How to attach things to the roof of your car


Say you go out during the holidays and you get a Christmas tree that is Griswold level crap. Or you have an old fashioned 17 foot aluminum canoe. Or you like to surf. Or you drive your nasty old mattress to landfill after failing to unload it on Craigslist fools. No matter the size of your car, you won’t fit any of this inside. No, you will want to tie these things to your roof.

But when attaching hardware to your roof, be sure to do it correctly. A US government study found that in 2010, around 51,000 crashes, 10,000 injuries, and 440 deaths were caused by objects falling from another vehicle, and you don’t want to contribute to such statistics. That’s why we spoke to Jonny Wood – one of Yakima’s four “road warriors” who roam the United States educating the masses on how to properly store their vehicles – and asked them for advice on how to properly secure a load on the roof of a car. .

Acquire ropes and straps. Wood recommends a strap with an attachment buckle that does not use a ratchet system. According to Wood, ratchet systems “apply a significant crushing force to whatever you move, so you can go beyond what’s necessary on both whatever you’re carrying as well as the vehicle.” “. If you go for ratchets, just beware of how hard you squeeze. Wood also discourages bungee cords as they are too prone to flex when driving at high speeds and cause loads to shift and possibly leak. Nylon rope also works, but be prepared to tie some trucker’s knots.

Assess the situation of your rack. “There are really three types of scenarios for your roof,” Wood said. “There is the scenario where there is absolutely nothing on top of your roof. Then there is the scenario where you have side rails and then a scenario where you have side rails and crossbars. Wood says side rails and crossbars are ideal, but you can move whatever you need without them. In the case of a bare roof, you must pass the rope through the car (through the doors, not windows) and around the object on the roof, and a towel or blanket should be used to protect your car’s roof from the object. If you have side rails and crossbars, the straps can be wrapped around them.

Placement matters. The placement of the article is important to do well. In the case of a bare roof you are somewhat limited, but in this situation it is ideal that the object is centered with the doors of your car so that most of the object is attached in the same way. more sure. If you have side rails the most important thing is to reduce the amount of drag the item will make by placing the front of it in line with the start of the roof (or moving it as far as possible) . When the object is suspended above the windshield, it causes an updraft force on the car, “because more of that object catches the wind and causes it to move away from the vehicle upward. “said Wood.

In the event of an overhang, anchor longitudinally. If you are tying something particularly long, like a tree or a canoe, overhang is inevitable. In this case, you will want to anchor the item not only to the bracket, but also to the front and rear of the vehicle. “The real big no-no is hanging on to a plastic bumper,” said Wood. “Find a metal structure at the back of the car. On the front of the car it is not as easy to find one, so you can get something called Hood Loops anchor loops. Open your hood and you will find bolts on the sides to which you can attach these loops … which create an anchor point.

Adjust your driving. Wood said most car roof rack systems have a dynamic roof load of around 165 pounds. This means that, assuming you’ve tied everything up properly and your load doesn’t exceed that weight, you should be able to drive as you normally would at highway speeds. However, if you intend to haul more or don’t have a roof rack, you should drive slower, as the extra weight on your roof can negatively affect your car’s handling and aerodynamics.

Check the load. Naturally, you’ll want to stress test before you go by pushing and pulling on the object to make sure it’s in place. But it shouldn’t end there. “If you are taking a long highway trip, plan your trip accordingly, or in the first five miles after driving at high speed, [stop and] double check everything to make sure everything is okay, ”said Wood. “This is one of the great things we recommend – check it out after you get used to driving in the real world. ”

Additional illustrations by Silvana Volio de la Fuente

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