How to Secure Items to a Roof Rack Properly (2022)

man placing stuff on roof rack
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    A roof rack is a great accessory to add to your vehicle. It allows you to transport different gear while making room for other items in the cab of your car.

    But if you don’t have your items securely tied to your roof rack, you can lose all your gear and make it dangerous for everyone driving around you. That’s why you need to know how to properly secure items to a roof rack.

    How to Secure Items to a Roof Rack

    Step One: Check Your Owner’s Manual

    You need to know how much weight your car can safely carry on its roof. This information will be found in the owner’s manual. Never place more weight on your roof rack than your car can handle. This can be extremely dangerous to you and other motorists around you.

    Step Two: Choose Your Placement on the Roof

    Roof racks allow you to carry a variety of items. You can place cargo carriers on your roof to store items inside, including suitcases and other types of gear, or you can carry items like kayaks or paddleboards on your roof.

    When securing items to your roof, make sure you know where to place them on your roof. For cargo carriers, they should be placed in the center of the roof rack so that the weight and aerodynamics are distributed evenly.

    Longer items like kayaks should always hang over the back of your car. Try to avoid any items that overhang the front of your roof. Overhanging items can be dangerous. They can catch the wind and become dislodged from the roof rack. Overhanging items can also become damaged or can damage your vehicle.

    Step Three: Use Proper Tie-Downs

    You will need to use proper tie-downs to ensure the load you carry stays in place. The best tie-downs for items on a roof rack are ratchet straps. Ratchet straps work better than bungee cords and ropes because you can secure your items in place simply by ratcheting the straps to make them tighter to keep your items in place.

    Pro tip: Make sure you don’t ratchet the straps too tightly. You can easily damage your items and car by ratcheting the straps around your items tighter than they need to be. Some people avoid using ratchet straps altogether for this reason, but we don’t think they should be avoided just for that reason. As long as you know not to ratchet too tight, you’ll be fine.

    Step Four: Reinforce With Additional Tie-Downs

    Use the ratchet straps to secure the items in place, and then use bungee cords or rope to reinforce the load. You can use them in various places across your load to ensure the items stay in place. When using ropes, make sure you tie strong knots, so they don’t come undone while driving.

    Step Five: Inspect Your Load

    Now that you’ve secured your items to your roof rack using ratchet straps, bungee cords, and rope, you need to inspect the load. Walk around your vehicle and pull on the items to see if they move. If the load moves at all, tighten the tie-downs that you used. Double-check all knots if you used rope to ensure they don’t come undone.

    securing stuff on rack

    Check Your Load Down the Road

    After you have driven a few miles down the road, pull over to recheck your load to make sure your load hasn’t shifted or that any of your tie-downs have come undone or loose.

    If your load looks good, you can continue on your trip, or you’ll need to reinforce your load to keep it secure. You can check your load again throughout your trip or every time you make a stop.

    Bottom Line

    Use ratchet straps to secure items to a roof rack properly, and add bungee cords or ropes to reinforce the load. Check your load before you go and then once again down the road. Each time you stop on your trip, check your items to ensure everything is still in place.

    Narcis Bejtic