How to Install Roof Rack on a Car without Rails – Step-by-Step

It’s no secret that most adventure seekers or sports lovers love to own a roof rack to carry their gear. Most of the time, conveying all the necessary equipment inside the car becomes too hard. Hence, a roof rack is a must. Most people think it’s impossible to install a roof rack on a car without rails.

However, this is a wrong assumption. You can easily install it without the crossbars’ presence. It’s a straightforward DIY project. All you need to do is follow some crucial steps and maintain precautionary measures to install a roof rack.

Here, I’ll give you a deep insight into installing a roof rack on a car without rails. I hope my article will be beneficial to you. By the way, I don’t want to prolong the talk anymore. Let’s get down to some serious business –

Roof Racks and Roof Rails

What are Roof Racks and Roof Rails?

Before delving into an in-depth discussion, we need to know what roof racks and roof rails are.

Roof racks typically consist of a set of bars that are mounted on the vehicle’s roof. They come in different shapes and sizes and are designed to support various cargo carriers, such as bike racks, ski racks, and cargo boxes.

Roof racks can be attached to the vehicle in various ways, including clamps, bolts, or straps.

Roof rails, however, are long, horizontal bars along the length of the vehicle’s roof. They are designed to provide a base for attaching a roof rack or other cargo carrier.

Alternatively, they can secure items directly to the vehicle’s roof. Roof rails are typically built into the vehicle’s design and may be made of a variety of materials, including aluminum or plastic.

Roof racks and rails can be handy for carrying extra cargo on a vehicle, but choosing the right system for your needs is essential.

Equipment You’ll Need

In order to complete the task sophisticated, you’ll need some essential equipment. Here’s the list of them –

  • Roof rack kit (with brackets and screws)
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Socket wrench or pliers
  • Torque wrench
Install Roof Rack without Rails

How to Install Roof Rack without Rails

Installing a roof rack without roof rails is a pretty simple task. This guide will assist you in learning how to install a roof rack without rails. In this article, I’ll discuss how I installed a roof rack on my Sedan without rails. Let’s take a look:

Step 1 – Clean the Roof

Firstly, you need to clean the top side of the car. For cleaning, you must use a clean piece of cloth. Use a mild soap and water solution to wash the roof. After that, dry it with a cloth. Besides, if you want to install the rack properly, cleaning the vehicle’s roof is necessary.

A clean surface is a perfect place for having a roof rack.

Step 2 – Select the Perfect Roof Rack

Not all roof racks are the same; they come in various shapes and sizes. Moreover, not all of them are compatible with cars without roof rails. So, you need to act smart. You should purchase a rack specifically made for your car model.

Furthermore, seek to get a roof rack that can productively support the gear’s weight. Please don’t go for a cheaper option. Instead, purchase a high-quality roof rack made of highly sophisticated elements.

Step 3 – Measure the Distance

Now, we’ll measure the distance between the front and rear doors on the car’s roof using tape and a marker. This measurement will help you determine where to place the roof rack and where the brackets will be installed. Use the tape to get the central point of the roof’s top.

Henceforth, count the distance between the doors to find out where the brackets will get installed. And, use a marker ball to make a dot at every location.

Step 4 – Install the Front and Rear Feet

Put the front and rear feet of the roof rack on the car’s roof in the perfect position based on the measurement you took earlier. Use a drill and a suitable drill bit to make holes in the car’s roof. Then, use the screws provided in the installation kit to secure the front and rear feet to the roof.

When I did the whole thing on my Sedan, my 9-year-old daughter Elita assisted me with such tasks. She’s knowledgeable and loves DIY work! I love that very much!

Step 5 –Fastening the Rack Brackets to the Car

Now, is the appropriate moment to connect the roof rack brackets to your car’s roof. This requires you to eliminate the covers that hide the mounting spots. In case your vehicle lacks pre-drilled holes for the brackets, you must utilize the screws included in the kit to affix them to the roof.

With a socket wrench or pliers, secure the screws until they are firm.

Step 6 – Install the Crossbars

Since the brackets are placed in the proper position, it’s time to install the crossbars. Fasten the crossbars to the front and rear feet using the provided bolts and nuts. Tighten the bolts and nuts with a wrench to secure the crossbars. But, you should be careful not to over-tighten the screws. Make a limit.

Step 7 –Extra Rack Fastening (In Case)

Do you think that attaching only one roof rack is possible without rails? No! You can connect to another one. Yes, you heard it right! I also had the same idea until one of my close pals suggested attaching another rack.

You can fasten another set of crossbars near the car’s rear point. Hence, it will enhance the security and stability of the rack. Here are the steps you should follow for extra rack fastening:

  • Drill another set of holes around 2.5 inches beneath the first using a hand drill.
  • Put a rubber washer on each screw before fastening them to the vehicle’s roof.
  • Use suitable nuts to tighten the screws in the appropriate place.

Step 8 – Cleaning Task

Since the roof rack is now secure, let’s clean any residues or debris on the ground. As a result, the environment will be clean, and there will be no chance of accidental falls. You can conveniently mount all these gears to the rack. So, they will be safe and secure when you’re driving to reach your destination.

Step 9 – Test the Roof Rack

After installing the roof rack, testing it before putting any heavy items on it is essential. Give the roof rack a gentle shake to make sure it’s secure. If it moves or wobbles, tighten the bolts and nuts according to the needs.

Last Thing to Do – Add Accessories

Once you’ve installed the roof rack, you can add accessories like bike racks or kayak holders. Furthermore, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions when attaching these accessories to ensure they’re properly secured.

