How to attach a cargo box to a roof rack

8 min read
Last Updated: Jul 8, 2024
BY: Matt Keepnes

Do you need Roof Bars?

You'll need some roof bars to fit these boxes. We recommend you order these directly from your vehicles manufacturer.

Whether you're heading off on a family holiday, embarking on an outdoor adventure, or simply in need of extra storage space for a long journey, attaching a cargo box to your roof rack is a practical and efficient solution. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through the essential steps to securely fasten a cargo box to your roof rack, ensuring the safety of your belongings and the comfort of your passengers. So let's dive in and get ready to maximise your vehicle's storage capacity with ease and confidence.

Introducing the concept of attaching a cargo box to a roof rack

A cargo box is a convenient and practical solution for increasing storage capacity when travelling by car. By attaching a cargo box to a roof rack, you can transport luggage, camping equipment, or other belongings with ease.

Benefits of using a cargo box

A cargo box offers several benefits, including extra storage space, protection for your belongings from the elements, and a reduction in clutter inside the vehicle, making for a more comfortable journey.

Importance of properly attaching a cargo box to the roof rack

Ensuring that your cargo box is securely attached to the roof rack is crucial for both safety and convenience. A properly installed cargo box will remain stable during transit and reduce the risk of accidents or damage to your vehicle and belongings.

How do you attach a cargo box to a roof rack?

Choosing the right cargo box

Selecting a cargo box suitable for the vehicle and the roof rack

Not all cargo boxes fit all vehicles or roof racks. Consider factors such as the size of your vehicle, the type of roof rack you have, and the load capacity of both the vehicle and the roof rack.

Comparing different types of cargo boxes

Cargo boxes come in various materials, such as hard plastic, aluminium, or fibreglass. Shapes include wedge, rectangular, and slimline designs. Choose a cargo box based on your storage needs and vehicle compatibility.

Impact of Aerodynamics and fuel efficiency

Aerodynamic cargo boxes reduce wind resistance and fuel consumption. Consider this factor when selecting a cargo box to maintain a more fuel-efficient drive.

Preparing the roof rack and cargo box

Properly cleaning and inspecting the roof rack and cargo box

Before installation, ensure both the roof rack and cargo box are clean and free of debris. Inspect them for damage or wear that could compromise the security of the attachment.

Checking compatibility between the roof rack and cargo box

Verify that the mounting hardware provided with the cargo box is compatible with your roof rack. If not, consult the manufacturer or purchase the appropriate hardware.

Installing the mounting hardware

Follow the cargo box manufacturer's instructions for installing the mounting hardware on the roof rack. Ensure all parts are correctly attached and secure.

Positioning the cargo box

Placing the cargo box in the right position

Place the cargo box on the roof rack according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Ensure the box is centred and balanced to avoid uneven weight distribution.

Balancing the weight and ensuring even distribution

Position the cargo box so that the load is evenly distributed across the roof rack. This helps maintain vehicle stability and prevents damage to the roof rack or cargo box.

Potential issues caused by incorrect positioning

Incorrect positioning can cause poor vehicle handling, reduced fuel efficiency, or damage to the roof rack, cargo box, or vehicle.

Securing the cargo box to the roof rack

Types of straps and fasteners

Cargo boxes are commonly secured with ratchet straps, cam buckle straps, or integrated locking systems. Choose the appropriate method based on your cargo box and roof rack.

Using appropriate tension

Ensure straps and fasteners are tight enough to secure the cargo box without causing damage. Over-tightening can damage the box, while under-tightening can allow the box to shift during transit.

Checking and adjusting strap tightness

Regularly check the tightness of the straps and fasteners during your journey. Adjust as needed to maintain the proper tension and secure attachment.

Loading the cargo box

Distributing weight evenly

When packing the cargo box, distribute the weight of your items evenly to maintain balance and avoid overloading one side.

Packing fragile items

Use padding or cushioning materials to protect fragile items. Ensure they are securely packed to prevent movement and potential damage during transit.

