When to use a roof rack or box

13/07/2017

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Roof rack systems come in all shapes and sizes. We take a look at your options and consider the advantages of having a ‘second boot space’.

Room on top

Your drivers have enough to cope with on the road, so items that are sliding around when they’re driving (think braking and turning) can be not only distracting but actually pretty dangerous. Piling up stuff in the back can impair a driver’s vision and even cause a blind spot.

So roof racks and boxes can be a great solution. Especially if some of the loads your drivers are carrying are large, awkward or unwieldy.

However, it’s worth noting though, that there are maximum permitted roof loads and you’ll need to stick within these limits.

So have a look in the handbook for the maximum load you’re allowed to transport. Some cars can carry more than others. Next, weigh the items that you want your drivers to carry (including the roof rack itself) before letting them drive away.

Safely does it

How many times do you see overloaded items balanced precariously on roof racks? Get your load carrying numbers right and it’ll make a safe journey for all concerned.

What’s more, it’s probably best to put bulky, cumbersome but light things on the roof and keep heavier items inside the car. And don’t forget the extra height. Low bridges and many covered car parks will need to be carefully considered before they are entered.

Anything carried on the roof must be attached securely. The Highway Code states:

"You must secure your load and it must not stick out dangerously"

As you drive along, the airflow will try to lift the front of any load, so you’ll need to pay attention to this with a secure front fixing. Equally important, a rear fixing is required to prevent heavy loads sliding forwards when braking. If you are using ropes and straps to secure your rack, then drivers will need to stop from time to time to check them. They have a habit of working loose.

Which roof rack?

There are loads (pun intended) of roof racks and boxes to choose from. But in general terms, they come in two main shapes: rounded and square/rectangular.

The rounded roof box is probably better for extra equipment and clothing, whereas the boxier ones tend to have greater capacity and more suited to larger items.

Most roof rack systems includes a fit kit, towers, and cross bars. The cross bars carry all your stuff, the towers grab the cross bars and the fit kit clips it all to your roof.

Fit kit – you’ll need this if you have a flush roof with no in-built gutters. It consist of clips called feet or connectors that attach to the corners of your roof. Please check which clips you need before buying, they are often specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

Towers – these need to be fitted properly to your car to prevent your load flying off. They are universal, so if you change your car, you will only need to get a new set of fit clips to reattach your rack.

Cross bars – they hold everything together and are available as square, circular or aero. Square bars are the cheapest, although they are the least aerodynamic, meaning more whistling at high speeds and a higher mpg. Thule’s aero bars are undoubtedly the better, albeit more expensive, option. They’re quieter and offer increased fuel economy. As a happy medium, you may wish to purchase circular bars – offering you the best of both worlds. You can also get sliding bars, which make it easier to access your rack. Useful on larger, wider vehicles.

Connectors/adaptors – they attach your roof box to your base system and two main types are available. U-bolts can be used with most roof boxes except aero bars whilst

Sleeker looking (but more expensive) T Track adaptors can be used on all bars, with the advantage of spreading the load and cutting down on wind noise.

So it’s worth doing your research before you purchase a rack system. They’re extremely useful for carrying additional items and keeping your small business moving, but make sure you choose the most suitable one for your fleet.

What do you think about roof racks? Tops for business? Join in the discussion on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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