Roof Rack Basics 101

Roof Rack Basics 101 There are three components that make up a roof rack system:

Four towers attach to the roof of your auto and install quickly and easily. The towers provide a stable base for the rack system. Here is where you install four locks into the towers, so your rack and gear will be safe and secure.

Next, two crossbars provide load support between the two sets of towers, front and rear.

Here is where you determine what you'll carry... bikes, skis, boats, cargo or combinations. You pick and choose.

How do I know which roof rack is best for my vehicle?
If you have decided to put your sport toys on the roof, here are four options that may help you decide which roof rack is best for your needs.

Maximum Load Racks
A complete rack system consists of towers and crossbars that attach with clips to the vehicle's roof. This system offers the most capacity, load and stability.

Existing Factory Rack Up-grades
These consist of towers and crossbars designed specifically to use with the vehicle's existing factory rack. They offer a simple mount to the factory rack and give a higher capacity multi-sport rack.

Factory Rack Single Sport Mounts
These consist of clamps that secure bike mounts or ski mounts directly to the vehicle's existing factory crossbars. This offers the most economical way of carrying skis and bikes on your roof.

Custom Mounted Racks
They call them tracks and artificial rain gutters, which allow you to mount on unique areas. They work perfect for creating a multi-sport system on a mini-van, truck cap, or camper top. Drilling is required.

If I have two different cars, can I use the same rack system?
It will depend on the type of rack you choose for your auto.
If you choose a:

  • Roof Rack:
    In some cases, you will be able to use the same crossbars and towers but will need different clips for each car model. In other cases, for example if you have a SUV with an existing factory rack and a car without one, the rack mounting system will not be interchangeable.
  • Hitch Rack:
    As long as both vehicles have receivers, a hitch rack can be used on both vehicles. It is recommended that both receivers be the same size, either a 2" or a 1-1/4". Adapters are available to convert them, but rarely are as secure.
  • Trunk Rack:
    This type of bike carrier has the most universal fit. As long as the manufacturer specifies a fit for your vehicle, both vehicles can share it without the need for extra parts.