If your car didn’t come with a roof rack from the automaker, don’t worry. There’s still hope. You can purchase an aftermarket roof rack. These will give you the ability to carry loads on the top of your car, as well as attach a number of different cargo management systems (carriers and covers).

A good cargo roof rack should be designed for your make and model. It should also offer a good cargo capacity (the roof rack is what carries the load, not the roof of the car). It should offer excellent weather resistance, too. Here are some important tips to consider regarding car roof racks:

  • OEM Fit: Obviously, different makes and models have different roof sizes. This makes it somewhat difficult to design a universal aftermarket roof rack that will fit every vehicle. Look for one that’s rated for your specific make and model, as this will ensure that it fits well.

  • Trusted Brand: You’ll find a host of manufacturers on the market offering roof racks, but it’s generally best to go with a brand that’s built a reputation for quality. Thule is one such brand, while Yakima is another. You can also check with your automaker and see if they have recommendations.

  • Cargo Capacity: When it comes to cargo capacity, the key thing to remember is the weight limit and load distribution. You cannot carry a load directly on the roof of the car, so the load will have to be evenly distributed across the roof rack. Make sure it’s rated for what you need to use it for (carrying a cargo box, hauling bikes, etc.).

  • Accessories: Many roof rack manufacturers also offer other accessories for their products, such as cargo boxes, bike mounts and the like. Consider the range of accessories available from each manufacturer before you make a purchase decision.

  • Weather Resistance: Your roof rack will be exposed to the elements for the duration of your ownership. Check the weather resistance rating and whether any special care is required to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.

A roof rack can give you the ability to carry anything from luggage to snowboards on your roof. So for those longer trips where you don't wish to cramp the inside of your vehicle, see if a roof rack is an option for your vehicle.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Car Roof Rack and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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