What Are The Bars On Top Of Vans Called?

What Are The Bars On Top Of Vans Called

Have you ever wondered what the bars on top of vans are called?

If you have noticed that many vans and other large vehicles tend to have bars running across the top of the vehicle, you might be wondering what these are and what they do. 

In today’s brief guide, we will be explaining the purpose of these bars you see on the tops of vans and answering some common questions about their function, as well as discussing the wider implications of these roof bars in terms of vehicle insurance. 

So, if you’re curious about the bars on the roofs of vans, read on to find out everything you’ve been wanting to know!

What Are The Bars On Top Of Vans? 

The bars you see on the tops of vans are called roof bars, also sometimes referred to as crossbars. These are not to be confused with roof rails – a term that is sometimes used interchangeably but actually has a different meaning. 

Roof bars are 2 or sometimes 3 bars that run across the roof of a vehicle horizontally. The bars are parallel to one another. 

Roof rails, on the other hand, are 2 bars that run vertically down the sides of the vehicle’s roof. Again, they are parallel to each other. 

Roof rails are, for the most part, what roof bars will be mounted to, although you can find different types of roof bars with different mounting methods. 

For example, some can be clipped into the doorframe of the vehicle, removing the necessity for roof rails. 

What Is The Purpose Of Roof Bars?

Roof bars are used for mounting objects to the top of a vehicle – in this case, a van. Usually, these will be items that are too large to fit into the van. 

A common example of an item you might find strapped to a van’s roof bars is a ladder, although camping, kayaking, and cycling gear are also frequently attached to roof bars for ease of transportation. 

Basically, roof bars provide an easy and secure way to transport heavier or bulkier items on the top of your van or any other kind of vehicle when fitting them inside the vehicle would be impractical or impossible. 

What Are Roof Bars Made Of?

Because roof bars are designed to support the weight of large and heavy items that can’t easily be placed inside the vehicle, it makes sense that these bars should be made of heavy-duty, wear-resistant, and durable materials. 

Aluminum is one of the most commonly used materials in the construction of roof bars. This is because, in addition to being lightweight, aluminum is strong and wear-resistant. It can also support a lot of weight. 

Some roof bars are also made of steel, although steel roof bars are typically considered to be less durable than aluminum bars. 

They are also heavier, which is not ideal because the roof of any vehicle can only support so much weight, and heavy roof bars take away from the amount that you can load onto your roof. 

Especially compared to a material like aluminum, which can carry more weight proportionally to their own weight. 

How Much Weight Can Roof Bars Support?

The exact amount of weight that roof bars can support will vary depending on the size of the bars and the material that they are made from. 

Each manufacturer of roof bars should provide a weight limit within the user manual or online product description. It’s very important to adhere to the limit set by the manufacturer, even if you know that some roof bars can support more weight. 

The weight limitation will have been calculated based on a combination of the factors outlined above as well as the results of safety testing. 

You will also need to consider the weight limit of your van roof. Just because your roof bars can support a certain amount of weight doesn’t mean that your vehicle’s roof is necessarily up to the task. 

Van roofs usually have weight limits ranging from 70 lbs to 165 lbs, but just like the limits for roof bars, these vary according to construction and materials. 

Your vehicle’s roof weight limit should be listed in your owner manual, so be sure to consult this before putting roof bars or anything else on your van’s roof. 

Are Roof Bars The Same As A Roof Rack? 

We’ve already explained the difference between roof bars and roof rails, but you might also have heard of roof racks. Is ‘roof rack’ just another interchangeable term for roof rails or bars? Well, not exactly. 

Like roof bars, roof racks lie horizontally across the roof of a vehicle. This is different from roof rails which, as we’ve mentioned, travel vertically from the front to the back of the roof. However, roof racks and roof bars are not the same. 

While roof bars come as separate bars that need to be clipped either onto roof rails or another part of the vehicle, a roof rack consists of horizontal bars on a raised platform. 

In this case, it is the platform that will be mounted onto the rails. While roof bars usually come in sets of 2, a roof rack typically features more than 2 horizontal bars. 

Will Roof Bars Impact My Insurance?

Installing roof bars onto your vehicle might not seem like a significant change, but it is still classed as a vehicle modification, and therefore, doing so might affect your insurance. 

Before you put any roof bars on your van, you should contact your insurance company to let them know. 

It’s best if you are able to tell them the model of roof bars you’re planning on installing, including the height and weight of the bars, since these factors may impact your insurance coverage and you might be required to pay an additional fee. 

Final Thoughts 

The bars that you typically see on the roofs of vans are called roof bars or crossbars. They sit horizontally across the roof of the vehicle and usually attach to the roof rails. 

Roof bars provide a convenient way to transport large and heavy items that don’t fit inside your vehicle. 

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