Can You Drive with an Empty Cargo Box?

Can You Drive with an Empty Cargo Box Featured Image

Most people know that when they have a cargo box on the roof of their vehicle, they have to make sure they don’t load too many items onto the carrier. 

Cargo carriers all come with a maximum weight capacity that it is important to follow because if you don’t it can damage the roof of your car. 

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But, what about the opposite situation – is it considered acceptable to drive around in your vehicle with a rooftop carrier that is empty and still on top of your roof?

Can your drive with an empty cargo box? The short answer is No. But there are some exceptions.

The Basics (Cargo Box)

Most experts recommend removing your rooftop carrier when it is empty for one main reason: it increases your fuel consumption. Much like carriers that are filled with items and heavy, having a carrier on your roof that is empty still affects the mileage on your vehicle. If you want to save on your fuel bill, therefore, it just makes sense to remove the cargo carrier whenever you’re not using it.

Most cargo carriers are easy to install and easy to remove, so it shouldn’t be a problem to remove your carrier when it isn’t being used. It can save you a lot of money in fuel costs simply because having anything weighted down on top of your vehicle will cause you to use more gas or diesel to operate your car. 

Of course, the same is not true of the car racks themselves because these are usually permanently attached to the vehicle and often don’t weigh enough to make a difference in how much you spend on fuel. The racks may make it a tiny bit more expensive to keep fuel in your vehicle, but it shouldn’t be enough to notice a difference when it comes to your pocketbook.

What About a Spare Tire in Your Carrier?

Many people claim they’ve read the recommendation of placing a spare tire in your carrier whenever it isn’t being used. This is likely recommended so that the carrier isn’t as light and therefore won’t move around or make as much noise as you’re driving. Whistling noises can easily occur if your rooftop carrier is empty, and keeping something such as a spare tire in the carrier can eliminate those annoying noises.

That being said, if you’re going to go through the trouble of placing a heavy tire in the carrier, you might as well remove the carrier instead so that you don’t have to concern yourself with this step. It is also more aesthetically pleasing to remove the carrier if you don’t need it, especially if you have a carrier that isn’t the color or size you want it to be.

Some Practical Suggestions

If you’re going to drive around with an empty cargo carrier, it is usually recommended that you re-tighten the anchors periodically so that the carrier is more secure. You should also make sure you fasten the straps and have the zipper flap pointed all the way around so that water doesn’t leak through when it rains or snows.

Of course, most of these tips are applicable to the hard-shell type of carriers. The soft bag-type cargo carriers are more easily stored away when they’re not in use, so making sure they are removed whenever you’re not planning to use them is a lot easier to do. 

In addition, these types of carriers tend to be much lighter than the shell types, making it much less likely that you’ll end up using more fuel just to drive around with it on your vehicle. 

Regardless of the type of carrier you have on your vehicle, it is important to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to empty cargo carriers. This way, you can rest easy that you’re doing everything correctly.

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