How Will A Roof Rack Affect Your Car? 

You will learn how will a roof rack affect your car in this guide!

In case you use your vehicle to travel a lot, then you must have considered buying a roof rack before. But there are many opinions online regarding how roof racks affect your car which might sway you from your decision. 

Indeed, having a roof rack on your vehicle can be beneficial when you want to move luggage or luxuries. Even at that, some roof racks can look good on a car! 

 However, many negativities come with a roof rack

Roof racks affect your car in many ways whether loaded with equipment or empty, roof racks have a considerable negative impact on your car’s performance. Roof racks affect how you drive your car, and it can get even worse when you’ve got something attached to them, be it a roof box or a bike.

 Note that the roof rack isn’t going to make your car horrible to drive, but its performance will be affected. So in today’s blog, I’ll be talking about how a roof rack affects your car and whether it is worth your investment or not.

What Is A Roof Rack?

To simply, a roof rack happens to be that perfect carrier that allows you to load up your car and carry bulky loads or equipment such as sporting goods, camping gear, or machines. However, it’s vital to always secure your load no matter the type of roof rack you have installed on your vehicle.

What Is A Roof Rack Used For? 

It is used whenever you intend to carry something on your car roof. Note that a roof rack can be safely and easily attached to your vehicle, which can be done yourself in minutes.  

Remember that there’s a roof rack solution that fits every car brand and model. This Roof Rack Guide will be perfect for you to start your adventures with roof racks. All you have to do is just enter your car model, brand, and year, and you’ll get the perfect roof rack solution meant for your car. 

After the roof rack is mounted on your vehicle, it can be used for lots of cargo depending on what you want: 

  • Roof boxes
  • Bike racks
  • Racks for kayaks 
  • Surfboards and SUP boards
  • Winter sport racks

Types of Roof Racks

Before knowing how a roof rack affects your car, or what will a roof rack do to your car, you need to know the types of roof rack. There are different types of roof racks available depending on the type of roof your vehicle has. 

Most vehicles have roof rack options that are temporary, meaning they can be removed anytime. While some are permanent, meaning that they can’t be removed after installation. However, the main roof rack types are:

Naked / Bare Roofs

Many people have the misperception that the plastic strips which run from front-to-back on the roof of lots of modern cars are a rain gutter that can be attached to. Please note that this is not a rain gutter. It is a “Naked Roof” car which is the most common fit solution meant for this kind of roof is a clip fit.

A Clip Fit roof racks stay around the door frame of vehicles and have no pre-installed attachment points. These kinds of vehicles can be described as Naked Roof, also known as Bare Roof.

Note that the second main choice for bare roofs is making its custom installation permanent, which you can use either track or fixed point mounts. It offers greater flexibility in its positioning because these installations are permanent. But can be more expensive than clip fit rack systems.

Side Rails – Flush & Raised

In many SUVs, crossovers, and wagons, you will notice that they are equipped with factory-installed side rails which run front-to-back on the roof. They are normally strong attachment points made to support a roof rack system.

The raised side rails are higher off the roof which means a tower can be fitted around it. Note that many raised rail sizes still exist, but not every tower will fit every side rail.

A flush side rail stays directly against the roof and normally has channel or pin holes so that towers can fit into it. Though this type of side rail is relatively new to the market but is becoming more popular.

Note that the second main choice for bare roofs is making its custom installation permanent, which you can use either track or fixed point mounts. It offers greater flexibility in its positioning because these installations are permanent. But can be more expensive than clip fit rack systems.

Factory Track & Fixed Point

Note that several vehicles come with roof rack mounting points that are built into the roof from the manufacturer; some even come with tracks installed on their roof. What this does is allow for a quick, simple installation of the base towers. So if a roof rack affects your car, getting this type will be ideal.

Rain Gutter Racks

A Rain gutter roof rack tower is attached to the exposed rain gutters which were standard on most cars in the ’80s.

Rain Gutter Racks can also be seen on larger cargo/commercial vans, and some certain Jeep/SUVs. This is because rain gutter racks have been existing for decades. You can buy used options as they are affordable.

Truck Canopy & Camper Tops

Cars that come with canopies or camper tops have two main choices for installing roof racks. One is the artificial side installed rain gutter brackets, which are mounted on the side of the camper/canopy and allow a rain gutter tower to be attached to it.

The next choice is the custom track or fixed point installation on the camper/canopy top. These types of installations are complex, and I don’t recommend car owners to do it themselves. This is because these setups are usually permanent, but you can still find some removable options for campers/canopies. 

Custom Track & Fixed Point Installations

In most cars, you can have fixed mounting points or tracks permanently installed in them. Having a custom track installation will allow you to position your roof rack for increased flexibility and use. Note that these installations take 2-3 hours in some retail shops. So I recommend you to have a permanent custom installation done for you professionally, instead of doing it yourself at home.

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How Do I Choose A Roof Rack?  

how will a roof rack affect your car
how will a roof rack affect your car

To prevent roof racks affect your car, you must know how to choose a roof rack and don’t end up with an empty roof rack. You don’t know how? It’s very easy! First, do you prefer a maximized loading area or a streamlined design? 

There’s one called Thule Evo: This is a highly flexible aerodynamic roof rack system that offers comfort, a maximized loading area, and comes with easy installation of accessories. This is great for transporting large and bulky equipment and leaving roof rack on car look good.

Another one is called Thule Edge: This has a low profile that can perfectly complement any vehicle’s roofline. It has a streamlined design that also makes it an ideal solution for keeping the rack on your vehicle even when not in use. 

So How Will A Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

No matter how a roof rack affects your car, there are reasons why people buy roof racks, and one of them is the ability to have extra storage.