Not exceeding the maximum weight capacity

Be mindful of the cargo box's maximum weight capacity and avoid overloading. Exceeding the limit can compromise the safety and stability of the vehicle.

Double-checking your work

Importance of double-checking the installation

Before setting off, double-check the cargo box installation to ensure everything is securely attached and tightened. This helps prevent accidents and potential damage to the vehicle or cargo box.

Checklist for proper installation

Create a checklist to verify that all mounting hardware is securely fastened, straps are tight, and the cargo box is properly positioned and balanced.

Consequences of improper installation

An improperly installed cargo box can cause accidents, damage to your vehicle or cargo box, and may even result in fines or penalties for not adhering to safety regulations.

Safety considerations while driving

How a cargo box affects vehicle handling and stability

A cargo box can alter the vehicle's centre of gravity, affecting handling and stability. Be mindful of this change, especially when cornering, braking, or driving in windy conditions.

Adjusting driving habits

When driving with a cargo box, adjust your driving habits by allowing for more braking distance, taking corners more slowly, and being more cautious in general.

Potential hazards and emergency situations

Be prepared for potential hazards such as sudden gusts of wind, debris on the road, or emergency stops. Drive defensively and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.

Regular maintenance and care

Importance of regular maintenance

Regularly inspect and maintain your cargo box and roof rack to ensure they remain in good condition and function safely.

Tips for cleaning, inspecting, and repairing damage

Clean your cargo box and roof rack with mild soap and water. Inspect them for signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or corrosion. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage or safety concerns.

Proper storage of the cargo box

When not in use, store the cargo box in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. This helps maintain the longevity of the cargo box.

Troubleshooting common issues

  • Identifying common problems: Common issues with attaching a cargo box to a roof rack include incompatible hardware, loose straps or fasteners, and poor weight distribution.
  • Solutions and tips for addressing issues: Address compatibility issues by purchasing the appropriate hardware or consulting the manufacturer. Regularly check and tighten straps and fasteners. Distribute the load evenly within the cargo box to maintain balance.
  • When to seek professional assistance: If you encounter issues with the installation or operation of your cargo box that you cannot resolve, consult a professional for assistance.

Alternatives to cargo boxes

Advantages and disadvantages of other storage solutions

Alternatives such as roof bags and hitch-mounted cargo carriers offer different benefits and drawbacks. Roof bags are generally more affordable and easier to store but may not be as durable or weather-resistant as cargo boxes. Hitch-mounted carriers provide easy access to your belongings but may limit rear visibility and require a hitch receiver.

Suitability for different vehicles and situations

Consider the type of vehicle, storage needs, and budget when selecting the best storage solution. Smaller cars may benefit from roof bags, while larger vehicles with a hitch receiver may find hitch-mounted carriers more suitable.

Selecting the best storage solution

Assess your individual needs, vehicle compatibility, and budget to determine the most appropriate storage solution for your situation.


Recapping the key points

In this article, we've covered essential steps for choosing the right cargo box, preparing the roof rack and cargo box, positioning and securing the cargo box, loading it correctly, and maintaining it for long-lasting use. We've also addressed common troubleshooting issues and explored alternatives to cargo boxes for those seeking other storage solutions.

Encouraging safe and effective attachment

We hope this guide has provided you with the necessary knowledge to confidently and safely attach a cargo box to your roof rack. By following the guidelines and tips presented, you'll ensure the security of your belongings and the overall safety of your vehicle while on the road.

Inviting readers to share experiences and tips

Your experiences and insights are invaluable to fellow travellers. We encourage you to share your own tips and suggestions for successful cargo box installation and use in the comments section below. Together, we can create a supportive community, helping one another make the most of our cargo box adventures.



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creator of

Matt Keepnes

Matt Keepnes, travel enthusiast and creator of I share expert tips on car storage solutions for seamless travels, combining personal experiences with practical advice.

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