Car Accessories and Gadgets

How To Install Roof Rack On Car Without Rails


How To Install Roof Rack On Car Without Rails: Installing a roof rack on a car without existing roof rails can significantly enhance your vehicle’s utility by enabling you to transport various items securely, from bicycles to luggage. While the process might initially appear daunting, it can be relatively straightforward with the right guidance and tools. In this introduction, we’ll outline the essential steps for installing a roof rack on a car without roof rails.

When you need to increase your car’s cargo capacity, installing a roof rack on a vehicle without existing roof rails is a valuable option. While it may seem like a complex task, the process can be manageable with the right guidance. In this introduction, we’ll provide an overview of the steps involved in installing a roof rack on a car without roof rails.

Equipping your car with a roof rack when it lacks factory-installed roof rails is a practical way to enhance its utility for carrying various items, from sports equipment to luggage. While it may appear challenging, installing a roof rack on a car without rails is an achievable task with the right guidance and tools. In this introductory overview, we’ll provide a glimpse into the essential steps required to successfully install a roof rack on such a vehicle.

Can you install a roof rack without roof rails?

There are three ways you can install a roof rack system on your car without rails. The first way is to use the feet and clips with the roof rack system. The second way is to use a set of straps around the car roof, and the third is to use a gutter mount kit.

Yes, you can install a roof rack on a car without pre-existing roof rails. This process is commonly referred to as a “naked roof” installation. It’s a practical solution to expand your vehicle’s carrying capacity for sports equipment, luggage, or other large items. To achieve this, you’ll typically need a roof rack system designed for naked roofs, which includes crossbars and mounting feet.

The installation process involves attaching the mounting feet directly to your car’s roof. The exact method can vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model, but it usually involves clamping or hooking the feet onto the door frames or roof edges. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is crucial to ensure a secure fit.

Once the mounting feet are in place, you’ll attach the crossbars, ensuring they are evenly spaced and parallel to each other. After tightening all connections securely, it’s essential to test the rack for stability to prevent any wobbling or shifting during use.

By successfully installing a roof rack without roof rails, you’ll transform your vehicle into a versatile transporter, ready to handle a wide range of cargo and outdoor adventures. Just remember to adhere to load capacity limits and safety guidelines for a smooth and secure ride.

Can I mount roof racks without a track mount?

Our Rack manufacturers recommend a track mount over a permanent mount due to the increased versatility, but if you don’t want to have the extra expense and don’t intend to ever remove the racks, permanent mounts are a great option.

Yes, you can mount roof racks without a track mount, and this is commonly known as a “trackless” or “track-free” installation. Roof racks can be installed on vehicles that lack factory-installed tracks or rails. Instead of using tracks, a trackless roof rack system typically relies on mounting feet that attach directly to your car’s roof. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

Gather Your Materials: Start by acquiring the necessary components, including the roof rack system with crossbars and compatible mounting feet. Make sure you have the right fit for your vehicle’s make and model.

Select the Placement: Determine the optimal location for your roof rack. Ensure that it is centered and positioned parallel to the car’s roofline. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific placement guidance.

Attach Mounting Feet: Assemble the mounting feet according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These feet will be the anchor points for your roof rack. They often attach to the door frames, roof edges, or other designated areas on your vehicle’s roof.

Secure the Crossbars: Place the crossbars onto the mounting feet, ensuring they are evenly spaced and parallel to each other. Tighten the connections securely.

Stability Check: Gently shake the roof rack to check for stability and ensure it doesn’t wobble or shift when properly installed.

Is it possible to install roof rails in a car?

Many vehicles are readily equipped with some form of roof rails — which you may notice when buying a car. Some manufacturers may offer these rails standard, while others provide them as an option instead. If your car doesn’t have any, they can be installed separately.

Yes, it is possible to install roof rails on a car that didn’t come with them from the factory. Roof rails, also known as roof bars or roof racks, can be added to a vehicle to provide additional cargo-carrying capacity. Here’s a basic overview of the process:

Select the Right Roof Rails: Start by choosing roof rails that are compatible with your vehicle’s make and model. You’ll want to ensure that they are the correct length and design for your car.

Prepare the Roof: Clean the roof of your car thoroughly and make sure it’s free of dirt and debris. This will help with the installation and prevent scratches on your vehicle’s surface.

Position and Attach the Rails: Place the roof rails in the desired location on your car’s roof. Most roof rails are attached using a combination of clamps and bolts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, making sure the rails are aligned correctly.

Secure the Rails: Tighten the bolts to secure the roof rails in place. Be sure not to over-tighten, as this can damage the roof.

Test for Stability: Give the newly installed roof rails a gentle shake to ensure they are securely attached and won’t wobble or shift during use.

Accessories: Once the roof rails are installed, you can add various accessories like crossbars, cargo boxes, or bike racks to expand your car’s carrying capacity further.

Can you install a roof rack without crossbars?

It’s hard to use the roof without them. But it can be done. On a recent camping trip I tied two boxes on top using just the longitudinal side rails.

Installing a roof rack without crossbars is not a typical or recommended practice. Crossbars are an essential component of a roof rack system, as they provide the structural support necessary to secure and carry cargo safely on your vehicle’s roof. While it might be tempting to try and attach cargo directly to the roof rails or mounting feet, doing so can be risky and could damage your vehicle, cargo, or even pose a safety hazard on the road.

Even Distribution of Weight: Crossbars distribute the weight of your cargo evenly across the roof rack, preventing concentrated stress points that could damage the roof or cause instability.

Attachment Points: They provide a secure attachment point for accessories like bike racks, cargo boxes, or kayak carriers.

Cargo Security: Crossbars act as a barrier, helping to keep your cargo in place and preventing it from sliding or shifting during transit.

