Top 10 Dos and Don'ts When Travelling With A Roof Rack - AA Travel Hub
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Roof rack roof box

01 Jul Top 10 Dos and Don’ts When Travelling With A Roof Rack

The folks over at Mick’s Garage know their stuff when it comes to travelling with a roof rack.

They have been selling and fitting roof racks to customers’ cars for over a decade. During that time they’ve built up a wealth of experience and knowledge with regards to the common issues that you might face. Here’s their list of the top 10 things to look out for:

READ THE INSTRUCTIONS

“As a rule, us chaps don’t read instructions and to be fair, most of us get away with it 95% of the time! If you’re fitting a roof rack to your car it’s extremely important to read all the instructions fully before you take a single bolt out of the box. They will help you get the job done more quickly, easily and safely in the long run. While not essential, a second pair of hands is certainly a big help. Remember your car is worth a lot more than the set of roof racks you’ve just bought, so don’t damage it by not reading the instructions!”

WHAT ARE YOU TORQUING ABOUT?

“Pay particular attention to the torque settings (if mentioned). A properly fitted and used roof rack will give years of trouble free service and will not damage your car. An over-torqued, under-torqued, badly fitted or overloaded roof rack can damage your car. If you’re unsure about how to fit a roof rack correctly, check out this MicksGarage video for some top tips.”

LUBE UP

“If left on your car, your roof rack will be exposed to the elements, and as a result the fittings can corrode over time. To counteract this, a bit of copper grease on the mounting bolt threads will help protect against corrosion and make removing them in the future so much easier.”

DON'T OVERLOAD

“The owner’s manual for your car will have a section on the maximum weight that can be carried on the roof. We often find the car will have a lower weight limit than the roof bars so it’s important to check and never exceed whichever is the lower of the two.”

GET HELP

“Loading a roof rack with big, bulky items can be quite difficult. It’s when you’re struggling and straining that things tend to get damaged, so rather than scratching your lovely paintwork with that 12-foot canoe you’re trying to manhandle on your own, get someone to give you a hand.”

HOW TALL?

“You’d be surprised at the number of calls we get from customers telling us they’ve just driven their car into a multi-storey car park (or their own garage), forgotten they had the roof rack and roof box or bike racks fitted and ripped the whole lot off! It’s more of an issue on taller MPVs and 4×4s but still possible in family saloons, so try to remember the extra height you’re carrying!”

LOCK IT UP

“At MicksGarage, we only sell roof racks with security locks – be sure to use them at all times, especially if you’re carrying bikes or kayaks that can be worth thousands. It can also be a good idea to keep your roof rack keys on your car key ring. We get hundreds of calls every year looking for replacement keys!”

TIE IT DOWN

“Canoes, kayaks and surf boards must be tied down to the car front and back, not just to the roof rack. You can use the car’s towing eyes or tow bar if it has one. These kind of products can generate absolutely colossal amounts of aerodynamic lift when travelling at speed and could rip any brand of roof rack clean off your car if it’s not tied down properly. Even if you’re not travelling quickly, strong winds (and it often is very windy when surfers/wind surfers are heading out) could exert forces higher than the roof rack is rated for and cause damage so this is a really important point.”

SLOW DOWN

“Some roof rack accessories such as roof boxes come with a maximum speed warning which shouldn’t be exceeded. Aerodynamic drag increases with speed, and exceeding the speed rating could effectively exert too much force onto the accessory or the roof rack.”

TAKE IT OFF

“Despite the use of lightweight materials and aerodynamic profiles, a roof rack still adds a degree of weight and aerodynamic drag to your car. Although a small amount, it will negatively affect your fuel economy. So if you’re not using it, take it off!

“Finally, if you’re planning on taking a trip to the safari park with a roof box attached to your rack, stay away from the baboons! Or just make sure you lock it.”

For more information on roof racks and travel accessories, whether for business or leisure, head to MicksGarage. They have a team of experts on hand seven days a week.

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Barry Aldworth
AldworthB@theaa.ie