Now, everything is set, you’re ready to go wherever you want!

roof basket without rails

Few Essential Tips and Tricks

Installing a roof rack on a car without rails is difficult. It’s pretty challenging. Nevertheless, the procedure will become smooth and flexible if we follow some tips and tricks. Now, check out the crucial tips to install a roof rack on a car without rails –

Check the Roof for Mounting Points

Some cars without rails have hidden mounting points on the roof that can be used to attach a roof rack. Further, check your car’s manual or consult a mechanic to see if your car has these mounting points.

Follow the Guidelines of the Roof Rack Kit

Every roof rack is unique and comes with specific instructions from the manufacturing company. We should follow them. Moreover, improper installation can cause severe accidents.

Use a Clean Cloth to Clean

Before installing the roof rack on the car, it’s better to clean the rooftop with a clean cloth. This is the best possible way to prevent scratches on the roof. Moreover, you can also use a roof protector. A foam pad can be used as a protector for the roof.

Just place it between the roof and the roof rack, and you’re done!

Don’t Over-tighten the Screws

Of course, you should tighten the screws. There’s no alternative. Otherwise, an accident could happen. Nevertheless, you can’t overtighten them. Overtightening the screws can cause severe damage to the car, rack, or even the product you’re carrying.

So, you should be careful with that.

Never Cross the Weight Limit

Always keep the weight limit of the rack given by the manufacturing company in mind. Crossing the weight limit can damage the rack and the roof severely.

Test the Flexibility of the Rack

Before loading any gear onto the roof rack, ensure it is properly installed and secure. Test it by gently shaking the rack to ensure it doesn’t move or wobble.

Overall, installing a roof rack on a car without rails requires careful attention to detail and the right tools. If you’re not confident in your ability to install it yourself, it’s best to seek the help of a professional. In addition, consider having fun while driving and facing no danger while traveling.

Roof Rack Installation Safety Measurements

There are various safety measures we need to take before installing a roof rack without rails –

  • Skip this installation process on a vehicle that has an outside antenna.
  • Try to use electronic equipment that possesses a standard magnetic field. As a result, the electronic system of the vehicle will remain intact.
  • Never drill at a place that has sort of difficulties. Also, remember that piercing the foam can significantly reduce the rack’s effectiveness.
  • Ensure you have all the necessary tools to complete the installation and use them properly. This includes using the right size socket or wrench to tighten bolts and ensuring that all hardware is torqued correctly.
  • Learn the local code of conduct established by the authority of that area. If you violate any conduct regarding the rack, there’s a massive chance you could be punished. So, acquire knowledge about it and abstain from what isn’t permitted by the administration.
  • Remember that your vehicle will handle differently with a roof rack and additional weight on top. Drive more carefully and be aware of any changes in your vehicle’s handling.
  • Ensure that the car is turned off while working with power tools on the car.

By following these safety measures, you can ensure that your roof rack installation process is secure and safe for transporting your cargo.

Install Roof Rack on Car Devoid Roof Rails

Pros and Cons of Install Roof Rack on Car Devoid Roof Rails

Installing a roof rack on a car without roof rails is an excellent way to increase storage capacity and transport more oversized items. However, the pros and cons of installing a roof rack without roof rails mainly depend on the type of vehicle and roof rack you choose.



A roof rack without roof rails can be used in a broader range of vehicles, including those that don’t have factory-installed roof rails.


Roof racks that don’t require roof rails are generally less expensive than those that do. Therefore, they are cost-effective.

Easy Installation

Roof racks that don’t require roof rails are often convenient to install, as they don’t require any modifications to your vehicle.


Load Capacity

Roof racks that do not require roof rails may have a lower load capacity than those that do. This means that you may not be able to transport as much weight or as many items on your roof rack.


A roof rack without roof rails may not be as stable as one that does. Without roof rails, the roof rack may move around or shift during transport, which can pose a danger.

Vehicle Damage

Roof racks that do not require roof rails may cause damage to your vehicle, such as scratches or dents. These incidents could occur if they aren’t correctly installed or overloaded.


A roof rack without roof rails may produce more noise while driving than one that does. The wind may cause the roof rack to vibrate or whistle, which can be annoying.

In summary, the benefits and drawbacks of installing a roof rack without roof rails will depend on your specific needs and the type of roof rack you choose. Before installing a roof rack, it’s essential to consider these factors and choose a safe, reliable, and suitable roof rack for your vehicle.


What is a roof rack without rails?

A roof rack without rails is a set of crossbars fastened directly to the vehicle’s roof without any pre-existing roof rails or tracks.

How do I install a roof rack on a vehicle without rails?

The installation process will vary depending on the type of vehicle and roof rack you use. However, in general, you will need to attach the roof rack feet or clamps to the roof of your vehicle. Hence, you can fasten it by using specialized brackets or hardware. Then, you can attach the crossbars to the feet or clamps using screws or bolts.

How much weight can a roof rack without rails support?

To be honest, the weight limit depends on a vehicle’s make and model. In that case, you can inspect the manufacturer’s guidelines to see the weight capacity of the roof rack.

Can I remove my roof rack if I’m not using it?

You should remove it. If the rack stays on the car’s roof day after day, the roof can be scratched. Moreover, this practice will also increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

Wrap Up

I hope you have gained enough knowledge on how to install a roof rack on a car without rails. The whole procedure isn’t that daunting. All you need to do is check the process carefully and follow it.

Hence, you can transport items easily without breaking the bank by following these procedures for installing a rack.

You can conveniently install a roof rack on your car by using the essential tools and following the tips and safety measures. After that, you can also use it to its full potential.

Additionally, after installation, you can put any gear on the rack and carry it to your destination.

So, do you have any more questions regarding this article? Feel free to ask in the box below. Thank you for reading. Bye!

A seasoned writer with a passion for crafting engaging content. Whether it’s exploring the great outdoors, diving into automotive trends, or uncovering travel secrets, I’m here to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with you.