What are Roof Racks For?

Virtually anything!  Fitting a roof rack to your car ads immeasurable versatility and practicality. They’re a perfect, economical solution for thousands of people including holidaying families, outdoor adventurists, business owners, DIYers, cyclists and more to boot. Basically a roof rack allows you to carry more stuff. Whether it’s more luggage or baby equipment in a roof box, bikes, surf boards or ladders, a roof rack can handle it. But it doesn’t end there, what about that chest of drawers you’ve been eyeing up on DoneDeal? or that old mattress in the shed that you need to bring to the tip? There are hundreds of everyday scenarios where a roof rack can come in handy and may negate the need to hire a van or bother your mate who owns a huge estate car.

Everything You need to Know About Roof Racks

Roof Rack Buying Guide:

How much do they cost?

They start at around £50-70 and can go up to £200-300

Why such a difference in price?

A number of factors affect cost such as construction material, ie steel or aluminium, the type or style of roof rack and of course the brand. Aluminium roof racks tend to be more expensive than steel, bars with an aerodynamic profile will be more expensive and well-known brands such as THULE or Whispbar will cost more as well.

A basic roof bar setup constructed from square section steelWill any roof rack fit my car?

No. Unfortunately not. You can’t just buy the first or the cheapest roof rack you see, there are different types for different cars but thankfully it’s not rocket science! Read on and all will be explained!

How do I know what type I need?

There are 4 main types of roof rack and they differ in the way that they attach to the car. Different cars use different methods of attachment.

  • Roof racks for cars with raised roof rails: Most commonly found on estate cars & SUV’s. Raised roof rails run from the front to the back of the roof and look like the picture below. These raised rails are fitted by the car manufacturer and are often supplied as an option or come as standard equipment on some models. They’re known as ‘raised’ roof rails as they are raised up from the car roof with a clear gap between the roof and the rail, unlike ‘solid’ roof rails, which we’ll come to next.
Everything You need to Know About Roof Racks

Raised roof rails fitted as standard equipment to this SUV

  • Roof racks for cars with solid roof rails: Again, most commonly found on estate cars the ‘solid’ roof rail pictured below is a more modern version of the raised roof rail. They tend to be found on cars from roughly 2006 onwards and are flush with the car roof, ie there’s no gap between the roof and rail.
Everything You need to Know About Roof Racks

Solid roof rails fitted as standard to this estate car

  • Roof racks for cars with fix points: Fix points can be found on any car body style, be it saloon, hatch, estate or MPV. A ‘Fix Point’ is a designated point on a car roof or inside the door jamb, specifically designed for mounting a roof rack to. There will usually be 4 of them and they’re usually hidden away under a small plastic cover or cap on the roof. There are a number of different designs of ‘fix point’ and in some cases, the actual mounting point can be quite hard to find.

Illustration showing just a few of the different types of ‘fix point’ mounting system on the market

Roof Rack Buying Guide

Example of a ‘fix point’ cover on a Peugeot 307

  • Roof racks for cars without rails or fix points: If your car doesn’t have any of the features mentioned above then it will need a ‘Door Jamb’ type of roof rack. As the name suggests this type of roof rack clamps to the car door jambs (the door jamb is the part of the roof you can see when you open the door – see the image below)
    Untitled-2Everything You need to Know About Roof Racks


Can I fit the roof rack myself?

Absolutely! Fitting roof racks is a simple DIY job. Here are our top 5 tips to help the job go smoothly:

  • Get help! a second pair of hands will make fitting your roof rack so much easier and will limit the chance of scratching or damaging anything during the installation process.
  • Read the instructions – Men, we’re talking to you! All roof rack instructions contain essential information about torque settings and fitting positionsbaboons so it’s vital to read the instructions carefully.
  • Keep it clean. Make sure the roof of your car is clean, especially if fitting a door jamb style roof rack. Grit or dirt trapped between the mounting points/support could scratch your paintwork so ensure your roof is clean before fitting.
  • Lube up! A tiny amount of copper grease on all of the bolts will ensure that removing the roof rack in future will be trouble free
  • Torque settings. Over tightening your roof rack can cause damage to the rack or the car so again, pay attention to the instructions, observe the torque settings and don’t over tighten.

Our list of Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts When Using a Roof Rack goes into more detail and covers some of the issues customers have experienced over the years so you can avoid the same pitfalls!

Our YouTube channel is also a great resource for finding out more about roof racks – specifically the roof rack playlist. We have our own product demo’s as well as a series of customer submitted videos, specific to certain makes and models of car.

If you need any help, our customer service team are on hand 7 days a week to answer any of your roof rack queries as well so feel free to give them a shout. All the contact details are here

  • Bob Cowman

    Hi, I have a new Ford Fiesta van (2017) for work and want to get a set of roof bars for it. Can you advise please?