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How to Choose the Right Roof Rack

Author: American Van
by American Van
Posted: Nov 16, 2016

A roof rack is an open framework that is attached to the roof of the van. It provides a secure holding area for a variety of items such as ladders, timber, boards, tools, etc. These racks are designed to accommodate a bulky volume of goods, and are extremely handy when there is no space inside the van, or if the equipment you wish to carry are unable to fit inside the storage space of your truck or cargo van. The markets are saturated with a wide variety of roof racks, and the consumer is spoilt for choice based on the different styles, designs, manufacturers and fitments, thus becoming increasingly hard to choose one that suits your needs. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right roof rack for your cargo vans.

Heavy Duty v/s Lightweight

A lightweight rack does not necessarily mean a flimsier version of a heavy duty rack. The advancements in manufacturing technology have enabled manufacturers to produce lightweight, yet robust roof racks. Lightweight racks are generally preferred in cases where detachable roof racks are more applicable; especially in select months across the year. These racks have a set of clamps that enable them hold all stored items securely over the roof of the van, and once the transit is completed, these racks can be removed and stored until the next use. Being light in weight makes it easier for users to handle them at the time of installing and uninstalling the roof racks.

Heavy duty racks are usually preferred for usage as fixed roof racks. In most cases, they are permanently bolted down to the roof of the cargo van. These racks are generally stronger and more secure when compared to lightweight models, and have a better load bearing capability. Installing a permanent roof rack requires special tools and expertise since one has to drill and cut through the roof to secure the racks, thus incurring additional costs. Since they are always fixed to the roof, they are constantly exposed to the elements of nature and require frequent maintenance to prevent rusting and deterioration.

The Right Fit

One of the most important aspects of a roof rack is its fit. The size of the racks selected by you should be proportional to that of the van. A roof that is too big or too small will be a hindrance than and will affect the overall aesthetic look of the vehicle as well. When opting for a removable roof rack, make sure that it is easy to install and uninstall and, that its fitting offers a credible degree of stability.

Expandable roof racks are quite a rage these days. One needs to factor in the change in stability and weight distribution for both the expanded and the contracted set ups. Most modern roof racks come with the ability to be expanded with minor changes in their design, courtesy the addition of extra accessories.

The Purpose

One has to be very clear about the purpose that a roof rack has to satisfy when choosing this utility. If you are planning on carrying heavy duty equipment and ladders, a simple roof rack will not suffice. In such cases, you will have to invest in heavy duty racks that have been tested for commercial grade operations. Looking into specifications such as the make, and the load bearing limit per bar, will help you zero in on the racks that fits your requirements.

Quality Construction

The quality of construction determines the longevity and robustness of any roof rack. The quality of the bras on the rack becomes secondary when the fitting and the build are subpar. Racks that are fitted together with low grade materials and sloppy workmanship will result in frequent breakages and quick ruin.

Since these racks are exposed to the sun, rain and dust, they must be covered in a protective coating of some sort. This coating should be robust and should not easily peel off due to excessive heat, or while the loading/ unloading cargo from the racks is in progress. Care should also be taken to check the quality of the welds and the clamp fittings.

Types of Roof Racks

Roof racks are traditionally classified based on their set up and installation methods. Although their primary function is the same, the designs and operation modes of different kinds of roof racks varies greatly and are designed exclusively to handle specific cargo and equipment. The most common types of roof racks includes-

  • Base Racks: As the name implies, these are mounted directly on to the roof using specialized clamps and fitting kits, which help in keeping the bars in place. These are available in both custom designs and standard designs, and can be chosen depending on your needs.

  • Lock Down Racks: This is an example of the temporary rack, which can be clamped down on the roof only when in need. The specialized design of this type of roof racks makes it an apt solution to carry extra ladders and heavy cargo on the roof.

  • Side Access Rotation racks: Rotation racks are operated by a hydraulic system, which makes it easier to load and unload the equipment on to the racks. It is light in weight, yet sturdy and easy to install.

  • Cargo Carrier Racks: Also known as utility carriers, these roof racks rare made of heavy gauge steel with a zinc plate coating for added weather protection. This rack is in the category of a fixed type of roof rack.

Overcoming the Dilemma

Choosing the right roof rack is no child’s play. It is important to weigh in all the possible options at your disposal to come to a logical conclusion of what suits your requirements the best. Installing a roof rack- both fixed and temporary ones- is a costly affair. Hence it is important to make the right decision at all costs. The right choice in roof rack will result in years of faithful service.

Taking time to understanding the requirements and the type of loads a roof rack will bear will enable you to invest in the right model that will pay off in the long run. Roof racks are no longer considered to be just a utility requirement. With the right style and design, it can also add to the aesthetic appeal of your truck. Since a roof rack is expected to be in use for years on end, it might be wise to look into the styling aspect when investing in a roof rack.

Are you ready to buy the best roof racks for your vehicle?

About the Author

A U.S manufacturer and a direct retailer of Van & Truck equipment Including Shelving units, Bin systems, Ladder racks, Partitions, Floor storage, Truck boxes, Pick up truck equipment & accessories since 1978.

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Author: American Van

American Van

Member since: Oct 25, 2015
Published articles: 4

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