinstalling them.

2. Lubricate the components regularly.

Don’t forget to lubricate the bolts when you clean the roof rail. This way, you can prevent corrosion which could severely damage the foot mount and crossbars.

3. Ensure that the knobs are tightened correctly.

It’s quite troubling if you drive your car and the roof rail is wobbly. It can fling off your stuff or have the entire rail system flying out of the roof while you’re on the road. The dangers can be unimaginable, so you must ensure that the knobs and fastening system are tight.

4. Do not load items that go beyond the car’s weight limit.

Every car has a weight limit. While most roof rails are not heavy at all, the items loaded on them can cause a significant strain on the crossbars and the car itself. Therefore, make sure you don’t put things that are just way too heavy for the vehicle to transport.

With any car accessories, your goal should be its longevity. Therefore, you have to ensure that additional parts such as the roof rail can last for a long time to truly get the most of your investment.

Final Thoughts 

It’s always good to have your car go through a proper wash. But with the addition of a roof rail, you will have to reconsider the impact of an automatic car wash on the accessory.

Generally, a car wash does not pose any critical harm to the roof rail. You can wash your car on your own or have someone else do it.

But it is the setup in an automatic car wash that could tip off the benefits of a car wash. The mechanical component of the car wash system can cause damage not just to the roof rail but even to your car’s exterior paint.

So, before you head to the nearest car wash, remember how it can affect your car’s roof rail and other accessories.

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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