Like most car owners, you probably use your vehicle to transport items, not just people, from one place to another.
Whether you’re going on a road trip and need to bring your luggage and hobby gear along, or you have a lot of stuff to take home from the store, a roof rack can be a lifesaver.
Unfortunately, roof racks can be expensive, especially if you need one specifically designed for your car.
So why are roof racks so expensive? Let’s look at some of the factors contributing to this cost.
What Is A Roof Rack Used For?
A roof rack is a device attached to a car’s roof (or SUV, crossover) and is used to carry items. Roof racks are a super-easy way to maximize your vehicle’s carrying capacity.
The most common use for a roof rack is to transport luggage, such as suitcases, backpacks, or camping gear. However, roof racks can also transport other large items, such as kayaks, bicycles, skis, and snowboards.
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How Much Do Roof Racks Cost?
Roof racks can range from as low as $30 to as high as $900, depending on materials, styles, brands, and add-on features.
5 Reasons Why Roof Racks Are Expensive
There could be a lot of reasons why roof racks are so expensive. But after doing some research, we found five primary reasons:
Reason #1: Able To Handle High Load Capacity
One of the main reasons roof racks are so expensive is because they must be able to hold up to the weight of heavy items like luggage, cargo box, camping gear, bikes, kayaks, etc.
Many roof racks in the market are designed to carry up to 75 kg (165 lbs). For instance, an oversized cargo box like the Thule Motion XT-XXL Rooftop Cargo Carrier weighs about 55 lbs. That’s quite heavy for a cargo box.
As for kayaks, a typical kayak will weigh between 20 and 80 pounds (9 to 36 kg). Although this might not seem like a lot when going camping and fishing in them, the weight of all that gear adds up quickly.
Reason #2: High-Quality Materials Used
Another reason why roof racks are expensive is that they are often made of high-quality and heavy-duty materials. For example, aluminum is the common material used in roof racks and is known for being very strong and durable.
The material is rigorously tested during manufacturing to withstand hundreds of pounds of force without bending or deforming.
It also lasts more than 10 years and doesn’t get rusted when exposed to outside weather, which increases the cost of a roof rack.
Reason #3: Must Be Aerodynamic
Another reason why roof racks are so expensive is that they need to be aerodynamic. Since the racks stick out from the car, they can create drag and wind resistance, which reduces fuel efficiency.
What makes the difference between a cheap roof rack and an expensive roof rack is how streamlined the design is.
Cheaper racks are often bulkier and less aerodynamic, creating more wind resistance and drag. This can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency.
Additionally, to ensure that the rack is quiet, it has to be designed so that it doesn’t make loud, annoying noises as air moves over and around its components.
To combat this, manufacturers must ensure that their racks are as aerodynamic as possible, which drives up the cost.
Reason #4: Must Be Safe To Use
Are car top carriers safe? Yes, they are.
Many top roof rack manufacturers like Thule and Yakima have their R&D to test and ensure their product is safe to use for users – that is us.
The roof racks have been rigorously tested to survive numerous crash tests, wear and tear simulations, extreme heat, cold, dampness, sunlight, and even harsh chemicals. 
All of this testing and development drives up the cost of the roof rack. But it is important to have peace of mind that your gear will be safe when driving cross country.
Reason #5: Practical And Easy To Use
Roof racks are practical, versatile, and easy to use, specifically those with crossbars. This type of roof rack provides the base with which you can mount any number of things to the top of your vehicle like:
- Roof boxes – Extra space for all your gear
- Bike racks – Bring bikes of any kind – mount the bike rack quickly and easily
- Water Sport Racks – Mount racks for kayaks, surfboards, and SUP boards.
- Winter Sport Racks – Skis and snowboards – get ready for action in minutes.
In addition, roof racks must be universal so they can be mounted on any car, SUV, or crossover. Some roof racks have a built-in locking system on roof crossbars to prevent them from being stolen.
Roof racks are an innovative and creative way to carry extra items in the car. To achieve these goals, manufacturers have come up with thoughtful designs that can benefit users by providing them flexibility in terms of what they want and do.
Are Roof Racks A Good Investment?
One of the first questions that come to mind when considering purchasing a roof rack is whether or not it’s actually worth the investment. After all, these racks can be quite expensive.
The roof rack is an invaluable addition to any vehicle. If you often need extra storage for road trips, it might seem like a bit of an investment initially, but the long-term value quickly makes up for this expense.
Don’t Use A Cheap Roof Rack!
You may be tempted to choose the cheapest option, but this could cost you more in the long run. A quality roof rack will last much longer and perform better than a cheap one.
One more thing, the expensive roof racks are quiet when you haven’t got anything on them. The cheap ones, quite apart from fit, quality, and durability issues, are noisy, so you have to take them off when you aren’t using them or be driven mad.
If you’re ready to purchase your first roof rack, come and check out all our cargo carrier reviews, where we examine the best type of roof rack to suit your vehicle.
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