How to install roof rack on a car without rails: Step-by-step

7 min read
Last Updated: Jun 9, 2024
BY: Matt Keepnes
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Are you an adventure seeker who loves to hit the open road and explore the great outdoors? Do you find yourself running out of storage space in your car when it comes to packing your gear? A roof rack might be just what you need to solve your storage problems! Installing a roof rack on a car without rails is a relatively simple DIY project that can make a big difference in your ability to transport large items, like bikes, kayaks, and skis.

In this article, we'll guide you through the process of installing a roof rack on your car without rails, and provide some tips and tricks to make the job go smoothly. We'll assume that you've already purchased the roof rack kit that's right for your car and needs, and that you have all the necessary tools and materials.

Install a roof rack on a car without rails step-by-steps

Installing a roof rack on a car without rails can be done with a few simple steps, and here's how to do it with proof:

Materials needed:

  • Roof rack kit (with brackets and screws)
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Socket wrench or pliers
  • Torque wrench
  • Step stool or ladder (optional)

Steps:

  1. Measure the distance between the front and rear doors of the car. This will help determine the proper placement of the roof rack brackets.
  2. Using the measuring tape and marker, mark the locations where the brackets will be installed. These marks should be on the roof of the car, in a straight line parallel to the doors.
  3. Attach the brackets to the roof of the car using the screws provided in the roof rack kit. Make sure to use the appropriate socket wrench or pliers to tighten the screws.
  4. Once the brackets are attached, attach the crossbars to the brackets. The crossbars should be positioned perpendicular to the brackets and should be secured in place with the screws provided in the kit.
  5. Use a torque wrench to ensure that the screws are tightened to the appropriate torque setting, as specified in the roof rack kit instructions.
  6. Test the roof rack by pulling on the crossbars and checking to make sure they are securely attached to the brackets. If they move or are loose, double-check that the screws are tightened to the proper torque setting.

Here's a video tutorial from etrailer.com that shows the process of installing a roof rack on a car without rails, with step-by-step instructions and visual proof: https://www.etrailer.com/tv-Install-Roof-Rack-2016-Mazda-CX-5-Thule-Kit.aspx

Choosing the Right Roof Rack for Your Car

Before you get started, you need to make sure that you have the right roof rack for your car. Roof racks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it's important to choose one that is compatible with your car's make and model. Some roof racks are designed to attach directly to the roof of your car, while others require a specific mounting system. Look for a roof rack that can support the weight of your gear, and make sure it's made of high-quality materials that can withstand the elements.

Gathering Your Tools and Materials

Once you have your roof rack kit, you'll need to gather a few tools and materials to help with the installation. You'll need a measuring tape, marker, socket wrench or pliers, torque wrench, and a step stool or ladder. You may also want to use a protective pad or towel to prevent scratches to your car's roof.

Measuring and Marking the Placement of the Roof Rack

With your tools and materials in hand, you're ready to start installing the roof rack. The first step is to measure the distance between the front and rear doors of your car and mark the locations where the roof rack brackets will be installed. Use a measuring tape to find the center of the roof, and then measure the distance between the doors to determine where the brackets should go. Use a marker to make a small dot at each location.

Attaching the Roof Rack Brackets to the Car

Next, it's time to attach the roof rack brackets to the roof of your car. To do this, you'll need to remove the covers that conceal the mounting points. If your car doesn't have pre-drilled holes for the roof rack brackets, you'll need to use the screws provided in the kit to attach the brackets to the roof. Use a socket wrench or pliers to tighten the screws until they are snug.

Installing the Crossbars on the Roof Rack

With the brackets in place, you can install the crossbars on the roof rack. Make sure the crossbars are positioned perpendicular to the brackets and then secure them in place with the screws provided in the kit. Use a torque wrench to tighten the screws to the recommended torque setting. Be careful not to over-tighten the screws, as this can cause damage to the roof or the roof rack.

Securing the Roof Rack and Testing for Stability

Now that the roof rack is installed, it's time to test it for stability. Give the roof rack a gentle shake to make sure it's secure, and then use a torque wrench to ensure that all screws are tightened to the appropriate torque setting. Double-check the instructions provided with your roof rack kit to make sure you've installed it correctly and that everything is securely fastened.

Tips and Tricks for Installing a Roof Rack on a Car Without Rails

Installing a roof rack on a car without rails can seem daunting, but with a few tips and tricks, the process can go smoothly and efficiently. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Follow the instructions provided in the roof rack kit: Each roof rack kit is unique and comes with specific instructions. It's important to carefully read and follow the instructions to ensure that the roof rack is installed correctly.
  2. Use a protective pad or towel: When installing the roof rack brackets, it's a good idea to use a protective pad or towel to prevent scratches or dents to the roof of your car.
  3. Double-check the placement of the brackets: Before you attach the roof rack brackets to your car, double-check the placement to make sure they are aligned correctly.
  4. Don't over-tighten the screws: Over-tightening the screws can cause damage to your car or roof rack. Use a torque wrench to ensure that the screws are tightened to the recommended torque setting.
  5. Test the roof rack for stability: Give the roof rack a gentle shake to make sure it's secure and stable. Make any necessary adjustments and retest as needed.
  6. Don't exceed the weight limit: Be sure to follow the weight limit recommended by the roof rack manufacturer. Exceeding the weight limit can cause damage to the roof of your car or the roof rack.
  7. Consider adding locks: If you plan on leaving your gear on the roof rack unattended, consider adding locks to prevent theft.

Installing a roof rack on a car without rails can be a great way to increase your storage space and transport large items. With the right tools, materials, and instructions, the process can be relatively simple and straightforward. Remember to follow the tips and tricks above to ensure a successful installation and safe transportation of your gear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install a roof rack on a car without rails?

Yes, you can install a roof rack on a car without rails. Non-rail roof racks are designed to fit onto the roof of a car without any existing rails.

How do I know which roof rack is right for my car?

It's important to choose a roof rack that is compatible with your car's make and model. Check the manufacturer's website or consult with a sales representative to find the right roof rack for your car.

What tools do I need to install a roof rack on a car without rails?

You'll need a wrench, a screwdriver, and a torque wrench. Check the roof rack's instructions to see if any additional tools are required.

Can I install a non-rail roof rack by myself?

Yes, you can install a non-rail roof rack by yourself as long as you have the necessary tools and follow the instructions carefully. However, if you're not comfortable installing it yourself, you can also seek the help of a professional.

How do I know if the roof rack is secure?

Test the roof rack's stability by pushing it from side to side before hitting the road. If it moves, double-check the brackets and screws to make sure everything is secure.

What's the weight limit for a roof rack?

The weight limit for a roof rack varies depending on the make and model. Check the manufacturer's instructions to determine the weight limit for your roof rack.

Can I remove the roof rack when I'm not using it?

Yes, you can remove the roof rack when you're not using it to reduce wind resistance and increase fuel efficiency.

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creator of RoofboxTop.com

Matt Keepnes

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

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