How to Use Roof Rack Cross Bars

You will see more vehicles on our roads with two bars installed on the roof. They are roof rack crossbars. Surprisingly, many car owners don’t know how to use roof rack crossbars.

Crossbars have many uses despite being simple accessories. This writing will guide you on how to use roof rack cross bars on your car.

As such, many people do improper tie downs that lead to accidents. Secondly, they destroy the car’s roof and cause discomfort to the occupants.

Nevertheless, crossbars are very beneficial in cars. If you regularly travel carrying items, you understand their importance.

At times, you may decide to haul your ladders to the farm, carry sports attires, tents, or a car cover on your trip. Crossbars will save you the money you would use to hire a truck or a van.

Needless to say, crossbars have many uses despite being simple accessories. This writing will guide you on how to use roof rack cross bars on your car.

do you need cross bars for a roof rack
Roof rack on a BMW

How to Use Roof Rack Cross Bars

1.     Secure Your Cargo Directly on the Cross Bars

Crossbars are designed in a manner that they can hold items that run with the car roof’s length. To clarify, they are two bars of the same width as the car’s roof.

On the other hand, crossbars protect the car paint by holding the cargo a few inches from the roof.

However, it would be best to consider various factors before securing cargo on the top. Read on!

Evaluate Your Cargo

First, check on the owner’s manual to know the exact recommended weight your crossbars can hold. Some bars are made of plastic, and others are made of simple aluminum metals that may not withstand too much weight.

If your cargo exceeds the maximum recommended weight, find another hauling option. You may choose to reduce the load or install stronger roof bars.

Further, you can choose to haul a trailer instead.

Read: Ratchet tie down straps

what are roof rack cross bars used for
Roof rack on SUV

If the Weight is Right, Secure Your Cargo

Here is how to use roof rack cross bars to transport your cargo;

Lift the load and set it properly without affecting the vehicle’s performance or safety. If the load is longer than the roof, put it in line with the front edge and let it hang on the back.

Unfortunately, if it hangs over the windshield, it may affect driver visibility and vehicle stability.

Ensure your cargo is secured correctly using these methods;

  • Ratchet tie-downs

Many people ask how to use ratchet straps on roof rack. Ratchet tie-down involves two straps with hooks that you attach to the roof’s edges.

At the central part, there is a ratchet that you use to tighten the straps and lock them. Be careful not to overtighten and damage your cargo if it’s fragile.

  • Bungee straps

Bungee straps have a tensioner that you use to adjust their length depending on your cargo size. Like the ratchet straps, they have hooks that you attach at each edge and then stretch to secure.

  • Web strapping

Web straps come with a fastening buckle. To secure the load, you attach them from each end and lock them at the central part.

  • Rope

A rope is the cheapest method you can use. Nearly all car owners know how to tie something to a roof rack with rope.

To avoid sliding while at high speed, use heavy-duty knots.

Inspect Your Cargo After Securing

Go round the car to confirm your cargo is safe for hauling. Check each knot and inspect your straps if they are worn out.

Remember to take note of your state’s traffic rules before hauling cargo on the car’s roof.

Drive Carefully and Regularly Inspect Your Cargo Throughout the Journey

Check your cargo after a few miles of driving if you are traveling for a long distance. You can schedule regular stops at several gas stations.

2. Add a Roof Box to Your Cross Bars

A roof box is a storage container installed on the crossbars. It’s more secure because you will lock your items inside.

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Roof boxes are limited in length, especially when transporting longer items like wooden bars or ladders.

If you are traveling with your family or friends, a roof box can serve you best if the trunk is full.

Check on the benefits of installing a roof box;

Additional storage

If the trunk is full, you can store other items inside the roof box, provided you observe the load capacity.

Interior comfort

Too much luggage in the trunk can cause heat inside the car. Storing some of the items in the roof box will give more room and enhance comfortability.

Weather protection

The box has a locking mechanism to protect your items from weather. If you store clothing and sensitive items, they will remain protected.


Sometimes, burglars look through the window to identify the items they would steal when you park your car.

Luckily, a roof box is closed; hence no one can see the items inside.

Secondly, the box is installed on the roof, making it hard for the thieves to break without being noticed.


The roof box has a sleek design, which helps in car aerodynamics.

FAQs Before Installing Cross Bars On Your Car

Do they Fit in My Car?

Manufacturers have various designs and lengths of crossbars depending on car models and make. You should figure out if they fit your car.

How Much Do they Cost?

You would want to check on the costs first before purchasing.

What Do I need to Transport?

The type of cargo determines the kind of cross bars you will purchase.

Will they Affect My Cars Performance?

First, consider aerodynamics before installing the bars. If they negatively affect the vehicle performance, you better choose other ways of Transport.

What’s the Difference Between a Roof Rack and Cross Bars?

Crossbars are a set of two, while the roof racks have several crossbars. Additionally, a roof rack has a modular design.

What are Roof Rack Crossbars for?

Roof rack crossbars allow you to secure larger items on your vehicle roof, especially if your trunk is full.

How Will Roof Rack Affect Your Car?

A roof rack increases a car’s wind resistance. It can affect performance and cause poor gas mileage. Before installing one, learn how to use roof rack cross bars for better vehicle performance and safe hauling.

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