A Guide To Roofs And Roof Racks

A Guide To Roofs And Roof Racks

Roof racks are a great way of adding extra storage space to your vehicle. Whether you are going camping, on a road trip, or moving house roof racks are a great idea! 

Depending on the vehicle you have you will need to get specific types of roof racks. The great news is that even if your car has nothing on the roof that a roof rack could be attached to, there are ways to make it work.

Roof racks can be fitted to a vehicle permanently or temporarily using a number of methods. This is a guide to the main types of roofs you can find on a vehicle and the types of roof racks suited to it.

Types Of Roofs And Roof Racks

There are six main types of roofs that you would typically find on most types of vehicles, we explain each in detail below.

Naked Or Bare Roofs 

Most cars are manufactured to be bare on the roof meaning there are no railings, mounts, or additional features.

Many people often believe that the plastic strips that stretch from the front to the back on a vehicle’s roof are rain gutters that a roof rack could be attached to but this is incorrect. 

In the world of roof racks, vehicles that are totally flat on the roof are referred to as naked or bare roofs as there is nothing that the roof rack could be mounted to. The good news is that there are ways around this to securely attach a roof rack to sucha  vehicle.

Clip fits are the best solution in this case as this type of roof rack gathers tension around the door frame of vehicles that do not have any pre-installed attachment points.

This type of roof rack requires two components, the first being a universal tower and the second being a clip or fit kit that adjusts the tower to suit the specific vehicle. 

These require a skilled installer to avoid any errors. 

Example of clip fits suitable for naked roof vehicles:

Alternatively, a custom permanent installation would be suitable for this type of vehicle and speaking with a professional would be the best way to move forward with this choice.  

Factory Siderails

SUVs, wagons, and other similar vehicles often feature factory-installed side rails on the roof. These side rails are strong attachment points put in place specifically to support a roof rack system. There are two different versions of factory side rails, explained below.

Raised Side Rails

Raised side rails are raised off the roof, enabling a tower to be fitted around it. 

Example of towers suitable for raised side rails:

Flush Side Rails

Flush side rails sit against the roof and in most cases feature a pinhole or channel that towers can slot into. 

Example of a tower suitable for flush side rails:

Factory Tracks & Fixed Mounting Points

Some vehicles are manufactured to feature mounting points along the roof. These are fantastic as they enable vehicle owners to easily install base towers. Many Mazda models, Subaru, and BMW sedans are designed to have this feature.

Example of towers suitable for tracks and fixed mounting points:

Rain Gutters

In the 80s rain gutters were standard on almost all vehicles. Rain gutters, also known as gutters and drip rails, can also be seen on commercial vans and large cargo vehicles as well as a number of Jepp and SUV models. 

Rain gutters have been around for decades and so there is a huge amount of choice for rain gutter towers that are also very affordable.

Example of towers suitable for rain gutters:

Truck Canopy & Camper Tops

There are two main choices for vehicles that have canopies or camper tops. You can choose to get artificial side mount rain gutter brackets, which are usually installed onto the side of the camper top or canopy and this is then what the rain gutter tower is attached to.

Examples of towers suitable for truck canopy and camper tops: 

You could alternatively have a custom track or fixed point installation installed on the roof but this process can be complex and expensive as it must be done by a professional.

In most cases, this would be a permanent fixture that could depreciate the value of the campervan when reselling. 

Custom Permanent Tracks & Fixed Point Installations

For most vehicles, a fixed mounting point or rack can be installed permanently. Custom tracks offer great flexibility as you can position your roof rack. This type of installation needs to be done professionally. 

Example of suitable racks: 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has given you more information and that ultimately it has educated you as to what type of roof rack would be best for you. 

In most cases having a professional is the best way to have a roof rack installed, especially if you believe a custom fit should be installed to suit your vehicle.

It is important to note that custom fits are often more expensive but can be better in the long run rather than having a roof rack unsuited to your vehicle installed, causing damage to the roof.

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