Do Roof Racks Damage Your Car?

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If you’re into outdoor sports and activities like kayaking, cycling, and skiing, you’re probably planning to install a roof rack on your car. After all, large sports equipment and multiple cargoes can only take so much space inside any vehicle.

The additional hauling capacity brought about by a roof rack has long-term benefits. But you may wonder if there’s a chance that the roof rack can harm your car.

Roof racks do not cause damage, whether it’s substantial or minor, to your car. However, you should drive more carefully when carrying items loaded in your roof rack. Also, the installation process has to be precise and properly executed. Any mishaps during the event can increase the risk of harm in your car.

Nevertheless, the addition of the roof rack is not a safety concern per se.

It still boils down to your consciousness as a driver and sense of responsibility as a car owner.

Part of this deal is understanding the roof rack’s impact on your car - both the good and the potential trouble.

Find more about the bearing of a car roof rack as you read on.

Why Would You Need a Roof Rack on a Vehicle?

There are some car accessories you like, and there are those you truly need. A roof rack falls under the latter.

However, not all vehicles have built-in roof racks. In most cases, you will have to install one yourself.

SUVs and midsize vehicles often have rails where you can attach the crossbars and roof baskets.

On the other hand, smaller cars like sedans usually have a bare roof. Sometimes they come with side gutters where you can fasten the towers of the roof rack.

With that, installing a roof rack is often deemed optional. But those who chose to put up a roof rack on their car for whatever purpose it may serve can attest to the benefits of the accessory.

Here are some of the benefits you can get from having a roof rack on your car.

1. It increases the hauling capacity

If you regularly go kayaking, skiing, surfing, or snowboarding in the winter, you would want all your equipment and gear in the same vehicle.

And in most cases, the only way to secure that is if you have a roof rack in your car. This way, longer items like a canoe or a surfboard can be easily transported without falling off the vehicle.

Likewise, if you are going for a long trip, a roof rack ensures that all your bags and luggage are secured.

2. It adds more value to your car

It is generally understood that adding a roof rack increases the resale value of your car. The additional cargo space boosts the appeal and function of the vehicle. This increase even grows twice with SUVs and cars used for outdoor activities.

3. It helps in the structural integrity of the vehicle.

The added weight of the roof racks supports the car’s structural integrity. As a result, its contact on the ground increases. This is particularly important when driving offroad. As a result, the grip improves, and you get to go with fewer bumps.

4. It increases the legroom inside the car.

Now that the load is transferred to the roof, you can expect more space inside the car. You don’t have to shove lengthy items under the seat, which takes up your legroom.

Not only will you be able to carry your sporting equipment, but you also get to travel to your destination comfortably.

Are Roof Racks Bad for Cars?

Under normal circumstances, roof racks are never wrong for any cars. But if it is incorrectly installed, it might cause more harm than good.

One common mistake in roof rack installation is choosing a rack without finding out if it’s compatible with the car. While universal roof racks are still viable and functional, it is still best to choose a roof rack designed for your car.

For example, if you have a 2019 Toyota Highlander, you should buy a roof rack system constructed for its roof types and design.

Also, if you install a roof rack that takes so much from the weight limit of the entire car, the whole system will become futile in the long run. With that, you have to consider the types of items you load on your roof racks as well.

Moreover, when your roof rack is already installed, you need to be completely mindful of driving through spaces with low vertical clearance. Otherwise, your car and whatever equipment you have on the rack could sustain some damage if you hit some roof.

If you have a truck, check out the ten best roof racks for pickup trucks to get the information you need.

Will a Roof Rack Scratch My Car?

A standard factory roof rack comes with components that protect your car from minor scratches that damage the paint or the roof altogether.

You will observe that pads are attached to the fit kits to create a sort of protective buffer between the roof’s surface and the clamp.

Likewise, the crossbars are installed with adequate space from the surface. Those with direct contact with the roof also come with padding for added protection.

What To Consider When Driving a Car With a Roof Rack

It’s not the same when you drive a car with a loaded roof rack as when driving with nothing on the roof.

For one, the added weight could affect your performance. The dragging force can impact your mileage and, by extension, your car’s fuel efficiency.

But aside from the standard safety precautions on the road, you have to consider the following tips when driving a car with a roof rack.

1. Regulate your speed.

It makes no sense to drive at high speed when you have items on the roof rack. This could significantly damage the car and disengage the loads on the rack.

Depending on how heavy the load is, the car itself will most likely have to take the slow lane anyway.

But of course, you still have more control over the speed. Therefore, it is still up to you to protect your vehicle by driving safely on the road.

2. Be more attentive with the bumps.

Even without a roof rack, bumps are already unpleasant to pass through. However, if you have a roof rack with items on it, you opt to be more aware of the bumps on the road, especially on rough terrain.

3. Watch out for low vertical clearances.

When you have a roof rack, it’s tempting to stack items on it, especially if you’re going for a long trip. If that’s the case, you need to watch out for vertical clearances in tunnels and other low spaces. Otherwise, you might end up getting stuck or bumping into the low-hanging ceiling.

Final Thoughts

It’s very unlikely that a roof rack can damage your car unless, of course, it is installed haphazardly.

That is why it is imperative to stick to the manufacturer’s instructions and go for roof racks specifically designed for your car’s model, make, and year.

Following these critical steps will ensure that the roof rack sits perfectly on the roof, and your car won’t sustain any scratches or damage from an unstable rack.

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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