Roof rails - are they worth it?

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Jonathan.
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Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jonathan. »

Am planning to replace my car and am wondering if I should find one with roof rails. That would narrow my choice of models considerably.

is it worth it? Or is a rack fixed directly to the car roof just as effective?

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Kayaks'N'Beer
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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Kayaks'N'Beer »

Personally I just moved to a rails car and got three benefits, right off the cuff

1) Rated Load capacity jumped from 75kilos to 100kilos - kept the same bars, but changed the feet

2) Seems much less wiggly - was never entirely comfortable with the mounts on my old car. Never broke or anything but just seemed a bit shoolgie compared to the solid fit I have now

3) much less pissing about involved in taking them on and off cos it's a clamp fitting rather than nuts and bolts

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Strad »

Having moved from a car with rails to one without, I miss them terribly, very worthwhile indeed. For me could be close to a deal breaker on the next car, it would have to offer lots of exceptional points to make up for a lack of bars.
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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by surfkayaks.com »

Why not just buy the car you want , and put rails on if they aren't already fitted . plenty of "after market" options.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jonathan. »

Thanks folk.

And thanks for the question, Surfkayaks.com.

Trouble is that on many cars roof rails aren't an option. I like the sound of the new Golf, for example, but VW won't supply it with roof rails. Same is true of a lot of models, particularly smaller ones.

I hadn't thought of getting roof rails fitted by a third party. But now that I have, I'm guessing it would be a good way of messing up a guarantee.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Yew »

How about one with just fixpoints? My Mk1 Seat Leon just needs 4 screws to put the roof rack on and off. it takes literally 2 minuites.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by SeaSkye »

Fitted new roof bars to my new car last night ( Vauxhall Vectra Estate ) they are the "Fix-point" type....Crap... they do not seem nearly as secure as my previous set up with roof rails.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by StuartA »

The other benefit of roof rails is that you can often fit longer cross-bars than you can with standard fittings (especially manufacturers own racks which tend to be designed for asthetics rather than practicality). For example with a little modification I use aerobars from a VW Transporter on a Volvo V50. They don't extend beyond the width of the car but means I can get 4 sea kayaks on there (weight permitting) (or 2 sea kayaks and 2 bikes, etc).

IMHO estate cars look 'bald' without them but I guess that is just a matter of taste!

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by TechnoEngineer »

Jonathan. wrote:Roof rails - are they worth it?
Undoubtedly yes. Especially if they are bolted down with metal screws. Allegedly on some cars they're only glued or secured with plastic screws.
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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jonathan. »

TechnoEngineer wrote:
Jonathan. wrote:Roof rails - are they worth it?
Undoubtedly yes. Especially if they are bolted down with metal screws. Allegedly on some cars they're only glued or secured with plastic screws.
Yikes - scary!

Can you tell how the rails are fixed?

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by TechnoEngineer »

I believe they're bolted through the roof from inside the car. Utter PITA to retrofit; better to get a car that has them factory fitted.

I don't know which cars have the alleged inferior fittings. All I know for certain is that on Audis they are bolted on with metal screws.
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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by surfkayaks.com »

should only be a couple of hours to fit, Drop roof lining at side , drill 2-3 holes, sealant and bolt on. fitted a set to trafic using the fixed point mounts, took about 10 mins

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jonathan. »

surfkayaks.com wrote:should only be a couple of hours to fit, Drop roof lining at side , drill 2-3 holes, sealant and bolt on. fitted a set to trafic using the fixed point mounts, took about 10 mins
You'd make holes in the roof of a new car?

You're a braver man than me.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by surfkayaks.com »

we put them in new boats every day, whats the difference. measure twice, drill once, simplz,

What i "wouldnt" do is buy a "New car, complete waste of money.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jim »

I don't think I'd retrofit to a car, the roof loads are pretty low already and you want to be sure your chosen fixing points are strong enough. To a van maybe, especially having read the owners book for my sprinter which seems to imply that as long as you spread the load over a long enough area anything goes - of course being a high top I only get 150kg total, standard roof gets 300kg rating, when spread over the whole length (e.g. where it says use 5 cross bars, add 5 supports to the rails.... although I reckon 3-5 cross bars on the rails are essential to spread it over the supports).

