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Roof Rack Information

Custom Fit Roof Rack

Roof Racks

Whether you simply don't have the space inside your car or you would rather not clutter your cargo area, a roof rack will provide you with a space-saving alternative for carrying cargo and equipment. You can mount large and unwieldy items that will not fit inside your car or SUV. You can fill a rooftop cargo carrier with wet or dirty gear to ensure that your trunk or cargo area remains clean and dry. And you can quickly and easily get your sporting gear to the trail, beach, lake or mountain.


With a roof rack you can securely transport:






How to Choose a Roof Rack


What Do You Want to Carry?

The first step when choosing a roof-rack system is determining what it is that you want to carry or, more precisely, how you intend to use your rack. If you're a contractor, for example, and you may end up using your roof rack for work equipment, then Rhino-Rack's Heavy-Duty square crossbars will likely be a good choice. If, on the other hand, you wish to carry only a couple of bikes, then any bars will suffice.


Most roof-rack-mounted carriers and accessories will fit nearly all square, round, aero and elliptical bars on the market. But if you have a specific idea of what you want to transport, then you may want to consider choosing your carrier first so you don't run into any compatibility issues.


To learn more about the different types of racks and accessories, click on the following links:


Roof Rack Accessories

What Is a Roof Rack Able to Carry?

The type and amount of cargo or equipment that you can carry with your roof rack is largely dependent on your specific application and the type(s) of carriers that you choose. To a certain extent, you can estimate how many or how few carriers you can fit onto your rack based on the crossbar length.



Typically, if your crossbars measure up to 50" long, you can carry the following:


If you use bars that are between 53" and 60" long, you can carry approximately:


If you use bars that are longer than 60", you can carry approximately:


Always be aware of weight limitations. The maximum capacity of your roof-rack system will be dependent on the lowest-rated part of the system. So, if you have a roof-mounted cargo box that has a weight capacity of 150 lbs, roof-rack crossbars that are rated at 200 lbs, and these are on a roof rated at 100 lbs, then you cannot load more than 100 lbs.


To determine your roof's maximum weight capacity, check your vehicle's owner's manual. Typically, your vehicle will be the limiting factor.





What Type of Roof Rack is Right for Your Vehicle?

The other factor that will certainly affect what you can carry on your vehicle's roof is the roof itself. We have an in-house Roof Rack Application Guide that will help you determine which rack systems are best suited for your vehicle. Most setups are vehicle specific, from the recommended length of the crossbars to the custom foot packs.


Typically, you will have a few choices in roof-rack systems so that can you pick your crossbar style. One area in which you will not have as many choices, though, is the mounting kits, most of which are vehicle specific. Our fitguide will walk you through the process of finding the perfect rack for your application, but before looking up your vehicle, you need to be able to differentiate between the different roof types. This will help to ensure that you get a kit that offers a perfect fit.


Your vehicle's roof should fall into one of the following categories:



Roof Racks for Vehicles with a Naked Roof

Naked Roof-2008 Honda CR-V Naked Roof-1998 Ford Taurus

Vehicles with naked roofs have no tracks or rails. With a naked roof, you need a fit kit, foot pack and crossbars to create a complete roof-rack system. The etrailer.com fitguide will automatically group these items together for you to make choosing and ordering your roof rack easy.


These pictures detail the components required for a naked-roof vehicle.

A. Each fit kit is custom-designed to create the best, strongest fit for your specific vehicle. These kits include pads that contour to your vehicle's roof and sturdy clips that fasten to the outer edges of your roof, either by connecting to pre-drilled holes (as seen in the first image) or by clamping around the door jamb (as in the second image).


B. The podium-style foot pack includes four feet that connect to the custom fit kit and provide attachment points for the roof-rack crossbars.


C. The crossbars (or load bars) are the last part of the system to be installed. These provide the usable portion of your roof-rack system where any carriers or accessories will be mounted.


Roof Rack Components-2003 Volkswagan Jetta Roof Rack Components-2001 Dodge Neon
Roof Rack Short Roof Adapter

Occasionally, certain naked-roof vehicles require a short-roof adapter. This item is most commonly used on small two-door vehicles with short or curved rooflines. A short-roof adapter:


Short-roof adapters are custom fit. Adapters are available for the following crossbars:


Shop Custom-Fit Roof Racks



Roof Racks for Vehicles with Factory-Installed Raised Side Rails

Round Side Rails-2007 Nissan QuestSquare Side Rails-2006 Saturn Vue

Raised side rails are most common on minivans and SUVs. They run from front to back on your vehicle and can provide attachment points for an aftermarket roof-rack system. To mount a roof rack on a vehicle with this type of roof, you will need a foot pack and crossbars.


