When it comes to transporting luggage and various loads on your roof rack, you’ll want to spend some time making sure your cargo is properly secured. It’s simple physics that anything with mass and a certain acceleration can have a great amount of force upon impact (i.e., Newton’s second law of motion), and you don’t want to be responsible for serious accidents on the road. Use these steps to ensure that your luggage and other cargo stay secure on top of your car.
1. Think about carrying capacity
Although your car roof offers you extra space to transport luggage and other oversized items, it’s important that you don’t go overboard. Consider the carrying capacity of your roof by consulting your owner’s manual to check how much weight it can support.
It’s recommended that you don’t exceed whatever limit is listed in your owner’s manual, so that you don’t damage your car. If your car has a sunroof, be mindful of placing anything too heavy on top in case the glass breaks, and if you have a convertible, don’t try to carry anything on there at all.
If you own a sedan or smaller car that doesn’t have roof racks already on top, you can try installing your own based on your roof type. Additionally, consider a different kind of exterior carrier, like a trunk rack, if your roof doesn’t support a rack.
2. Measure your luggage
The second step to successfully carrying luggage on top of your car is to make sure it will fit on your roof securely. Measure your luggage and the roof of your car and plan out how everything will fit before you pack it on your roof.
You’ll want to make sure that nothing is hanging over the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view. Additionally, if you have cross-bar luggage racks, your suitcases will need to fit inside of the rack and not over them.
3. Load your cargo
Once you know how much your roof can carry and plan out how everything will fit, it’s time to load your cargo. Give yourself ample time and space to lift heavy objects. This can help prevent any injuries to your neck and back. Also, pack items one by one to reduce any accidents caused by falling objects.
4. Secure your load
After everything is loaded onto your car roof, you’ll want to make sure that it’s all tightly secured and won’t move or leave the car. A load is considered technically secure when nothing is able to drop, leak or escape into the air or onto the road. When tying down any cargo, it’s good to remember to fasten it both widthwise and lengthwise.
To secure your load, use tie-down or ratchet straps to fasten your luggage to your car roof. Ratchet straps are strong and secure cargo very well, but be mindful that you aren’t exceeding the load limit of the strap.
If you don’t have ratchet straps, you can also use nylon rope or cinching straps to tie down your cargo. It’s best to have enough rope or strap to pass over your load at least twice. You’ll also want to pass them through the windows and tie them inside your car for added security.
5. Go for a short test drive
Once you’ve secured your cargo to your roof and double-checked that nothing can escape, it can be helpful to go for a short test drive around your block or neighborhood. Drive around and listen for anything flapping or moving. If you hear any sort of rattling noises, it’s a good indication that you need to check your load and better secure it.
After going for a test drive and making any necessary adjustments, you should be ready to hit the road. Remember that if any noises or movements occur during your trip, you should always pull over and assess the situation before continuing.