Are Roof Racks Universal? Here’s Some Knowledge You Should Know

Suppose you’re walking down the streets of Toronto and suddenly notice that an SUV driving past you has a beautiful roof rack. Your mind becomes fixated on the rack, and you want to buy it. However, you don’t own an SUV but rather a standard Toyota. Will the rack fit on your car?

Are roof racks universal and able to fit all types of cars? Many questions can arise in your mind.

For your convenience, there isn’t a single universal roof rack in this world. If you look at top-notch brands such as Thule, Yakima, Mont Blanc, Rocky Mounts, Rhino, etc., you will find that none of them produces a universal roof rack.

Nevertheless, some brands manufacture racks that claim to be universal.

But you still need to redesign the shape to fit them on all types of vehicles. Since mounting options for vehicles vary in size and shape, building a universal roof rack is impossible.

So, I hope you understand why almost all leading manufacturing companies do not produce universal roof racks.

Let’s walk with me to gain essential knowledge about why roof racks can’t be universal –

Why the Roof Racks are not Universal?

Roof racks have become increasingly popular among car owners because they often need to transport bulky items that do not fit inside the car. Whether hauling a bike, a kayak, or a roof box, a roof rack can provide the extra space you need.

However, one question that often arises when considering a roof rack is whether they are universal.

The short answer is that a universal roof rack does not exist. Yes, some companies still claim they have made it, but things are not as smooth as they try to portray.

For instance, I want to share a practical experience of mine. One of my friends bought a universal roof rack almost two years ago (I don’t want to mention the brand name).

He managed to fit it on his Ford. However, when he tried to fit it on his Audi, it did not work. He had to modify the rack. This is the main issue – not all types of vehicles have the same designs, sizes, or load capabilities.

As a result, roof racks need to be specific to each vehicle to ensure proper fitment, weight distribution, and safety.

Now, let’s explore why the top-notch brands do not intend to produce universal roof racks.

Varied Roof Designs

Think seriously, is a BMW’s roof design the same as a Ford’s? Of course not! Different vehicles have different roof designs. For example, some roofs have built-in rails or attachment points, while others do not.

Conversely, some cars have clamps or raised roof rails for mounting. Since the type of roof varies, it’s pretty much impossible for a single roof rack to accommodate all kinds of car requirements. Thus, you need to modify the design and shape of the roof racks if you want to use them for multiple cars.

Varied Roof Sizes

You can’t expect the size of an SUV and a standard car to be the same. Different vehicles have varying roof sizes. Hence, it is a must for a car owner to check their car’s size before installing a roof rack. Otherwise, they won’t be able to purchase the correct roof rack for their vehicle.

Therefore, it’s clear that making a universal roof rack for all these types of vehicles doesn’t make any sense.

Weight Capacity and Load Distribution

Different vehicles have different weight capacities and load distribution requirements. It means a roof rack that works for one vehicle won’t work for another. Since the capability is different, no manufacturing company can match the different requirements.

Varied Rack Systems

Any car’s roof rack system generally contains three elements. They are – Cross Bars, Feet, and Fitting Gear. Crossbars are two metal bars that stay on the car’s roof’s width. Besides, the feet help the crossbars to sit in the right place. On the other hand, fitting kits contain brackets and are specific for a car.

For this reason, you must choose them according to the car’s model since the rack system isn’t the same for every vehicle.

Legal Regulations

Different countries and regions have distinct regulations regarding roof racks usage. For example, some countries require that roof racks be able to support a certain amount of weight or be anexact distance from the vehicle’s roofline.

Brand-Specific Design

Some manufacturing companies make their roof racks precisely for their vehicles. As a result, their products aren’t compatible with other makes and models.

Different Types of Roof Racks for Cars

The type of your car roof dictates which kinds of roof racks you should choose for your car. Here, I’m providing the five most common types of racks –

Bare Roof Rack

A bare or naked roof rack is designed to be mounted directly onto a vehicle’s roof. You can do it conveniently without the presence of pre-existing rails or crossbars. These roof racks can be customized to fit a wide range of vehicles. Furthermore, they can transport bikes, kayaks, cargo boxes, and more.