Roof Rack Components on Side Rails

The pictures above detail the components required for a vehicle with raised side rails.

A. The foot pack for factory rails includes four feet that clamp onto or wrap around your vehicle's side rails and provide mounting points for the roof-rack crossbars.


B. The crossbars (or load bars) are the last part of the system to be installed. These provide the usable portion of your roof-rack system where any carriers or accessories will be mounted.


Shop Custom-Fit Roof Racks



Roof Racks for Vehicles with Factory-Installed Flush Side Rails

Flush Factory Rails on 2012 Jeep Cherokee

Factory flush rails run from front to back on your vehicle and may provide attachment points for an aftermarket roof-rack system. To mount a roof rack on a vehicle with this type of roof, you will need a fit kit, foot pack and crossbars.


Thule Podium Feet on 2012 Jeep CherokeeThule Fit Kit on 2012 Jeep Cherokee

The pictures above detail the components required for a vehicle with flush factory rails.

A. Each fit kit is custom-designed to create the best, strongest fit for your specific vehicle. These kits mount to your factory rails.


B. The podium-style foot pack includes four feet that connect to the custom fit kit and provide attachment points for the roof-rack crossbars.


C. The crossbars (or load bars) are the last part of the system to be installed. These provide the usable portion of your roof-rack system where any carriers or accessories will be mounted.


Shop Custom-Fit Roof Racks



Roof Racks for Vehicles with Factory-Installed Flat Tracks

Tracks-Mercury Villager

Factory flat tracks run from front to back on your vehicle and can provide attachment points for an aftermarket roof-rack system. To mount a roof rack on a vehicle with this type of roof, you will need a fit kit, foot pack and crossbars.


Tracks-Mercury Villager

The pictures above detail the components required for a vehicle with flat tracks.

A. Each fit kit is custom-designed to create the best, strongest fit for your specific vehicle. These kits mount to your factory track rack.


B. The podium-style foot pack includes four feet that connect to the custom fit kit and provide attachment points for the roof-rack crossbars.


C. The crossbars (or load bars) are the last part of the system to be installed. These provide the usable portion of your roof-rack system where any carriers or accessories will be mounted.


Shop Custom-Fit Roof Racks



Vehicles That Have Factory-Installed Roof Racks with Crossbars

Factory Crossbars-2001 Subaru Outback

If your vehicle came equipped with a roof rack that has crossbars, you may not need an aftermarket roof-rack system. Most roof-rack-mounted carriers and accessories on the market will fit factory load bars. If the carrier that you would like to use does not fit your factory bars, adapters may be available.


Be sure to check your owner's manual for the capacity of your factory roof-rack system. Many OEM racks are designed more for aesthetics than utility and, therefore, are not built to support much weight. If you intend to use your roof rack for heavy loads, you may want to add aftermarket crossbars to boost the carrying capacity of your system. To do this, follow the instructions for Factory-Installed Raised Side Rails.





Types of Roof-Rack Crossbars

The fun part of choosing an aftermarket roof rack is picking the type of crossbars that you want your system to have. Sometimes this will be determined by the application or what you intend to use the rack for. For example, if you want to carry lumber or ladders with your system, Rhino-Rack's Heavy-Duty bars might be a good fit. There are multiple accessories that cater more to contractors and fit only these bars.


For the most part, roof-rack-mounted accessories and carriers that clamp onto or wrap around load bars will fit all types of bars. There are always exceptions though, so be sure to read accessory product descriptions carefully when determining compatibility.


Crossbar TypeShapeWind NoiseDragTop SlotsConstruction
Thule AeroBlade BarAero/Kamm-tail-likeLeast of all barsMinimalYesAluminum
Thule Rapid Aero BarOval/EllipticalMinimalMinimalYesAluminum
Rhino-Rack Aero BarOval/EllipticalMinimalMinimalYesAluminum
Yakima Round BarsRoundFairing recommendedFairing recommendedNoVinyl-coated steel
Rhino-Rack Heavy-Duty BarSquareConsiderableConsiderableC-channelsAluminum
Thule Square BarSquareFairing recommendedFairing recommendedNoPlastic-coated steel

Thule AeroBlade Bars

Thule AeroBlade Load Bars

Thule Rapid Aero Bars

Thule Rapid Aero Load Bars

Rhino-Rack Aero Bars

Rhino Rack Aero Cross Bars

Yakima Round Bars

Yakima Cross Bars

Rhino-Rack Heavy-Duty Bars

Rhino Rack Heavy Duty Cross Bars

Thule Square Bars

Thule Square Load Bars




Jim D.

