Tips for Securing Items to the Roof of a Car

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Car roofWhether you are taking your children to college or going on holiday, you may want to tie large items like bicycles, furniture and Mattresses on top of your car. If you do not know how to do this safely and effectively, follow these guidelines:

  • Never exceed the load rating of your vehicle and roof rack. If you do not know what they are, research it. It is incredibly important, not only because it might collapse the roof onto the passengers, but because each vehicle becomes unsteerable at a different weight and height.

  • Let the shape of your car guide you. It has been designed to create the least possible wind resistance. The more you diverge from that shape, the more wind drag you will create and the more fuel you will use.

  • It is not advisable to tie objects to the top of your vehicle without a roof rack by using, for example, a blanket for padding and ropes through the doors. This makes it almost impossible to stop the objects from moving while you drive.

  • Spread the load evenly from front to back. Too much in the middle may dent the roof. Too much in the front may cause it to slip forward and off when you break suddenly. Too much at the back makes steering feel light and vague.

  • Pack as low as possible. The higher the vehicle, the more it will sway while you drive. Trucks are large and heavy enough to stay on the road while swaying at the top, small vehicles are not. 

  • Do not tie items to the roof that protrude in a way that may cause an accident. Sideways protrusion invites a crash from vehicles that move in the opposite direction. If the item is long, tie large red and yellow flags to it so other motorists would see it.


  • Anchor the load on all four corners and in the middle. If it is a long load that protrudes, tie items tightly to each other and to the rack. Use tie-down straps, not ropes. These are rated for specific weights and sizes, while ropes may fray and break. 

  • You can use rubber matting to prevent items from sliding against each other.

Following these guidelines may save your possessions, and may save you from lawsuits for damages by your fellow motorists and pedestrians.