Should You Remove A Roof Rack When Not In Use?

Should You Remove A Roof Rack When Not In Use?

A roof rack on your car is the ideal solution to carry any additional or oddly shaped items that don’t fit inside your vehicle.

Installing a roof rack is not usually very difficult but it does take time, so do you need to remove the roof rack each time you don’t use it for a while?

We find out whether it is better to remove a roof rack or leave it after use.

Should You Remove A Roof Rack From Your Car When Not In Use?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Legally, you are allowed to keep a roof rack and roof rails on your car all the time.

If you want to leave your roof rack on all year round even if you are not using it, then this is fine. However, there are a few reasons why you may not want to do this.

Why You Should Remove A Roof Rack When Not In Use

Leaving a roof rack on your vehicle for longer periods of time depends very much on your lifestyle.

If you continually use your roof rack, then this is not an issue, although you may also want to consider the below points.

However, if you use a roof rack only a couple of times a year, then it may be better to remove the roof rack after use to save fuel and reduce wear.

Let’s take a look at why it is best to remove the roof rack as soon as possible after use.

It Affects Fuel Consumption

One of the key reasons why it is best to remove your roof rack is to save fuel.

As a rule of thumb, a roof rack isn’t very aerodynamic, so its resistance to wind isn’t very efficient. This means that it increases the vehicle’s fuel consumption.

Saying this, a roof box that has been designed aerodynamically to reduce fuel consumption can go a long way to mitigate this problem.

However, you will never achieve the same fuel consumption as without the roof box, so it is best to remove it when not used over longer periods of time.

Adds More Weight

Any additional weight added to your car will affect your vehicle’s fuel consumption. It’s important you check the maximum load that you can add to the roof of your car.

You should also check the loading capacity of your roof rack, as overloading the roof rack can cause damage to the roof back and your car.

Requires Lower Speed Limits

When you drive with a roof rack, you need to ensure that you stick to the speed limit advised by the manufacturer.

Typically, roof racks have a speed rating which should not be exceeded or otherwise you will damage the roof rack and the vehicle.

Travelling at too high speeds with a roof rack can cause the roof rack to lift and may tear the roof rack as well as your car’s roof.

In addition, you will also need to look out for any strong winds which may have the same effect.

This can not just lead to serious damage to your car and your roof rack but it also increases the fuel consumption.

Extra Height

Depending on the type of roof rack you have, your vehicle height will be much greater than without a roof rack.

This can cause problems when driving through a multi-story car park, a garage or even just a drive-through with a barrier.

If you forget about the additional height of your roof rack, you will end up damaging the roof rack, your car and the ceiling of the garage.

That’s why, it is better to remove your roof rack when you do not use it for a while.

Increase In Your Car Insurance

Depending on your car insurance company, temporary modifications, such as roof racks, may count as vehicle modifications, which means that your car insurance premium may go up.

Insurance providers may see a roof rack as a modification which increases the risk of possible damage, which means you need to be covered for this.

Another reason why insurance companies may put up your premium with a roof rack is because of safety concerns.

The installation of roof racks is not always done professionally, so you cannot guarantee that it is fully road safe.

However, these specifics may already be covered in your existing car insurance policy, so before installing a roof rack on your vehicle it is important to check that you are fully covered.

If your insurance company does not permit a roof rack to be installed for longer, then it is best to remove it.

It Affects Your Braking

As already mentioned, a roof rack isn’t usually very aerodynamic. This means that it will also change the handling of the car.

As the center of gravity changes with the car rack on your roof, it will extend the stopping distance of your vehicle making it change braking times.

From a vehicle safety perspective, it is best to remove the roof rack and also the roof rails, so you can handle your car safely at any speed.

If you need to use the roof box of your car for longer, then it is best to only carry light loads in it. You should also secure the load properly, so that it doesn’t fly around when you go around bends or you have to brake at short notice.

Wear And Tear Of Roof Rack

Perhaps a more minor reason, but anything that is attached to the outside of your car is inevitably affected by the weather.

This means that when you keep your roof rack on for longer, it will wear much faster than using it only occasionally.

Generally, you should make sure that you use a durable roof rack that is made of high-quality materials.

A roof rack needs to withstand a vast range of weather, including rain, ice, wind and even salt from the road surface.

Make sure that you buy a roof rack that has been tested, particularly for your local weather conditions.

However, even the most durable roof rack will wear over time. You will notice the coating come off, and the rubber feet will become brittle.

You can avoid this by taking the roof rack off your car whenever you do not use. Make sure that you store in a dry, cool place.


Thanks to new, modern designs, most roof racks are aerodynamic which means they are less likely to affect your car’s performance.

This makes it easier to handle your car even in strong winds and it also cuts down on fuel consumption.

However, if you are not going on a longer trip, it is best to remove the roof rack to get the fuel consumption to the optimum level.

It’s a good idea to choose a roof rack system that is quick and easy to remove. Just pick a system that doesn’t use as many bolts, and which uses few clips to attach to the roof of your car.

This will ensure that you can remove the roof rack as quickly as possible without any hassle.

Leave a Comment

Best Roof Box is supported by readers. We may earn a commission when you buy with our links.

Popular Articles

The Best Roof Boxes of 2024 – A Buyer’s Guide

Let’s take a look at what you should look for in a roof box, which options are topping the market, and which of those are ...
Read More →

Best Roof Tents For Your Car: A Detailed Review

Roof tents are easy to set up and offer more versatility than traditional ground tents. They are also space-efficient as you can set up camp ...
Read More →

Best Thule Roof Boxes – The Ultimate Guide

Thule rooftop cargo boxes are a leader in car storage solutions. This guide to Thule’s car roof boxes will give you the information you need ...
Read More →

Roof Box or Roof Bag: Choosing What’s Best

Trying to find the best rooftop carrier can be a bit of a problem, especially if you have no clue what you are looking for. ...
Read More →