What Is The Difference Between Roof Rails And A Roof Rack?

What Is The Difference Between Roof Rails And A Roof Rack

Roof racks vs roof rails – Which do you think is best?

Are you needing to carry more cargo in your car than before? If so, you’re probably looking at ways to increase your vehicle’s storage capacity. 

Whilst you could always attach a trailer to your vehicle and carry more supplies this way, it’s not the easiest option. Also, many of us are not comfortable driving with a trailer. 

Luckily, you can increase your cargo capacity with the use of roof rails and roof racks

These are very useful for transporting all manner of things safely such as luggage, kayaks, bikes, boards, and much more. In other words, they allow you to carry goods that won’t fit inside your vehicle.

Best of all, many roof rails are compatible with different attachments, so you can attach roof baskets, ski racks, bike carriers, and more with ease. These rails can also look uber stylish and give your car a new, sleek look. 

But, the question remains – should you invest in roof rails or roof racks? Are there any differences between the two and, if so, what are they? 

Stick around to find out as we guide you through both roof racks and roof rails, so you can decide what suits your needs best. 

Roof Racks vs Roof Rails: The Differences 

Roof rails and roof racks are both similar in that they both enable you to secure goods on the roof of your car. However, there are some key differences. The biggest distinction is how they are positioned on top of your vehicle’s rooftop. 

Roof rails, for instance, run the length of a car’s roof and are fastened to it with feet or other attachments, whereas roof racks are attached across the entire roof.

Roof rails have a bar that runs the length of the car’s rooftop from front to back. Moreover, roof rails are normally pre-installed by the manufacturer, too, although they can also be fitted individually afterward. 

Roof racks, on the other hand, are bars that are securely mounted from one end to another (right to left).

Roof rails serve as mounting points for crossbars and other accessories like ski racks, cargo boxes, and cargo carriers. 

These cargo add-ons are simple to install and remove as desired. Roof rails that are flush-mounted tend to lay flat on the car’s roof. This leaves no space between both the rail and the roof.

One main difference between the two is that roof racks are sturdier than roof rails. This is because they are made to support heavier weights. This is why roof racks are typically the better option if you regularly carry larger, heavier loads.

Furthermore, roof racks should be installed professionally. This is so you can get the right roof rack for your needs. A professional will help you understand the roof rack’s weight limit and what may happen if you exceed this. 

If you end up exceeding a roof rack’s weight, you could be putting yourself and your passengers in serious jeopardy. 

The roof could buckle and the whole structure of the vehicle could become damaged. As well as this, it could lead to a void in insurance claims if you get into an accident. So, always check the roof rack and roof rail’s weight limit before loading anything on!

Roof Rails

Roof racks vs roof rails

Roof rails are typically found on larger vehicles such as SUVs and minivans. As for smaller vehicles, like sedans and coupes, they are not usually fitted. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that roof rails cannot be fitted on all vehicles.

Roof rails purposes do not usually involve carrying goods in and of themselves. Instead, they are used to anchor and stabilize other cargo carrying objects, such as cargo boxes and crossbars.

Roof Rail Types 

There are only two main types of roof rails. Of course, you can choose from many colors, so they match your vehicle’s unique design. 

The two types of roof rails are:

  • • Elevated roof rails
  • • Flush roof rails

Elevated roof rails are raised around an inch or so off the vehicle’s rooftop. You can tie down ropes with these roof rails to secure items properly.

Flush roof rails tend to be the more stylish of the two. These are also better for fuel efficiency as you drive, as they are not as high as their elevated counterparts.

Roof Racks

Roof racks are also known as crossbars, and they’re typically available through dealerships. Roof racks, unlike roof rails, are designed to hold heavier weights and are, on the whole, more durable.

Roof Rack Types

The kind of roof racks you can employ are determined on the type of roof on your car. Roof racks are essentially available in two types: temporary (which may be removed) and permanent (which cannot be removed following installation). These are the main roof types available:

  • • Naked Roofs
  • • Fixed Mounting Points and Factory Tracks 
  • • Rain Gutters
  • • Factory Side rails – Flush and Raised
  • • Truck Canopies and Camper Tops
  • • Custom Permanent Track and Fixed Point Installations

Benefits of Roof Rails and Roof Racks

Roof Rails

  • • Roof rails can be installed on a variety of vehicles, including SUVs, vans, and cars.
  • • Because they are fastened to your vehicle’s roof, they are quite durable.
  • • Roof rails form the base for various crossbars, cargo carriers, and roof boxes.
  • • Roof rails make it easier to transport recreational equipment such as skis, kayaks, snowboards, and more.
  • • They’re hard to steal and can also be used to support aluminum or steel roof racks.

Roof Racks

  • • The trunk is easily accessible, and you won’t have to worry about fitting all of your belongings within.
  • • Roof racks are fantastic for transporting bulky items or equipment such as skis and kayaks.
  • • You may secure all of your athletic equipment to the roof rack to keep it from being stolen.
  • • They provide flexibility and opportunities when selecting a cargo carrier to mount all sorts of items. Therefore, you can free up space in the vehicle.
  • • Another advantage of a roof rack is that it can be dismantled and stored when not being used and then reinstalled easily when it is required again.

In Summary

As you can see, roof rails and roof racks differ in that roof racks can carry heavier items. What is best for you comes down to your requirements.

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