3/5/2022

I have a 2019 Audi SQ5 that has factory rails, front to back. It has crossbars but I’m thinking their load rating is lower than I need. I want to carry a kayak that weighs around 140 lbs. Can you advise?

Les D.

3/7/2022

@JimD you will need to consult your owners manual for confirmation. Many locations on the internet place the capacity at 165 pounds.

Angela B.

1/21/2022

i didn't realize that racks could fit on smaller cars.

James M.

9/13/2021

Hi...we love eTrailer and have bought all our racks and accessories from you...you are the best! We are getting a new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, which comes with the built in Stow 'n Place roof rack system. At first this seemed nice...until we realized you only have about 39" of linear space with this system. We own a 58" Malone AirFlow2 Roof Rack (bought from you!) for our Odyssey (with factory raised side rails) that allows us to fit a Thule box + 2 pair ski carrier side-by-side. We use most of the 58" in this set-up and there is no way 39" will be enough for both accessories. Is there any way to put an aftermarket system on top of the 2021 Pacifica? Can we just ignore the built in system, treat it like a naked roof and attach some rails and then put our own footers and crossbars on it? If so, what system would you recommend? Any inputs on how to make this work so we can get use of the longer cross bars would be appreciated! Thanks for the awesome expertise!

Etrailer Expert

Victoria B.

9/14/2021

I wish I had an aftermarket rack solution for you, but currently there are no aftermarket fits for your 2021 Pacifica. It doesn't look like manufacturers have fit for older model Pacificas either. Rack fits are designed and created based on interest, and since there is a factory option, most likely there hasn't been enough demand to design an aftermarket rack for the Pacifica. Once you know what cargo you normally carry on your roof will no longer fit due to shorter crossbars, we can explore other carrying options so you can still take all of your gear.

James M.

9/14/2021

@VictoriaB Thanks so much for the reply. I kind of assumed the same on market demand with a factory installed solution. So, even the "naked roof" rail systems are model specific? They are not general enough with some bases + rail runners that you an install on the roof and then from there build up your system? I was picturing something like this...https://www.etrailer.com/Roof-Rack/Rhino-Rack/RRRLT600.html. Even if not confirmed to fit the 2021 Pacifica, are these systems general enough that an aftermarket install shop could make them work? (I know you can't guarantee it, of course...interested in your expert opinion only!) Thanks so much!
Etrailer Expert

Victoria B.

10/12/2021

@JamesM You could certainly have a shop install tracks like the Rhino Rack RTC or RT-Style Tracks on your Pacifica and build a rack up from there like you mentioned. You hit the nail on the head that those systems are not tested and confirmed on specific vehicles, but can still be made to work. Many folks would get really uncomfortable at the thought of drilling into the roof of their brand new vehicle in order to install a track system like this, so it isn't an option we explore very often but it certainly can be done. I have linked all of the track options that we currently have so you can check them out. Then you would need a foot pack like the product you referenced. Crossbars would finish the system out, and the length you need would depend on how wide your roof is. Some crossbars styles can fit any width, but other crossbars are designed to mount within a certain width - all things a good shop would help you take into consideration while planning your build. A track system like this will also allow you to space the crossbars out as wide or as narrow as you need them for whatever accessories you are using, like a cargo box and ski carriers.

Susan A.

9/3/2021

I have a 2015 Ford transit connect wagon. Will the sportrack 1003 complete roof rack fit?

Etrailer Expert

Victoria B.

9/14/2021

The SportRack # SR1003 system is a semi-custom fit rack. While it does fit a large number of different vehicles, it is not a fit for the Transit Connect. I have attached a link to all of the roof rack options that are confirmed to fit your 2015 Transit Connect.

Sid

8/15/2021

I recently leased a 2021 Nissan Kicks with a naked roof. However after having it for two and a half months, I find that a roof rack system would be helpful for items that won't fit inside. On a long drive I don't like leaving the hatch open for fear of the exhaust fumes. Is there a possible way to obtain side rails that would like as factory install or that would work without marring the paint or drilling holes as it a a lease vehicle. I tried my older roof carrier that worked on my other Nissans, but the door edges on the Kicks are more rounded and the clamps slip off when tightened down. Can you suggest what I could do as I'm not supposed to modify the vehicle unless using Nissan parts. Thanks all!

Etrailer Expert

Victoria B.

8/19/2021

While we don't have any kind of aftermarket raised side rails for your Kicks, if your vehicle has flush mounted side rails, we have roof rack options that you could install without making any modifications to the vehicle. If you have flush mounted side rails on your Kicks, these roof rack options install via an existing fixed mounting point along this flush rail. I have linked all of the custom fit roof rack options for your Kicks.


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