Car Roof Racks

Gear - Carrier - Rack - Car
CargoGear Cargo Pyramid
Your Gear
bike, kayak, surfboard and skis
Cargo Carriers (aka mounts)
bike carrier, kayak mounts, ski carrier, board pads

Roof Rack - Base Rack Systems Depend of Roof Type

bare roof rack diagram

Bare Roof Racks - rest on rubber pad on the roof and clamp into the door openings. This is the most common type of aftermarket rack. Bare roof racks are used on all types of vehicles: cars, CUVs, SUVs, vans and Pickup Trucks. More bare roof rack info

fixed point roof rack diagram

Fixed Point Roof Racks - install to specialized attachment points that the car maker provides on the roof. It is a great attachment method. Fixed points are found mainly on car, CUVs and SUVs. It happens that the same car year, make and model may come both with and without fixed points. More fixed point roof rack info

raised rail roof rack diagram

Raised Rail Roof Racks - The rack cross-bars clamp around the rail. Raised roof rails are found mainly on CUVs and SUVs. More raised rail roof rack info

flush rail roof rack diagram

Flush Rail Roof Racks - The rack clamps to the rail. Note: flush does not mean flat, it means no (or little) room under the rail. Flush roof rails are mainly on CUVs and SUVs. More flush rail roof rack info

To find the roof racks available for your car, please checkout the CargoGear roof rack configuration page. If you are uncertain what type of rack mount is right for your car, give us a call or email us a picture of your car roof:

Choosing a Roof Rack

Rack on all the time? or take rack "on and off"?

square bar diagram square bar diagramSquare and round rack crossbars may (most likey) make a HOWLING NOISE when not loaded with cargo or cargo carriers. So, if you are going to leave racks on all the time you would most likely want to get a wind fairing. If you will be putting the rack on the car and loading it up for a trip, and then taking the rack off after the trip, you may be able to tolerate the noise while you are at your destination or use a short term solution like wrapping the bars with a bungee cord which stops the howling.
wing bar diagram aerodynamic crossbar diagram Aerodynamic and wing bars are much quieter and more aerodynamic. These are a great choice if you will be leaving your roof rack on all the time, they minimize wind noise and add less drag to your car. They are more expensive. A small group of cargo carriers mostly older ones may not have been designed to accomodate the width of aero bars.
Roof Rack Wind Noise

Which rack should I get, How much should I spend?

What is important to consider when choosing a roof rack:
  • Noise - Aero systems make almost no wind noise, square and round bars systems without cargo or fairings might be too noisy for daily driving.
  • Load Capacity - The load capacity of roof racks typically depends on the load rating and shape of the car roof, but the installation location and amount customization of the fit are also important factors. So, the load capacity may vary among the different roof racks. For carrying large cargo, like a canoe or 2 big kayaks, choose steel square (Thule or Inno), steel round (Yakima) bars or rugged alumnium aero bars (Thule or Rhino).
  • Ease of Install - Many Inno racks and carriers have tool free installs. Many Thule, Rhino and Yakima include torque indicating wrenches so you know when the rack are tightened properly. SportRack Frontier Rack Systems are semi-custom, so getting them safely installed to your car takes care and effort. In many cases deciphering the instructions is the hardest part, but you can call or email us here at CargoGear and we will help you out, or call the rack manufacturer.
  • Security - SportRack, Inno and Rhino-Rack base racks include locks, while Thule and Yakima do not. RhinoRack, Thule and Yakima each use the same interchangeable lock cores in all their gear so if you purchase enough lock cores you can use the same key for your rack and your rack accessories.
  • Appearance and Durability - All the racks CargoGear sells will last for years. After years in the sun, colors fade, plastics chalk, things get scratched scraped and dented. For example: Thule and Inno square bars have thick slightly resiliant force fit plastic sleeves, the sleeves are really tough and durable and as one with the crossbar, Sportrack Frontier racks have slip-on slightly thinner plastic sleeves, while very durable, they are not tight and they do squish a little and not pop back so you can see dents and dings, so over time if you install different carriers and a variety of cargo, they will look more banged up than Inno or Thule square bars. Not all paint and plastic are created equal.
  • Compatibility - Most cargo carriers will NOT require adapters for square bar systems. Very many cargo carriers will NOT require adapters for round bar roof rack systems. Some current and older cargo carriers MAY require adapters for aerodynamic bar roof rack systems. CargoGear carrier adapter cross reference.
  • Customization/Quality of Fit -  Thule fit is legendary. Rhino and Inno have highly customized fits. The semi-universal SportRack Frontier rack SR1002, made by Thule, fits over 100 different car models with flat rectangular rubber feet.
  • Brand, brand is important...Thule, Yakima, Inno, RhinoRack and SportRack are all good brands, they all care about their brands, and they all want their brands to stand for great gear.
Bottom Line Recommendations:

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