Raised Rail Roof Rack

Two raised bars cover the car roof’s length. On top of that, there will be a maximum 2-inch gap between the bars. You can purchase perfect feet that can easily fasten to the raised rails.

Flush Rail Roof Rack

A flush rail roof rack is similar to a raised rail roof rack. Nevertheless, the rails sit flush with the roofline. These roof racks can be more aerodynamic than raised rail roof racks. Moreover, they can transport bikes, kayaks, and cargo boxes.

Fixed Point Roof Rack

A fixed-point roof rack is designed for vehicles with specific mounting points on the roof. These roof racks are attached to the mounting points and can be used to transport various equipment.

Top-notch brands like BMW use fixed mounting points to fasten a roof rack. These mounting points are not visible and are covered with doors.

Therefore, you should purchase a specific roof rack to ensure it will fit the vehicle without any problems.

Hitch-Mounted Roof Rack

A hitch-mounted roof rack is designed to attach to the hitch receiver on the vehicle’s back. These roof racks are best suited for transporting bikes and can also transport cargo boxes or other gear.

When choosing a roof rack for your car, consider the type of equipment you want to transport during your trips and your vehicle’s specific needs.

Do I Really Need a Roof Rack?

Are you a frequent traveler like me? Or are you a busy person who needs to travel to various places for different tasks? It doesn’t matter what the reason is, if you really need a roof rack, you should purchase it without a second thought.

Yes, you can tie something to your roof and hope for the best, but it won’t be enough. Besides, it will be perilous. For instance, one of my cousins did the same thing in 2016. She was about to travel to New Mexico from Roswell.

She didn’t want to buy a rack and ordered me to tie her ski on the rooftop of her BMW. I did the exact thing she told me to do. The result? She reached New Mexico six hours later than usual. She was always afraid that the ski could slip off the roof!

This isn’t the end of the saga! When she returned home, she lost the ski in the middle of the road. The most exciting part is that she didn’t even know when and how the ski fell off the car’s roof! She and one of her friends searched extensively when they noticed it, but it didn’t work. The sports gear just blew away!

I shared the story because I think you should also be careful. Don’t take any risks. Otherwise, you’ll suffer. If you want to transport products, you should purchase a rack. That’s the main moral of the story. Do yourself a favor and avoid any risk. I hope you understand.

For your convenience, if you think about what roof rack is best for your car, you can go for theYakima Skybox 16orThule Force Rooftop Cargo Box without a think. Both are the leading roof racks model in recent times.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q –Are the Thule roof rack universal?

A: I’ve already answered it. I want to repeat it with a big shout! NO! NO! The legendary Thule brand produces no universal roof rack.

Q: What are roof rails?

A: The roof rails run across the front and rear of each side of the car’s roof. You can use them for a general factory fit.

Q: Should I purchase a roof rack for my vehicle?

A: If you’re a frequent traveler or a vivid sportsman who travels with friends and family, you should go for a roof rack. A roof rack can help to convey sports or household products conveniently. Besides, a roof rack is a safe and secure way to carry those gears. It will also make the journey comfortable.

Q: Why don’t top brands produce universal roof racks?

A: Since it’s impossible to manufacture roof racks according to the various car designs and rack mounting systems, top-notch brands don’t make universal roof racks for cars.

Wrapping Up

So, what do you think? Are roof racks universal? What’s your take on this? I can assure you that no universal roof racks are available on this earth! Perhaps you could try using a portal to find one on another planet! Jokes apart, I’ve explained multiple times why it’s not possible to manufacture a universal roof rack.

So, if you purchase one, you can be sure you still need to modify it to fit any car. I hope this clears up any confusion. If you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the box below. Thanks.

Automotive products are like an addiction to me. Years ago, I started my job at a Roof Box installation co. Then I realized that I have a passion for cars. It is a perfect scope to share my different experiences about automotive products.