If you’re heading across the country on holiday or planning an outdoor adventure, there a few things you should consider before loading up the roof rack and taking off. Haphazardly loading roof racks or attaching things to them that don’t belong up there can impact your vehicle’s safety, worsen your fuel economy, and even slow down your big trip.
An Overloaded Roof Rack Can Be a Real Drag – Literally
When you overload roof racks by piling baggage high into the air, the wind drag you’re creating can dramatically affect your vehicle’s performance. Technically speaking, this effect is called air resistance. The bigger the object and the faster it moves, the more air resistance will be created.
We’ve all seen cyclists wearing aerodynamically shaped helmets and tight clothing in order to go faster, and the same principal applies to roof rack luggage loading. The best way to reduce drag is to not pack items too high and to avoid packing bulky pieces of luggage. And just because you have a roof rack, it doesn’t mean every item you’re taking on holiday needs to be attached to it. If there’s room elsewhere inside the car, like in the boot or on the back seat, this could be a much better place to put it in order to avoid wind drag. By reducing air resistance, you’ll be improving your vehicle’s fuel economy – and who doesn’t want to save on petrol?
Keep the Load As Light As Possible
Try using roof racks as a place to store lightweight items. This means saving heavy items such as liquids and bulky equipment for the boot of your car. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is much easier to pop open the boot of a car to retrieve an item than it is to undo roof rack ties and find what you’re looking for, so avoid putting items you plan on using often throughout your journey on the roof.
Secure Everything Well
The last thing you want is to see your precious belongings scattered across the road behind you! Securing your load tightly with quality tie down straps is a great way to keep everything in place and avoid load shift. Load shift occurs when items aren’t secured properly, and the sudden movement of items can be dangerous – especially if they’re heavy. There are a range of different types and brands of tie down straps to choose from, and they’re commonly stocked in stores that sell roof racks and other car parts.
It is important to evenly distribute your load and ensure that it is not stacked too high. A load that protrudes too much is going to make it difficult to enter car park buildings and pass under height clearances. It can also alter your vehicle’s centre of gravity and make it more prone to wobbling from side to side.
Before loading up your roof rack and heading to the outback or down to the south coast, plan ahead and make sure that you’re not putting unnecessary items on roof racks, that you have some good quality ties downs to securely fasten loads, and that you’re distributing items evenly. These are the keys to safely travelling with roof racks.