Whether you’ve bought a set of roof bars for your next family road trip or to haul an old sofa to your local recycling centre, they are well worth the money. When it comes down to fitting the roof bars, the installation does vary from car to car. For example, some cars may have raised roof rails, solid roof rails, fixing points or nothing at all.
Depending upon whether your car has raised or solid roof rails, fixing points or nothing whatsoever will determine the best way to fit roof bars. Both solid and raised roof rails are the easiest to install and are often found on the majority of estate cars or SUV’s. The roof bars simply attach straight onto the rails and the only difference between the two is the space between the roof and the rails.
Cars that don’t come with rails may use fixing points or nothing at all. The fixing point design can be found on any type of vehicle and is designed to allow you to fit roof bars into the fixing points. If you own a car where there are no rails or fixing points, you will need to use a “door jamb” type of roof bar setup, which installs to each of the doors.
As installing roof bars to rails is the most popular method, the below guide uses rails to fit roof bars.
How To Fit Roof Bars
- Clean and remove any debris from the rails
- Loosely attach both roof bars to the rails.
- Distance the bars apart to the specified distance as stated in the instructions (shown in the photo below).
- Tighten the bars to the rails using the provided tool and wait for it to click (similar to a torque wrench).
- Connect the locks to the bars and test that they work with the key.
- Test the sturdiness of the roof bars with your hands.
As you can see from the above steps, fitting roof bars isn’t too difficult but there are certain aspects that require attention. For example, the tool that’s provided for tightening the roof bars has been calibrated to an exact torque setting. Therefore, you shouldn’t use your own set of Allen keys to tighten them because this can lead to damage if too tight.
Regardless of the brand of roof bars you choose to fit, most brands will provide a tool for tightening the bars. As shown in the photo below, Thule provides its own dedicated tool which clicks once it reaches 4 ft/lbs of torque.
Another great tip that we’d recommend is to use suitable grease to lube up all of the bolts. This helps when it comes to removing the roof bars from your car because they should move more freely.
What To Avoid
After you’ve successfully fitted your roof bars to your car, you will want to use them appropriately. Some examples of this include loading and positioning certain racks such as a roof-mounted bike rack correctly. Another factor to consider is to not overload the bars, which is common when people use a roof box and cram as much as they can into it.
Whether you need to fit Thule roof bars or another branded set to your car, they all follow the same fitting instructions and only include minor differences in terms of their installation. We highly recommend the Thule roof bars (that we use ourselves) due to their build quality. Hopefully the above steps allow you to easily fit your roof bars yourself and without any mishaps.