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Guide: Choosing and Buying a Roof Rack For A 4WD Vehicle

Guide: Choosing and Buying a Roof Rack For A 4WD Vehicle

Transporting your surfboard, snow skis, kayak, camping gear or bike is made easier with a set of roof racks for your 4WD. Bars N Racks are a genuine, reliable roof racks provider in Sydney, and we have a large variety to range of roof racks to fit most vehicles and can assist you with all your fitting requirements also. Adding some things onto you roof leaves you more room inside your vehicle so that all your passengers have enough room to feel comfortable while you are on the road. You need to make sure you have good quality tie down to secure your loose items into the roof racks.


Roof racks aren’t just for storing things on the roof, if you like camping or enjoying things on the great outdoors you can add some shade for your trip by adding a side awning that easily folds up when not in use.

What is the best type of roof racks for my vehicle?

Roof racks come in different designs from different manufacturers. All have the basic concept, some are for general use, some are permanently foxed on the vehicle and others can be removed. Bars N Racks has a range of 4WD accessories shop in Sydney and have a team that can source the best options for your needs and for what will fit your vehicle.

The roof rack you settle on needs to be dependent on:

  • The vehicle size and the maximum weight the roof and vehicle can handle (Your car manual will clearly show this)
  • What are you planning on using the roof rack for? (e.g., camping, skiing, fishing or water sports)
  • You need to work out all the items you need to take at one time on the roof to ensure you do not overload the roof in weight.
  • Decide if you want roof racks you can remove or keep locked onto the roof of the vehicle.
  • How long are the roof racks needing to last? The lifetime of the vehicle or just something you can put on and off a few times a year.

What roof racks are the best ones to purchase?

There are a few simple steps that we can break down how to choose a roof rack.

1. Types of Racks

There are two types of roof racks, but they are designed for two different types of vehicle roof designs, and you need to determine this before you make your purchase.

Rail Roof Racks.

The rail roof racks clamp onto the vehicle and are the simplest set to install.

The raised bars run down the length of your vehicle.

Gutter Roof Racks.

Gutter roof racks mount onto a fitting clip that is sold separately and has to be compatible with the gutters (otherwise known as side groves on the roof). You will be asked what you intend on using them for and you need to know they are a bit more work.

Firstly, check your vehicle to see what style of roof line you have and if you are not 100% sure check your vehicle manual. Some roof racks are designed for specific sporting equipment and mount onto the roof rack system to make life easier when you need to carry bulky items.

  • Bike racks- can carry one or more bikes for you to take to competitions or camping with the family.
  • Canoe racks- suitable to carry one or two canoes so the family can have some fun out on the water.
  • Kayak racks- Carry one or more kayaks so the family or friends can enjoy some time together
  • Stand up paddle board racks- Frees up room inside the vehicle and allows you to go out alone on the water or spend time with family and friends.

Weight is vital when choosing the right roof racks

You need to consider weight when choosing the correct roof racks for your vehicle as the roof of your vehicle has a separate weight rating to the rating of the set of roof racks you purchase. You must always follow the weight of the roof of the vehicle. If you load more than the vehicle manufacturers recommendation on your roof (including the weight if the roof racks) you risk not being covered under insurance, should you be involved in an accident and need to make a claim.

*Rack Weight- roof racks are designed to manage different weights; this is where you need to check the limit your roof can carry and the weight you plan on adding to the roof.

*Roof Weight- different car designs are made to carry different weights on the roof, you need to confirm this weight in your manual for the maximum weight allowed to be added to your roof but remember this needs to include the weight of the roof racks themselves.

*Vehicle Weight- Every vehicle has a maximum weight, this is often called the payload weight in your manual, and this is designed to cover the passengers, cargo, gear on roof racks, fuel and anything else you have added to the vehicle. You need to look at the numbers as you cannot overload your vehicle.

Maintaining your weight limits is vital for safety and legal reasons.

  • Insurance- Your insurance claim can be rejected if it is proven your vehicle was overweight
  • Centre of gravity- Adding too much weight to the roof of the vehicle can cause the vehicle to tip.
  • Petrol- The heavier the vehicle the more fuel you will go through
  • Handling- Too much weight can affect the way your vehicle handles on the road
  • Police- If the vehicle is overweight and someone is injured as a result you risk being prosecuted.

The height of your roof racks is extremely important
*Lower roof racks are a lot simpler and easier to get your gear on and off your roof.
*Higher roof racks allow the vehicle to have a higher centre of gravity and is less stable on bumpy roads.

2. Materials

Roof racks

The materials that your roof racks are manufactured from determine how stable, strong and longevity they will be on your vehicle.

  • Steel is very strong, but you risk the being heavy and can rust.
  • Aluminium is light and while strong is rust resistant, even more so if it is powder coated.
  • Soft Neoprene, inflatable or polyester or foam racks are extremely lightweight and simple to use but recommended to only be used for lighter loads.

