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Roof Rack Storage Safety Tips

Date: Tue 26th June 2018   |   Author: L Blake


Whether you’re out cycling for the day, heading off camping for the weekend or moving house, packing a lot into a small space can be tricky. It could be that you may need to use a roof rack or roof box for extra storage. We’ve compiled a list of safety tips for utilising your roof rack storage whilst staying safe on the roads.

When to use a roof rack

Before deciding whether to invest in and use a roof rack, it might be a good idea to remove anything in the boot of your car that can be thrown away or stored elsewhere. This will help gauge how much space you already have in relation to the amount of space you will need.

Wherever possible you should avoid overloading the boot of your car. Stacking items high on top of one another can result in the rear window being obstructed, which will impair your view whilst driving. In this case, using a roof rack would be a more sensible and safer option.

Don’t overload your car

Once you have decided to use your car roof for added storage, you will then need to think about what you’re going to store up there and the impact this will have on your vehicle and your driving. It goes without saying that you should avoid overloading your car. Your car and your roof rack will each have a maximum permitted weight limit. The weight limit will vary depending on the type of car you have and whether you have opted for a roof rack or a roof box.

The maximum weight limit for your car can be found in your vehicle handbook. The maximum allowed weight for your roof storage should be displayed on the packaging or you could ask a member of staff for more details before purchasing if you’re buying in-store. It might be a good idea to research different roof storage options prior to buying, so that you find the best option for your car.

Styles and prices will vary and what works for one vehicle, may not work for another. If you have never used a roof rack before, then be sure to read the instructions carefully before fitting. Or if you prefer, you can pay for it to be fitted at a garage or possibly by the retailer. It goes without saying that the rack needs to be really secure. A badly fitted roof rack could come loose, cause damage to your car and potentially be dangerous.

The maximum weight limit for your car and your roof storage will likely be different. To be on the safe side, a good rule of thumb may be to avoid exceeding the lowest maximum limit of the two. To ensure that you stick within the limits, you could try weighing all of your items you need to carry before attaching them to your roof. And don’t forget to include the weight of the rack itself!

How to safely secure items to your car roof

When it comes to securing your items to the roof of your car The Highway Code states that “you must secure your load and it must not stick out dangerously”.

Here are some simple suggestions for how to secure items to your car roof:

  • Firstly, read the instructions that came with your roof rack ties or tie down straps if you are unsure as to how they work.
  • Place the load on your roof and lay one of the roof rack ties across the width of it.
  • Taking the end of the safety strap, loop it down and feed it underneath a roof bar that runs perpendicular to your vehicle and then back up to the top of the load.
  • Then take the end of the roof tie and feed it around to the other side of the load.
  • Again, wrap the end of the safety strap under the other side of the same roof bar.
  • Secure both ends together and tie any loose ends to the rack.

VW Beetle with roof rack

Don’t overload your roof rack

It may be a good idea to pack heavier items in the car whilst securing bulky but light items onto your roof rack. This is simply because the route you are taking, the speed you are travelling and the weather can all have an impact on your cargo. For example, heavier items may be more likely to fall off if you have to brake suddenly.

Do not obscure your view

When arranging your load, try to avoid placing anything in such a way that your view will be obscured whilst driving. For longer items such as a canoe or a surfboard,  fasten them in place at the front and the back of your vehicle to prevent them from moving around or coming loose whilst driving.

Use the right equipment

Roof rack ties or tie down straps are designed to be dependable, secure and safe. They are available to buy in varying lengths and widths to suit your needs. They also accommodate different fittings and strengths. Whilst there are other ties you could use, such as shock ties or bungee cords, ties which have been designed especially for the purpose of securing luggage to roof racks are likely going to be the better option.

Attach your ties or straps to a solid anchor

Attach your roof rack ties or tie down straps to the roof bar or another solid surface. Attaching your ties to a plastic or flimsy surface could result in something coming loose, damage to your car or worse, damage to other traffic.

Driving tips

So you’ve loaded up your vehicle and your belongings are securely strapped in but there are still a few things to consider, such as the impact this will have on your driving. Here are a few driving tips for travelling safely with a load:

  • When travelling long distance, it may be a good idea to regularly check that all of your fittings, ties and ropes are in place. Whilst at the services or parked up in a safe place, you could also take a few minutes to check that your belongings are securely fastened. This will minimise the chance of your items causing any damage whilst on the road by coming loose or falling off.
  • Now that your car is carrying extra weight, you should make sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure for the weight of the load it will be carrying. You should be able find more information about tyre pressures in your vehicle handbook.
  • Extra weight will mean that your car is going to take a bit longer to slow down. Try to bear this in mind and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. According to the The Highway Code you should try to keep a two second gap between cars when driving conditions are good, at least double on wet roads and further still when roads are icy.
  • Turning corners and braking suddenly will be much harder to do when you’re carrying a load. Be sure to travel at a reasonable speed that is manageable and always stick to the speed limit.
  • Not only will you be travelling with extra weight but you may also have incurred some extra height to your vehicle. Whilst on the open road this may not make too much of a difference but when passing under low bridges or entering a multi-storey car park, you should try to be mindful of the extra height to avoid any damage to your car and your surroundings.
  • If you’re going to be loading bulky or heavy items, then you may need a helping hand. You wouldn’t want to be fumbling around with something only to find it has scratched the paintwork! Trying to secure a large item like a canoe or a surfing board to a roof rack is likely to run a lot smoother if you have someone there to help.
  • Check your roof rack each time before you use it to make sure that it is sturdy and safe to use. Remember that your car roof is exposed to all weathers and the roof rack may experience rain and dirt which can cause rusting or a slippery surface.

We hope you found this article on Roof Rack Storage Tips helpful. For more driving tips and other interesting articles, visit the Auto Protect engage page.