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Guide to Roof Racks

Car Roof Rack

Almost every 4WD that is used for camping or outback travel will have some sort of roof rack. The question is not usually whether to have a rack, the question is what is the best way to use the space. Some people mount tents, small boats on the roof, mount solar panels, or even equipment for trade workers. Most just use the roof rack for more storage space, often for items like petrol or fishing gear that are best left outside of the vehicle.

It helps to know about the different types of roof racks and the requirements for loading them.


  • The roof rack will raise the height of the vehicle to some extent. As 4WDs are already larger than most cars this height increase is adding to something that the driver is already aware of. The unloaded roof rack should not be more than 120 mm higher than the vehicle. It will be much higher when loaded.
  • Centre of Gravity. This is easily overlooked, but a weight on the roof raises the centre of gravity of the vehicle, making it less stable. It will affect the handling.
  • Weight limits. a decent-sized vehicle will be able to carry 50 kg to 100 kg on the roof, but this includes the weight of the roof rack itself. So a lighter roof rack, usually aluminium, is preferable.


  • Side-to-side Roof bars – These are the simplest type of rack but also the least versatile. they are fine for fishing gear or surfboards. And they cause minimal air resistance, so they only have a slight impact on the fuel economy.
  • Front-to-Back Roof Bars – Some vehicles have these as a standard feature or as the most basic optional extra. These are of little use on their own, but they can be used for mounting detachable side-to-side roof bars when needed. Or for mounting other racks.
    Front-to-back bars have almost no air resistance.
  • Baskets – These are simply wire baskets for carrying moderate loads. Some are detachable. They only cause moderate air resistance.
    The wire of the baskets provides many places to tie down the load.
  • Cages – These are a larger and heavier version of the basket, and cover the entire length of the roof. They are quite versatile and can carry some fairly heavy loads. but they do cause considerable drag, so the vehicle uses more fuel.
    The wire of the cage provides many places to tie down the load.

Roof Racks in Perth

A custom roof rack is always the best option. We have roof racks designed for every make and model of vehicle.

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