Straps & Ropes

The material that straps and ropes are made from determine their strength and durability.

  • Rubber or bungee straps- these can be used to secure the gear inside your vehicle, but they are not recommended to be used on the roof as it is likely that they will not be strong enough to handle the load.
  • Nylon- these are thin and lightweight, but it is suggested that they will not last as long as stronger tie down made from polypropylene.

Polypropylene is a good allrounder material that is used to make tie down straps that are tough enough to handle high tension and allow you to secure your load firmly and securely.

3. Accessories

You can purchase add on accessories to assist in securing and protecting your gear.

  • Fishing Rod Holders-These remove your rods from inside the vehicle making it safer for passengers
  • Carriers- Make life easier when you need to carry items like kayaks, paddle boards and bikes securely without the risk of damage
  • Paddle Holders- These can be mounted next to the kayak roof rack so they can be transported more easily.
  • Bike Racks- Are able to be attached to the top or back of your vehicle with a padlock to secure them to your roof rack.

How do you load bikes on a bike rack?

There are two types of bike racks, roof mounted and on the back of the tow ball.

Top of your roof bike racks

  • Limited to certain sets of roof racks, check your racks before buying this to make sure the roof racks can carry this kind.
  • Transport the bike with the front wheel on or off
  • Wheel on bike racks secure the bike by the wheel and/or frame making this ideal for front wheel suspension bikes.
  • Off wheel bike racks reduce the height of the bike handlebars and may need additional adapters or a wheelhouse to carry the front wheel.

Rear of vehicle bike racks

Bike racks you fit to the rear of the vehicle on the tow ball.

  • You will require a hitch receiver
  • Can be fitted to a boot or rear strap
  • Can carry multiple bikes on a bike rack
  • Some can tilt away from the back of the vehicle to give you access to the rear.
  • Some models have a universal key to prevent theft
  • Some have cradles to keep bikes stable and minimalize damage to multiple bikes.

Where can you purchase a bike rack?

Bars N Racks are your ideal place to shop for a bike rack that will suit your needs.

4. Storage

If you are needing storage for bulky items like camping gear and luggage you can consider:

  • Cargo barrier- this is a lockable and weatherproof carrier that ensures your ear is secure and safe. It is manufactured to be aero dynamic for fuel savings.
  • Basket- this attach to your roof racks and allows packing smaller and odd shaped items like tents, chairs etc and had anchor points to safely secure your load.


All items on the roof racks need to be securely tied down to prevent the risk of injuries or accidents. Using these restraints will assist in securing everything and ensure you, your passengers and your gear is protected.

  • Gas bottle restraint- ensures your gas bottle is secured with a padlock
  • Spare tyre restraints- stop your spare tyre moving or falling off if you brake suddenly.
  • Fuel Holders- Keeps your container in place and stops it from launching off,while you have to break suddenly or in the event you have an accident.
  • Shovel & tool holders- keeps them locked securely so they don’t fly off the vehicle

To make sure that your heaviest load you carry will be safe and secure you can use:

  • Rachet straps- the rachet system tightens the straps forcefully and should never be used on fragile loads
  • Tie Downs- The most common straps and are able to be manually tightened to secure your load with the cam buckle
  • Chains and shackles- very strong and secure metal for very heavy loads and you can secure with a padlock if needed.
  • Cargo nets- used to secure small or light gear when loading into a basket to stop them from flying off
  • Cable locks- this protects your property from theft if you leave the vehicle unattended on your roof racks.

5. Quality

When you are thinking of what you will buy you need to consider quality rather than cost as this will give you longevity from the roof racks.

  • Bulky roof racks and their attachments may be cheaper, and they are not as aerodynamic, so you risk using more fuel as they are not economic
  • Cheap roof racks may not always be as strong and reliable, so you risk breakages, injuries and damaging your gear.
  • Quality of the ropes and tie downs is essentially important as damaged or frayed ropes or tie downs can snap.

When it comes to the amount you should spend on a set of roof racks you should think about how often you will use them

  • If you plan on travelling on a long interstate trip you should consider investing in durable materials that will last.
  • If you fail to secure the load correctly and the wind catches it on a very strong wind you can risk the vehicle tipping. This will cause injury to yourself, possible other road users and damage your vehicle and gear you carry.
  • Cheap roof racks don’t last if racks that are more expensive. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
  • If you plan on using the roof racks as storage for years to come, you need to consider spending more on good quality roof racks, accessories and restraints.

How Much does a perfect set of roof racks kitted out with accessories cost?

As you can see there are many things you can add on to your roof racks. The team at Bars N Racks will take the time to find out the exact things you are needing, make sure you have the right set of racks for the vehicle and cost it all up for you. The beauty of adding accessories is if you cannot afford everything at once, you can make the lost, get your price and slowly purchase things as you can afford them.


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