Are Roof Rails Worth It?

Jessica Allen
by Jessica Allen

When driving on the highway, you’ve likely seen cars with roof rails transporting luggage or sports equipment. But is it really worth it to install roof rails on your car? That depends on whether you need to transport items that don’t fit comfortably inside your vehicle.

Roof rails provide additional storage space and can transport large or strangely-shaped items that don’t fit inside your car. They’re often used for bicycles, kayaks, snowboards, skis, luggage, camping equipment, and more, opening up additional space for passengers. Some cars come with factory-installed roof rails, but you can install roof rails on the vast majority of vehicles.

This article covers the situations in which roof rails are useful, plus the differences between roof rails and roof racks. It also discusses whether you can install roof rails yourself and what flush roof rails are. Finally, it answers a few common questions regarding roof rails.

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Are Roof Rails Useful?

Roof rails are useful to transport various gear that cannot fit inside your car. They’re an especially useful solution for smaller cars and larger vehicles that don’t have the right dimensions for oddly-shaped items. Many people use roof rails to transport their bikes, skis, snowboards, kayaks, and other large items.

Not only are roof rails handy for traveling with various equipment, but they also function as additional storage space. They’re handy for luggage and suitcases when traveling. Roof rails can potentially open up more space for passengers inside your car.

Another benefit of having roof rails is improved air quality inside the vehicle. Consider the air quality in your car when all of your dirty camping or sports equipment is stuffed inside. With roof rails, these items are securely fastened to the top of your vehicle and don’t impact the air quality.

What Is The Difference Between Roof Rails And A Roof Rack?

You’ll often see the terms “roof rails” and “roof rack” used interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? In reality, roof rails and roof racks are similar, but they are not the same.

The main difference between roof rails and roof racks is the way they’re mounted on top of your car.

Roof Rails

Roof rails are mounted north to south on your car’s roof. They run parallel to the length of the vehicle and have an aerodynamic look. Having roof rails means you can tie down and transport items that don’t fit inside your car.

In most cases, roof rails are factory fitted. This means that the rails themselves generally cannot be used on their own. Still, a huge variety of roof rail accessories are available to increase their stability and load capacity.

Roof rails are ideal for oversized loads that have a lighter weight. They are essentially carriers for oversized items.

Roof Racks

Meanwhile, roof racks run east to west across your car’s roof. This generally provides a more secure load. Roof racks can handle more weight than roof rails.

Still, it’s vital that you don’t overload your roof rack. Always stick to the weight guidelines provided, as overloaded vehicles can be dangerous. Insurance companies typically do not provide coverage for accidents caused by overloaded roof racks.

Roof racks are the optimal choice if you need maximum cargo weight, safety, and stability.

Roof Rails Plus Roof Rack

It’s also possible to attach a roof rack on top of roof rails. This increases the amount of weight that the roof rails can handle. However, correct installation is key for safety and efficacy.

Can You Install Roof Rails Yourself?

Yes, it is possible to install roof rails yourself. Many vehicles come with roof rails already installed. This is especially common with sporty hatchbacks and SUVs. Some other cars have hidden mounting hardware that makes the installation easier.

When installing roof rails, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly. Poorly-installed roof rails can be hazardous.

If you’re interested in installing permanent roof rails, then it’s usually best to hire a professional. Permanent installation involves drilling into your car’s roof, which can decrease its value later if the roof rails are removed.

What Are Flush Roof Rails?

Flush roof rails are typically factory-installed and are already attached to your car when you purchase it. They run north to south or front to back on your vehicle’s roof, so they’re parallel with the car’s length. Sometimes, flush roof rails are also called solid roof rails or continuous roof rails.

The word “flush” in the name “flush roof rails” comes from the fact that these rails are flush to the roof. In other words, there isn’t any space between the roof and the rails. In most cases, flush roof rails have inner and outer grooves that allow a crossbar to be connected.

Roof racks can be installed on top of flush roof rails. You’ll generally need crossbars to do this, along with a leg kit and clip kit. Attaching a roof rack to flush roof rails increases their cargo capacity.

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Related Questions

Can you put roof rails on any car?

Roof rails can be attached to nearly any vehicle; some estimates say that roof rails work for 98% of cars. There are several different ways to install roof rails on various car types.

It’s easiest to attach roof rails to cars that already have mounting hardware. However, you can also attach roof rails to cars with flat or bare roofs.

How are roof rails attached?

Some vehicles, like minivans and SUVs, have factory-installed roof rails. For cars that don’t come with roof rails, there are several ways to attach them. One is with built-in mounting hardware, which comes with some vehicles.

However, many cars have bare or flat roofs. Roof rails can be attached with clips or mounts. Permanent roof rails require holes to be drilled into the car’s roof for the mounting hardware.

Are roof rails removable?

Some roof rails are removable, and others are permanent. It depends on the way the roof rails are installed.

Generally, factory-installed roof rails are intended to be permanently mounted, so removing them is a very involved process. But if you installed roof rails yourself, they can generally be removed and reinstalled as needed.

Jessica Allen
Jessica Allen

With a lifelong passion for writing plus strong enthusiasm for home improvement and DIY projects, joining the team at Upgraded Home was an easy choice. Jessica Allen likes to share helpful information with current and aspiring homeowners. Aside from writing, Jessica loves doing yoga, playing the piano, and dabbling in graphic design.

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