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Add-On Roof Racks for Securing Cargoes

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Add-On Roof Racks for Securing Cargoes

Johnathon Black
29 January 2013


Not all vehicles, even those considered as off-road vehicles, have built-in roof racks. Many on-road vehicles need customizable roof racks for added loads. These are particularly important when it comes to family size vehicles such as vans and SUVs. These vehicles may have internal compartments for luggage but the compartments may not have sufficient space.

Furthermore, there are also some loads that are either too bulky or inappropriate to be placed in the interior compartments. For example, a cooler containing fresh fish might be too smelly to be put inside the automobile. On the other hand, bicycles and other bulky sports equipment will simply not fit inside a van or SUV.

Add-on, aftermarket roof racks are excellent solutions for improving the load capacity of an automobile. Most of these racks are designed to secure a wide range of bulky loads, from ordinary luggage to surf boards. These racks typically have a load maximum capacity of up to 200 pounds. However, the actual load capacity of the automobile roof may be lower than this. The roof capacity of roofs is usually specific depending on the automobile model or make. If the weight of the load exceeds the designated load capacity, the roof is likely to fold down or collapse under the excess weight.

The racks themselves do not necessarily secure the cargoes on the roofs. They merely serve as anchors for the straps and buckles. Aside from leather straps, ropes, bungee cords and metal braces may be used to secure loads. These are attached to the racks, which are bolted onto the roof. The stability of the cargoes will depend on several factors. The two main factors are the following: how tightly the straps are tied or buckled and how much amount of surface friction is exerted by the surface of the rack.

Racks have three common components, namely, side rails or tracks, towers and mounts. These components sometimes have rubber protective covers. They are commonly constructed from aluminum and/or stainless steel. The side rails prevent the cargoes from trashing around when the automobile is moving. They serve as anchors for the straps, ropes or bungee cords. The towers are the ones that serve as clamps. The mounts are the ones that provide security for the bulkier items.

Older vehicle models typically have their roof racks mounted onto the gutter that surrounds the roof line. This type of design is a bit unreliable and difficult to customize. On the other hand, modern vehicle models do not have these features. The racks are installed by attaching the hooks on top of the frames of the doors, making it structurally more robust.


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