How to Select and Install a Universal Cargo Rack for Increased Storage on Compact Vehicles?

The fun, excitement, and adventure of packing up and hitting the open road for a trip can sometimes be overshadowed by the problem of fitting all your gear into a compact vehicle. Thankfully, cargo racks provide an effective solution to this problem, allowing you to take everything you need with you. This article will guide you through the process of selecting and installing a universal cargo rack on your vehicle for increased storage space.

Understanding the Basics of Cargo Racks

Before diving into the process of selecting and installing a cargo rack, it is essential to understand the basics. A cargo rack, also known as a roof rack, is a set of bars secured on the roof of a vehicle. It is used to carry heavy items such as luggage, bicycles, canoes, kayaks, skis, or various carriers and containers. Brands like Thule and Yakima are well-known in this space for their high-quality racks.

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First, the primary component of a roof rack system is the bars. The bars run across the width of the car’s roof. Depending on the vehicle and its roof type, you might need tower components, clips, or other hardware to secure these bars.

Second, are the carriers and boxes. These are designed specifically to fit on roof rack bars and come in various types and sizes. Whether it’s a cargo box, bike carrier, ski carrier, or a kayak carrier – you can choose based on your requirement.

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Choosing the Right Universal Cargo Rack

When it comes to choosing a cargo rack, the keyword here is "universal". This means that the rack will fit on almost any vehicle, regardless of the brand or model. The best racks are those that are adjustable and can be fitted to both narrow and wide roof rails.

When browsing options, consider the type of gear you plan to transport. For example, if you regularly hit the slopes, opt for a rack designed to hold skis. Similarly, if you’re a cyclist, look for a rack that can secure your bike.

Furthermore, the weight limit is a critical factor to consider. Always check the maximum weight your chosen rack can handle and ensure it aligns with your needs.

Companies like Thule offer a variety of universal roof racks suitable for different needs. For instance, the Thule Motion XT rooftop cargo carrier is a highly versatile option- it’s durable, has a large storage capacity, and is easy to install and remove.

Installing Your Universal Cargo Rack

Once you’ve selected the perfect cargo rack, the next step is installing it on your vehicle. While specific instructions can vary depending on the model, here are some general steps to guide you through the process.

First, assemble the cargo rack following the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually involves connecting the bars, towers and fit components.

Next, position the rack on top of your vehicle ensuring that it is centered on the roof. The rack must be parallel to the car and not tilted in any direction. Make sure that the cargo rack is not interfering with any sunroof, antenna, or other elements on the roof.

Then, attach the rack to your vehicle’s rooftop rails. Most universal racks will fit onto both elevated and flush-mounted rails. Tighten the mounts until they are secure, but be mindful not to over-tighten and cause damage.

Regular Maintenance and Safety Checks

It is important to remember that installing a roof rack is not a one-time task. Regular checks and maintenance are required to ensure safety and durability.

Make sure that the bolts and other fittings are tight and secure before every trip. A loose cargo rack can cause serious damage to your vehicle or lead to accidents.

Also, check for any signs of wear and tear, such as rust or cracks in the bars or mounts. Regular cleaning is also essential to prevent dirt and dust from accumulating, which could result in corrosion over time.

The Impact on Fuel Economy and Driving Dynamics

A word of caution – installing a roof rack will undoubtedly affect your vehicle’s fuel economy and driving dynamics. The added weight and change in the vehicle’s aerodynamics can lead to increased fuel consumption.

Moreover, you might notice that your car is less stable in high winds and at high speeds, especially when the rack is loaded. Therefore, always adjust your driving to these changes, and remember to take the rack down when not in use to save fuel.

In conclusion, a universal cargo rack can be a valuable addition to your compact vehicle, providing much-needed extra storage without compromising on interior space. With careful selection, proper installation, and regular maintenance, you can safely transport your gear wherever the road leads you. The shared experiences and memories with your loved ones on the trip will make the investment in a cargo rack worth every penny.

The Pros and Cons of Different Roof Racks

When it comes to shopping for a universal cargo rack, it is important to consider the various designs and their respective pros and cons. Some commonly used designs include cross bars, cargo boxes, bike racks, ski racks, and roof rails.

Cross bars are the most basic design. They run across the width of the car roof and are ideal for carrying long items like skis, snowboards, or surfboards. Cross bars are relatively easy to install and offer great versatility, but they might not be the best option for carrying bulky items.

Cargo boxes or carriers are perfect for packing a lot of gear. They provide plenty of storage space, protect your belongings from the weather, and can be locked for security. However, they do affect the car’s aerodynamics more dramatically than cross bars, leading to higher fuel consumption.

Bike racks are specifically designed to carry bikes. They keep the bikes secure and free up space inside the car. The downside is they add height to the vehicle, making it potentially difficult to enter parking garages or pass under low bridges.

Ski racks are great for transporting skis and snowboards. They hold your equipment securely and prevent damage to your car’s interior. However, they’re not as versatile as cross bars or cargo boxes and can only be used for specific items.

Roof rails, typically seen on SUVs and station wagons, are permanent fixtures on the car roof and allow for various attachments like cross bars, cargo carriers, or bike racks. They offer superior flexibility but require professional installation.

The Impact of the Installation

After you’ve installed your cargo rack, it is important to be aware of the impact on your vehicle’s performance. For one, the added height could make it harder to park in low-clearance areas. It could also increase your vehicle’s wind resistance, which in turn can lower fuel efficiency.

Additionally, a fully loaded rack can change the vehicle’s center of gravity, making it more susceptible to rolling over during sudden turns or in windy conditions. This is particularly important for taller vehicles like SUVs or vans.

With this in mind, adjust your driving habits accordingly. Drive slower, especially around corners and during high winds. And remember to unload the rack as soon as you reach your destination. Leaving it loaded with heavy items for extended periods can potentially damage the rack and the roof of your car.

Conclusion

Having a universal cargo rack on your compact vehicle certainly offers many advantages, chief among them being the increased storage space. Whether it’s for carrying skis and snowboards for a winter getaway or transporting bikes for a summer adventure, roof racks provide a practical solution to the space limitations of compact vehicles.

Selecting the right cargo rack involves understanding your specific needs, considering the various designs available, and weighing the pros and cons of each. The installation process, while straightforward, does require careful consideration and adherence to safety measures.

Lastly, being mindful of the impact on your vehicle’s performance and regularly maintaining your cargo rack can help increase its longevity and ensure safe travels. Whether you opt for a Thule Motion or any other brand of roof rack, the freedom and flexibility it offers will surely make your road trips more enjoyable and hassle-free.