Roof rails would be my preference, but read the forums for the cars you are considering first and make sure they are securely bolted types, I have also read that some are just glued or use minimal attachments.

I don't buy new cars either, high mileage are much cheaper, you get to spread the cost over repairs instead of paying it all up front.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by PeterG »

We have a Skoda with very good fixed points, the feet clamp themselves down very very strongly indeed.

However, I would go for rails every time, they give some flexibility in where to place the bars so that the bars fit your sea kayak or your playboat. They are lower for getting under that height barrier or 1.85m on the ferries. They are solid, at least our 2003 Passat is. The car is giving into rust from 10 years of salt water drips, so I had a look under the roof rail plastic trim to reassure myself that they would not break off. Massive bolts to a mass of metal underneath, the roll-cage I suppose, the roof rails will be the last thing standing when all else has rusted away.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Image
I go for no rails and fixing points every time. A friend lost his kayak from the roof of a Peugeot 406 estate when the front fixing bolt of the rail failed due to unseen corrosion. It was plain steel and had undoubtedly been affected by drips of salt water in the six years he had the car. My BMW roof has four very solid fixing points under little plastic flaps. The rack is secured by 4 stainless steel bolts, which are tightened by the supplied torque wrench. I like to see what is holding a very big load to my roof. The two roof bars also fit lower than crossbars bolted to roof rails and mount the sea kayak horizontally because they are the same height. Several modern estate roofs slope back, so that the bows of the kayaks are angled up creating a lot more drag.

Image
A friend with an Impreza Turbo was initially disappointed when he changed to an STi that no rails. However, he now also prefers the fixing points and roof bars for the reasons above. He had previously to take the Impreza back to the dealer when the rails loosed off.

Douglas

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by MikeB »

Roof rails for me - on an Audi - or, the concept Douglas mentions is also excellent. I've heard several stories of the rails coming off Peugeots - but I also know of one Passat where the mount tore out of the rail itself. There is much to be said for bow and stern ties! Mike

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Grian »

I always tie down bow and stern as well as attach to the roof if going any distance. I am a bit paranoid but wouldn't like to depend on the roof bars entirely on a fast road with lots of traffic.

I was passed by a car last year with one of two boats hanging off at 40 degrees, they were near a launch point and probably only just loaded them on and maybe one person thought the other had secured the second boat...

This has fed my boat falling off anxiety and I'm off to buy more straps!

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by surfkayaks.com »

Missing the point here, the bmw has great fixed points for the rack, that you can utilise for rails, am sure a lot of other cars have a similar setup.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Jim »

surfkayaks.com wrote:Missing the point here, the bmw has great fixed points for the rack, that you can utilise for rails, am sure a lot of other cars have a similar setup.
My mate's 911 had similar fixing points, he had to take it back to the garage to have them clear the paint out of the threads so he could fit a rack to it though, I don't think Porsche ever really expected them to be used....

My Vectra has, or had, a subtly different system. There are bolt holes mounted horizontally into the edge of the roof behind the door seals. The factory rack (which I was told is very good but could not find at the time) has feet which are secured using bolts. The Thule rack which I have has spikes which engage in the same bolt holes - with the rack tensioned up it is very solid and can't peel up because of the spikes (unless something breaks but that lays all bets off with any system!). I haven't checked to see whether the spikes have damaged the threads but I would expect so by now.
Unfortunately the bars are too close together and there is no way to adjust for the curve of the roof , although it is minimal over that area (probably why the bars are mounted so close), which coupled with a change in bend radius on the Karitek J's means my boat fits best if I move it slightly back so the front sits a little high.

Hopefully I will have my other car back on the road soon and then I can just throw the boat inside and not worry about roof racks!

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Blutack »

One important factor is how far apart you can mount your roof bars. In my old Megane, they mounted at a fixed (and relatively short) distance apart, which meant that any sideways forces, say from cross-winds were magnified when carrying something as long as a kayak.

