How Hard Is It To Install a Roof Rack?
If you have ever planned a major road trip, a cross country move, or find yourself suddenly heading outdoors more, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how hard (or expensive) it will be to install a roof rack. The short answer to this question is that it isn’t hard at all.
The slightly longer answer is that with the right product, a little elbow grease, or the right installation professional on your side, roof rack installation is a simple project that will give you serious long-term results. For the in-depth answer, keep reading to get a sense of what your options are, and how to get started.
What Equipment Is Already Installed On Your Vehicle?
The easiest way to tell if it will be hard to install your roof rack is by looking at what your vehicle came with from the dealer. Depending on the make and model, you may have a vehicle with a bare roof, pre-installed rails, or a full-on factory rack. What your vehicle already has installed will make a big difference in how you approach installing your new roof rack, and how difficult a process it will be.
If your car, truck, or SUV has a completely bare roof, with no rails or rack pre-installed at the factory, you’ve got a clean slate to worth with. That means you’ll need to decide if you want a permanent, bolted-on setup, or clamp-on rails and/or a rack system that sit securely on the vehicle, but can be removed when necessary.
Deciding What Type of Roof Rack to Install
Once you determine what you’re already working with, you can start shopping for your new roof rack, rails, and other accessories. Rails are, generally speaking, what connect to secure points on your car and give you something to anchor to. Cross bars are what help rails more evenly distribute the weight across the body of your car, protecting the roof and other areas from being dented or crumpled.
There are also different types of rails and crossbars to choose from, too. Two major variants are through bars and flush bars. The former doesn’t have quite as “clean” a look as the later, but through bars do give you more surface area to grip to and more flexibility when it comes to the types of aftermarket products you can attach after your roof rack installation. Flush bars, on the other hand, sacrifice some of the surface area in order to line up with your rails, giving more of a custom look.
It’s important to remember that not all rails and crossbars are created equal. Even factory-installed bars can vary greatly depending on the make and model of the car and what its designers imagined most drivers might use that vehicle for. Some rails, for example, are just for show, or are designed for light occasional loads, rather than routine heavy-duty use.
Others might be fine for, say, a cargo box, but aren’t long enough to accommodate something like a kayak or paddle board. Always double check the weight and capacity ratings of all the equipment in play, and make sure it’s compatible with the loads you plan on toting. Once you’ve determined what you’re already working with, you can pick the pieces of equipment you’ll need to get your vehicle ready for its new load.
The INNO XS150, for example, is a type of through-bar designed for vehicles with raised side rails. The INNO XS250 through-bar works with smooth roof vehicles without rain gutters, while the INNO XS350 is meant to pair with vehicles that came with pre-installed factory track systems and fixed points. Last but not least, if you have flush mount rails, the INNO XS450 is your go-to bar for roof rack installation.
As for flush bars, the INNO XS100 is designed for cars with raised side rails, while the INNO XS201 is intended for smooth roof vehicles without rain gutters. The INNO XS300 is a flush bar with factory track systems and fixed points. The INNO XS400 is compatible with vehicles that have flush mount rails.
Roof Rack Installation As Easy as 1, 2, 3Once you’ve done the research, the easy part is the roof rack installation. INNO racks, for example, don’t require a hefty toolkit or any especial mechanical know-how. Some like the XS100 simply snap the through-bars and rails together using pre-installed connectors that are part of the design. Others like the XS450 require just a torque wrench (included) and some additional TR Fit Hooks (sold separately). The XS300 Aero Base Stays for Fixed Points attaches using an included bolt, but doesn’t require any special tools.
Once you’ve secured your specific rails, bar and other roof rack installation pieces, grab hold and firmly shake your rack to make sure all piece stay in place. A good roof rack will let you adjust the level of torque holding the components together, allowing you to create more or less tension depending on your setup, the amount of weight on the rack, wind resistance from your vehicle profile, etc. If there’s any wobble or shifting, simply increase the torque at the connection points according to installation manual instructions to see if it resolves the issue.
As always, you can leave your new INNO roof rack installation to the professionals. Just because it’s easy enough to do yourself doesn’t mean you’re obligated to. There are plenty of roof rack detailers and auto body shops that are familiar with INNO roof rack installation processes, and those of other roof rack brands, too. They can easily help you assess what type of rails, cross bars, or other rooftop accessories would work best with your vehicle and take care of the installation, too.