How will a roof rack affect your cars performance?

Having a roof rack on your car is beneficial if you’re trying to move luggage or luxuries from A to B.

Some roof racks even look good on a car! (Volvo C30’s come to mind).

However, at the same time, there’s many negatives that come with a roof rack.

They’ll definitely effect how your car drives, and it gets even worse once you’ve got something attached to them, be it a bike, or roof box.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to make your car absolutely horrible to drive but it will affect its performance and the way that you should drive.

How Will A Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

The main reason anyone buys roof bars is because of the extra storage possibilities. There’s absolutely no doubt about this.

Adding a roof rack to your car will open up the possibility of a roof box, or you can simply tie things to them, such as a bike, snow board or even fishing rods.

The roof bars themselves will affect your cars performance, but only slightly.

The big difference comes when you add a roof box.

Here’s a couple of things to think about when installing roof racks, roof boxes and other attachments.

Makes Your Car Slower

Depending on the type of person you are and the car that you’re driving, roof racks slowing down your car could be the deciding factor between getting some or not.

There’s a couple of reasons why your car will become slower.

For starters, It’s extra weight on your car.

Again, if it’s just the roof racks, they’re not too heavy. However, once you add a roof box into the picture and pack it full of luggage, you could have an extra 100kg+ on top of your car.

You’ll also find that the roof racks add extra wind resistance to your car.

If you have a car with reasonable power, this probably isn’t a huge deal. But if you put roof racks on an old micra, or sub 100 bhp vehicle, it could be very painful, especially if you’re driving into the wind.

Handling & Ride Stability

Adding roof racks & boxes to your car will increase the height of your car and add extra drag.

Of course, you can get aerodynamic boxes but they’re still going to make your car perform worse than not having bars or boxes on your car.

Because of the added weight and drag, you could find that the handling and cornering is worse.

You may also find that your car is being blown about a lot more in high winds. Completely changing your driving experience.

Again this will be more noticeable on certain cars. I think if you have an Audi A6 or some other saloon, it’ll be barely noticeable.

Having A Roof Box Can Result In Detours

Putting things on top of your car will increase the overall height of your vehicle.

Most of the time you’re going to be fine. You’ll be able to get under most bridges with a roof racks on. However, car parks and certain fast food drive thrus also have height requirements.

When you have roof racks or items on top of your vehicle, just pay attention to where your driving and the height clearances.

It will affect you at some point.

You don’t want to be that person that rips their $7000 bike off the top of their car because they forgot it was even there.

Not only was his bike a complete write off, the roof of his car was destroyed!

Roof Rack Alternative

If your car is completely packed and you don’t want to add roof racks to your car, I completely understand.

There are some alternatives to adding roof racks, however, I consider them to be worse options.

You could get a bigger car.

Obviously this is an extreme step, but, if you’re always finding yourself short of space, it could be time to upgrade.

Alternatively, if it’s a one off and you’re just moving goods from A to B, you could rent a bigger car or even a van.

The second option would be to buy or rent a trailer.

I’m not a fan of this option, because its way more inconvenient.

Driving with a trailer is a completely different experience and once you factor in the cost of renting or buying a trailer, it’s just not worth it. (in my opinion).

Finally, you could run multiple cars.

Obviously this isn’t an option for everyone. However, if you’re going on a family holiday and your partner also has a car, why not fill up two cars and take them both?

The same goes for moving goods from A to B, find a friend with a car that’d be willing to help out and pay them for their time, or at least cover the fuel expenses.

If you’re installing roof racks for the aesthetics, then you need to weigh up the pros and cons. Yes, your car could look much cooler, but at the cost of decreased handling and speed.