Installing a roof rack to your vehicle will open up another possibility of having a roof box, which you can simply tie things to them. Things like a bike, snowboard, or even fishing rods.

But know that having a roof rack on your car will affect a car’s performance, but only slightly. So here are some of the things to think about before you install a roof rack.

Makes Your Car Slower

Roof racks affect your car depending on the type of car you’re driving and the kind of person you are. A roof rack fitted to your car will cause your car to slow down and this should be a deciding factor between getting some or not.

The reason why your car will become slower is due to its extra weight on your car. Though if it’s just the roof racks, then they’re not too heavy. But since you will be adding a roof box into it and packing it full of luggage, then you could have an extra 100kg weight on your car roof.

Not only that, but you’ll also notice that the roof racks will add extra wind resistance to your car. But if you have a vehicle with reasonable power, then this won’t be a problem. 

Handling & Ride Stability

If you wonder how will a roof rack affect your car, then note that adding roof racks to your vehicle will increase its height which will add extra drag.

For those who ask does a roof rack waste fuel? Yes, it does. Whenever there’s drag while driving, there’s a possibility that you’ll be wasting fuel. Additionally, due to the added weight and drag, you will notice that the handling and cornering are worse.

You may also find that your car is being blown about a lot more in high winds, which will completely change your driving experience. This is how the roof rack affects your car. It will even be more noticeable on a certain vehicle.

Roof Rack Can Result In Detours

When you add things on top of your car will normally increase its overall height, and this is how the roof rack affects your car. Though you’re going to be fine most of the time. You can still be able to go under most bridges with a roof rack on. But in some car parks and fast-food drives, they may have their height requirements.

You may ask, what will a roof rack do to your car? Whenever you have roof racks and items on top of your vehicle, it may affect you at some point. 

All you need do is to pay attention to where you are driving and the height clearances, or you can empty the roof rack.

A roof rack fitted to your car will cause your car to drag as said earlier.

Does A Roof Rack Lower My Gas Mileage?

how will a roof rack affect your car
how will a roof rack affect your car

One of the ways roof rack affects your car is to compromise your car’s aerodynamics, and by definition, happens to be the motion of air while interacting with a solid object. This means that the more aerodynamic your car becomes, the less effort your engine requires to keep your vehicle moving. 

But whenever your vehicle’s aerodynamics is compromised, then the higher the drag is on your car. When you have an extra drag, you’ll observe that your fuel mileage will be less. This also means that you’ll use up lots of fuel when you have a roof rack then when you don’t have one. I guess this answers the question, does a roof rack waste fuel. 

What Should I Carry On My Roof Rack? 

Before roof rack affects your car, note that all Thule roof racks have several features: 

  • Their high load capacity: All roof racks are produced to carry up to 75 kg 
  • Fast installation: They are very easy to mount and add accessories 
  • Safety first: They are tested to the limit and beyond in the Thule Test Centers

Whenever you combine other Thule products, this roof rack is a starting point for carrying that extra load such as bikes, your skis, your canoes or kayaks, and your surfboards. 

So, What Will A Roof Rack Perform For Your Car?

A roof rack affects your car as it increases your car’s wind resistance. As you know, it will cause an increase in the way fuel is consumed. Any aerodynamically produced roof rack will help reduce wind resistance to a minimum, however, you should remove it when it isn’t in use.

Roof Rack Alternative

If the roof rack affects your car and you don’t want to add any roof rack again, then I completely understand. You only need other alternatives.

However, there are some other alternatives to adding roof racks, but I see them as worse options.

Just get a bigger car. 

Though this could be an extreme step. But if the roof rack affects your car and you always have short of space, then it is time to upgrade.

However, if the roof rack affects your car and you’re just moving goods from A to B, then you could rent a van or even a bigger car.

Another alternative option would be to buy or rent a trailer.

Please note that I’m not a fan of this option, but this could be more inconvenient for anyone especially if the roof rack affects your car. 

When you drive with a trailer, it’s a completely different experience. Also, when you check the cost of renting or buying a trailer, then you’ll observe that it doesn’t just worth it.

The final option is to run multiple cars. 

This might not be an obvious option for everyone. But if the roof rack affects your car and you’re going on a family holiday, you can fill up two cars and take them both. Also, if you’re moving goods from A to B, then you can get a friend with a car that’d be willing to help you out. You can even pay them for their time or cover their fuel expenses at least.

Is A Roof Rack Worth It?

how will a roof rack affect your car

No matter how the roof rack affects your car, when you look at all the advantages the roof rack can bring, you’ll agree with me that it’s one of the best investments that you can add to your car. The roof rack may not come cheap, but it’s worth buying. Just ensure that you’ve done proper research to know if the roof rack you’re installing is of good quality.


No matter how the roof rack affects your car, note that a poorly produced roof rack not only significantly minimizes your gas mileage but can also be dangerous while on high speed. But always examine the owner’s manual so you can stay within the recommended speed limit for your safety.

The advances in technology and innovation have greatly improved how the aesthetics of roof racks and cargo boxes function. Currently, they are becoming more aerodynamic, they are easy to install and easy to use than ever before.

So in case the roof rack affects your car and you’re installing roof racks for aesthetics, then you need to weigh up the pros and cons. As you know, when you use roof racks, your car could look much cooler. This will come at the cost of decreased handling and speed. But if you like roof racks, then you can do well by leaving roof racks on your car.

Roof racks can be extremely beneficial for the active traveler, though it’s vital to ensure you don’t leave them on when you’re not using them. Overall, they are very effective and safe means of transporting your bikes, machines, or cargo from A to B.

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