I then changed to a Focus estate with T-track fittings, and was able to put one bar right at the back, and the other right at the front of the tracks. This made the whole setup far more secure IMHO.

HTH!

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Mike A »

The T tracks on the early mk2 focus are superb for being able to position the roof bars so far apart. It makes for a really stable load when carrying an open or sea kayak, which is key to what makes roof rails so great. Only pity is that the roofline isn't flatter.

The new rail looks good on the mk3 focus as well - with no leg area, you can position the roofrack pretty much right at the ends of the rail - something you cant do with normal style rails.

Its just a pity that Ford buggered up the TDCI engines so much compared to their PSA partners. I can't recall them needing so much attention to DPF's, leaking injectors, blown Turbos, etc etc

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Blutack »

Mike A wrote:Its just a pity that Ford buggered up the TDCI engines so much compared to their PSA partners. I can't recall them needing so much attention to DPF's, leaking injectors, blown Turbos, etc etc
I wasn't going to mention that bit though Mike, since it's a bit off topic. However, you're 100% correct, and I was very upset at having a diesel engine die with less than 100K on the clock. Now driving a Skoda, and missing the heated front windscreen and t-tracks, but life must go on ;-)

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by blurpup »

Having been in a vectra that had the roofrack bolted directly through the roof (standard design mountings with Thule bar kit), and had the entire roofrack rip off leaving 4 gaping holes in the roof, the rear windscreen punched out and the entire roofrack with boats in the outside lane of the M1 on a Friday night - I would always recommend bow ties on any setup - bolted, clamped or roof rail.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by John N »

Bring back rain gutters.

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Carbonius »

yes, definately and no doubt!

Jonathan. wrote:Am planning to replace my car and am wondering if I should find one with roof rails. That would narrow my choice of models considerably.

is it worth it? Or is a rack fixed directly to the car roof just as effective?

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Uisce »

About to buy an Avensis Tourer (08). Looking forward to going back to an estate with rails. I've been making do with a company Fiesta for the past two years, and while a fine little car,as a paddler it's useless. With a 50kg legal roof load and bars spaced quite close, I've never been comfortable with my sea boat on the roof. Cross winds are terrifying!

Given the discussion about the varying robustness of rails, does anyone know how the Avensis stacks up. I'm hoping typical toyota build quality?

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by Grian »

Well that was scary!

Previous car had roof rails to which I bolted cross bars and that worked fine for several years. Current car doesn't have rails so this morning we attached roof rack to the fitting points, added new j-bars, and loaded one kayak for a short test drive at low speeds, just a few miles to the garage to give it a wash and brush up. Despite our concerns the j-bar attachments held fine, as did the fixing points. However the front roof bar bent - very possibly snapped - inside the plastic outer sleeve. Kayak slumped over and thankfully we could quickly pull over, otherwise I think it'd have torn through completely. Had this happened on our journey planned for next weekend we'd have been on dual carriageway...

It was windy but have driven a long way in worse, and we were driving slowly. Am now really really favouring a folding boat!

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Re: Roof rails - are they worth it?

Post by MikeB »

Ouch! May I ask what make the bar is? There are good bars and less good ones - - - and having this thread include such details is very valuable - - -

As to folding boats, I will share a little experience with you which might influence your thinking. Two paddling friends have them - Feathercrafts - in both cases, they have found that the assembly time is such that they leave the boats assembled. During one of our trips to the OH, I had to transport one of them as the guy concerned didn't have cradles on his new vehicle. The boat was one of the F/craft singles, but I can't recall which one.

On the journey from Barra up to N.Uist, despite being in wide J cradles, the boat was flexing to such an extent that not only did I have to keep my speed down, but I ended up using bow and stern ties on it whereas my own hard-shell was solid. The vast majority of the time I don't bother with bow / stern ties, and that's with two hard-shells on the roof, at motorway speeds.

The other F/craft, a big double, is transported in an extended rack fitted with additional cradles such that it has 4 contact points - it travels flat. The rack extension is essential to give it enough support and stop it flexing as it's transported.

All I'm saying is that folders are great for storage - but the practical reality of them is that you might find you end up leaving it assembled quite a lot of the time.

Mike

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