Protection for Roof: They create a buffer between the cargo and your vehicle’s roof, reducing the risk of scratches or damage.

Are roof rails necessary?

We highly recommend having a roof rack. They allow you to carry almost anything you don’t want or can’t fit inside your vehicle. It could be big things like boats or bikes or nasty things like wet camping gear or hockey equipment. Some vehicles come with factory installed rack systems, some don’t.

Roof rails, while not strictly necessary for all vehicles, serve as valuable additions to many cars and SUVs. Their necessity depends on your specific needs and the intended use of your vehicle. Here are some considerations to help you decide if roof rails are necessary for your situation:

Cargo Carrying: Roof rails provide a secure foundation for roof racks, cargo boxes, and other accessories. If you frequently transport items like bikes, skis, kayaks, or luggage, roof rails become highly practical, allowing you to carry these items safely and conveniently.

Aesthetics: Some vehicles come equipped with roof rails as a standard feature, and their presence can enhance the overall appearance of the car. This can be a selling point for those who value the aesthetics of their vehicle.

Resale Value: Equipped roof rails can potentially increase the resale value of your vehicle, as they add versatility and utility that future owners may appreciate.

Off-Roading: For adventure seekers, roof rails can be essential for mounting rooftop tents or additional lighting equipment when off-roading or camping.

Does a car need roof rails?

A car with a roof rail is quite useful to the driver, especially when carrying items up to the roof. It provides a more durable holder for connecting equipment to the roof, eliminating the need for the conventional rope method. Adding a set of roof bars to your vehicle adds a lot of versatility and use.

Whether a car needs roof rails depends on individual preferences, intended usage, and specific needs. Roof rails, also known as roof racks or roof bars, serve specific purposes that can make them valuable for some drivers, but they are not essential for all vehicles.

Cargo Transport: Roof rails provide a stable platform for attaching roof racks, cargo boxes, bike carriers, and other accessories. If you frequently transport sports equipment, luggage, or outdoor gear, roof rails can be highly convenient.

Aesthetics: Some people prefer the appearance of a car with integrated roof rails, which can enhance its overall design and make it look more rugged or versatile.

Resale Value: A vehicle with factory-installed roof rails may have a higher resale value, as it offers added utility and versatility that potential buyers may find appealing.

Off-Roading: For off-road enthusiasts, roof rails can be essential for mounting equipment such as rooftop tents, off-road lights, or additional storage for rugged adventures.

What is the difference between a roof rack and a roof rail?

Basically, the key difference between these two is the direction that they’re mounted on the roof of your vehicle. Roof rails run along the length of your car’s roof, whilst roof racks are mounted from door to door across your roof.

Roof racks and roof rails are both components used to enhance a vehicle’s cargo-carrying capacity, but they serve different functions and have distinct characteristics:

Roof Rack: A roof rack is a complete system designed to carry various types of cargo securely on the roof of a vehicle. It typically consists of crossbars that run across the width of the roof and mounting feet that attach to the roof’s surface. Roof racks are versatile and can support a wide range of accessories, including cargo boxes, bike racks, kayak carriers, and more. Roof racks are usually sold as complete kits, including crossbars, mounting feet, and any necessary accessories.  – They are essential for carrying bulky or specialized cargo safely.

Roof Rails: Roof rails are fixed or integrated bars that run along the length of a vehicle’s roof from front to back. They provide a base or foundation for attaching additional accessories, like crossbars or roof racks. Roof rails are often integrated into the design of some vehicles as a factory-installed feature, while others may require aftermarket installation. They are a basic structural component and are typically not designed to carry cargo on their own. Roof rails are more about providing attachment points and a streamlined look to the vehicle.

Are roof racks safe?

As long as you have installed the right size and style to suit your car, roof racks are perfectly safe to use. However, it is still possible for them to cause some damage to your car. This could happen if your roof racks aren’t installed correctly, have a loose fitting, or they’re carrying an excessive load.

Roof racks can be safe when used correctly and in compliance with manufacturer guidelines and load capacity specifications. However, it’s important to be aware of potential safety considerations when using roof racks:

Weight Distribution: Properly distribute the weight of your cargo on the roof rack. An uneven load or exceeding the recommended weight limit can affect vehicle stability, handling, and fuel efficiency.

Aerodynamics: Cargo on a roof rack can increase wind resistance, affecting your car’s aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Be cautious of high speeds and strong winds, as they may impact vehicle control.

Clearance: Ensure your cargo doesn’t obstruct visibility, block headlights, or interfere with the vehicle’s operation. Properly secure your items to prevent them from shifting or falling during travel.

Height Clearance: Be mindful of the additional height added by the cargo on the roof rack, especially when entering garages, tunnels, or low-clearance areas.

Accessories: Use appropriate accessories like cargo nets, tie-downs, and locks to secure your load and prevent theft.

Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect the roof rack system, including crossbars, mounting points, and cargo attachments, to ensure they are secure and in good condition.

Noise: Cargo on the roof rack can create additional noise during travel. Be prepared for increased wind noise, especially at higher speeds.


Installing a roof rack on a car without existing roof rails can be a rewarding endeavor that greatly expands your vehicle’s carrying capacity. While the process may seem daunting initially, following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking the time to ensure proper installation is crucial for safety and stability.

By gathering the necessary materials and tools, choosing the right location, and securely attaching the mounting feet and crossbars, you can create a stable and reliable roof rack system. Always remember to check for clearances and adhere to load capacity limits to maintain safety on the road.

With a properly installed roof rack, your car becomes a versatile tool for transporting a wide range of items, making it easier to embark on adventures and carry out daily tasks that require additional cargo space.

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