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

Published 25th May 2021Read Time 15 min

Safer Driving 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 sold and fitted roof racks for customers’ cars for over a decade. During that time, they’ve built up a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding the common issues you might face. People make common issues and mistakes when fitting and using a roof rack. 

Here’s Micks Garage’s list of Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts to ensure they don’t happen to you. 

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 before taking 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 much more than the roof racks you’ve just bought, so don’t damage it by not reading the instructions!” 

Torque Settings 

“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 how to fit a roof rack correctly, check out this Micks Garage video for some top tips.” 

The Elements 

“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.” 

Weight Limit 

“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 exceeds whichever is the lower of the two.” 

Ask for 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.” 

Beware of the Extra Height 

“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!” 

Keep it Locked 

“At Micks Garage, 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. Keeping your roof rack keys on your car key ring can also be a good idea. We get hundreds of calls every year looking for replacement keys!” 

Tied Down 

“Canoes, kayaks and surfboards 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 kinds 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 (often very windy when surfers/windsurfers are heading out) could exert forces higher than the roof rack is rated for and cause damage, so this is a really important point.” 

Unnecessary Weight 

“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.” Despite using 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! 

The Safari 

“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 Micks Garage. They have a team of experts on hand seven days a week. 

Bonus: A Safety Net 

Do you have great car insurance to protect against all kinds of accidents? Whether you’re a new customer or an existing AA member, you’re open to many benefits that are hard to find elsewhere. Whether you opt for Third Party or Comprehensive cover, from windscreen repair through AA-approved repairers to 10 days on a courtesy car, our insurance goes further.