When it comes to installing a roof rack to your vehicle, the time it takes to complete the task depends entirely on the rack itself, mostly the type of roof rack it is and whether or not you roof rails to install it on or not.
If the roof rack you just bought requires roof rails and you don’t have, it’ll naturally take a little longer because you’ll have to first install the roof rails before you go any further.
Just the Basics
The question, how long does it take to fit a roof rack, can be answered in more detail once you determine how the rack is attached to your vehicle. Roof racks are usually connected one of two ways:
- Attached to the car itself, in which case there are usually brackets that fit over the side of the vehicle gutters and through the car doors themselves to secure it; or
- Attached to a roof rails that is already attached to your vehicle, which usually consists of either roof bars or cross racks that clamp onto the factory roof rails.
Fortunately, in both of these cases you can easily learn which steps to take to get the roof rack installed properly because there are usually step-by-step, detailed instructions in the package.
Furthermore, since most roof racks come with everything you need to install them properly, you can have most of these roof racks installed and secure in under an hour, sometimes under 30 minutes.
Are Tools Required to Install a Roof Rack?
Fortunately, most current roof racks come with the brackets, wrenches, and other items you need to properly install them to your vehicle, so they require no tools or special equipment to get the job done.
This means that even if you aren’t the most mechanically inclined person on the planet, you can still install your roof rack quickly and without stress, thanks to clear directions and user manuals.
On the rare occasion when you buy a roof rack that does require extra implements, the only tools usually required are the simple ones, so you should already have those tools on hand.
If you’ve never installed a roof rack before, not to worry because many of them can be installed using a little common sense and little else – although it is always wise to pay attention to the detailed instructions that come with the product!
A Few Tips to Make the Task Easier
Even though the job of installing a roof rack is usually much easier than you think, there are still some basic tips that apply to most of these racks that can help you install them perfectly every time. Some of those tips include:
- Make sure the top of your vehicle is clean and dry before installing your roof rack; or better still, place a non-slip mat on top of the roof before installing the rack.
- Don’t line up the front end of the roof rack with the very front of your windshield; the room between the windshield and the front of the roof rack should be roughly 8 inches.
- Watch where and how you place the brackets that attach the carrier to the roof; pay attention to the directions because if the brackets slant too far to one side, the roof rack may start to move in that direction after you’ve been driving for a while.
- Never load too much weight on the roof rack; in other words, if the carrier manufacturer says the maximum weight is 80 lbs., you should not go over that limit, not even by one pound.
- When you’re fastening down the roof rack with the brackets, try not to fasten it one side completely first as this will cause it to be fitted miss-aligned and will cause further vehicle damage or fitment coming loose later on.
Lastly, you should always do exactly what the instructions tell you to do – nothing more, nothing less. Never use tools or additional brackets or screws that aren’t made specifically for that particular roof rack.
These things may cause the roof rack to become too loose or even increase wind-resistance, which in turn can cause you to increase the amount of gas you use when driving.
A Video: How To Install a Roof Rack on Your Vehicle
Some Final Thoughts
Asking yourself, how long does it take to fit a roof rack, is only natural, but you should know that the amount of time required to install a rack to your car’s roof can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as an hour.
Of course, even spending an hour on this task is not that long, so even if you wait until right before you take off on your vacation to install your roof rack, you should have enough time to finish the job. We do recommend testing it a few days around your house and the area you live in before setting off, just to make sure everything works the way it should and fits well and tight before going far from home.
Roof racks are perfect for people who like to take along lots of items when camping, fishing, or going on family vacations. They are reasonably priced, built to last, and best of all, easy and fast to install, especially when you decide beforehand to pay attention to the instruction guide so that everything turns out perfect in the end.
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How Much Weight Can a Roof Rack Hold?
As a general rule, most roof racks and roof bars can hold anywhere from 75 to 250 pounds of gear and equipment but that usually includes the weight of the rack or bars itself as well as the items on top of it. You should also check with your car's manual in case the vehicle itself has any special limitations.