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Can I Add Roof Rails to My Car

Can I Add Roof Rails to My Car

Roof rails are common in most modern cars you see on the roads. But a few manufacturers have not embraced equipping their vehicles with these accessories before leaving the factory. The issue pushes several car owners to ask, “Can I add roof rails to my car?”

However, most modern cars like SUVs and hatchbacks come with roof rails. But surprisingly, many people don’t know the purpose of these accessories.

Unless you own a car and know some of the basics, you will always wonder about some of the items you see in them. Luckily, you will have all the information about roof rails by the end of this article.

Accessories that don’t come with cars from the factory are called ‘aftermarkets.’ Aftermarket accessories are added to the vehicle for various purposes. You may add them for aerodynamics, comfortability, and extra cargo space.

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What’s the Purpose of Roof Rails?

man in brown tank top standing on white car
SUV roof rack

Car roof rails are installed along the car’s roof length. If you live in the mountains, you regularly enjoy snowboarding. These accessories can be beneficial in carrying your gear.

During winter, you can load your snowboarding gear on the roof rails if your trunk is full of other items. In simple, you can load your sporting items like skis on the roof rail.

That aside, if you are traveling long distances, you may need to carry your car cover, tent, or other heavy items. Once you install roof rails, mounting a roof rack to move these items is a simple task.

Cars like SUVs and hatchbacks are suitable for roof rails due to their extended roofs. However, some car owners add roof racks and rails to their sedan models. They, too, look fantastic.

On the other hand, you may add roof rails to your car for styling purposes. Most cars appear modernistic with roof rails and racks.

Additionally, some rails are also installed for aerodynamic purposes.

Can I Add Roof Rails to My Car?

white bmw x series on brown grass field
Roof rail

Yes, if your car doesn’t come with a roof rail from the factory, you can add one. All you need is to use the proper technique, correct installation procedure, and purchase suitable rails.

Your car may require a roof rack instead of roof rails alone. So, it’s wise to carry out several observations before adding your aftermarket accessory. Take a look;

  1. Examine if your car roof has pre-installed raised rails. If the car already has rails from the factory, you are good to add a roof rack for heavy loading.
  2. Luckily, some cars have mounting hardware on the framework. It’s usually covered using a protective casing. If your vehicle has these items, installing your rails is cheaper.
  3. Your car may require installation on a bare roof. You may have to spend more on drilling the roof surface and purchasing all necessary items. If you don’t have skills, you may need a specialist to avoid damaging the roof.

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Does Adding Aftermarket Roof Rails Affect Car Insurance?

Roof rails and racks are considered cosmetics and performance enhancers by many car insurers. To clarify, they are all considered mainstream, like adding alarms, stereo systems, and locking mechanisms.

It’s wise to consult your car insurer before adding any aftermarket accessories. Most of the items may be covered, but you must be ready to face an increase in your insurance rates.

Especially the roof rails, you require some modifications on the car’s roof. This is known as a high-value modification that attracts more charges by the insurance.

Visit your insurance offices and discuss the rates to determine whether to find another cheaper insurance company.

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person driving silver SUV on road in open field at dytime
Roof rail

How Do You Install Roof Rails On the Car?

You can install roof rails on your car if you have basic skills and the necessary items. Here is the procedure of how to install roof rails.

Step 1: Assemble the Roof Rails

Once you have purchased your suitable roof rails, assemble them and ensure you have all the screws in the kit.

Then, confirm the length of the units to ensure they match your roof. The rails should be centered and installed in a manner that will not affect the vehicle’s performance.

Step 2: Gather Your DIY Equipment

You should have a tape measure, electric drill, silicon sealant, and screwdriver. Please read the other steps to understand how you would use them.

Step 3: Measure and Mark the Drilling Points

Measure the rails’ length and mark the exact points you would drill the holes. Afterward, drill the holes using your electric driller and use a drill stop.

The drill stop prevents you from extending to excessive length.

Step 4: Set your Roof Rails on the Roof for Installation

Once you have placed the roof rails on the roof, insert self-sealing screws from the car interior.

Step 5: Apply Silicone Sealant

Silicon sealant covers the drilled holes from leaking. Apply your sealant on the sides of the mounting screws and ensure no gaps are left. Then, tighten the screws using a screwdriver.

Note if your car has mounting hardware, there is no need to drill; all you need is to ply out the plastic cover on the gutter and install your side rail.

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Types of Roof Rails

Roof rails are designed for different purposes. Take a look at various types in the market;

1.      Side roof rails

They are also known as faux roof rails. These rails are installed for aesthetic purposes and not cargo.

They don’t guarantee cargo security since they are not raised from the roof surface to create a better space for mounting the crossbars.

2.      Flush roof rails

They are installed horizontally on the car roof, running from side to side. Usually, their feet sit above the door sills.

The rails are suitable for cargo due to their flexibility and durability. However, it’s wise to read the manufacturer’s installation guide to know the cargo weight you should load.

3.      Raised roof rails

Usually, they are factory installed. Raised roof rails provide a high load limit on the vehicle because you can decide to add roof racks on them.

FAQs on Car Roof Rails

Can Roof Rails be Installed Aftermarket?

Aftermarket roof rails are available at the local car accessories dealers. Luckily, some dealers offer installation services.

Can You Fit Roof Bars to a Car Without Roof Rails?

There are unique roof bars explicitly designed for cars without roof rails.

How Much Does it Cost to Put a Roof Rack on a Car?

The price may vary depending on the items you need. A complete roof rack setup may cost around $150. 

The good thing is that you can add roof rails to your car. If you find a good model without these accessories from the factory, don’t hesitate to purchase them.

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