SECURING YOUR ROOFTOP LOAD
ROOF RACKS ARE A GREAT WAY to carry extra gear on your weekend adventures. However, when it comes to carrying your recreation equipment and luggage, or any loads for that matter, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way can lead to damage to your vehicle, unnecessary fuel consumption, and can create unsafe conditions for yourself, your passengers and others on the road.
You are legally responsible for your loads being safely secured, so follow the following tips to ensure a drama free adventure.
• Overhang. Avoid too much unnecessary overhang at the front of your vehicle as the wind can rip the roof racks right off your vehicle.
• Check load. Always check your load at regular intervals, pushing and pulling on the load in every direction to ensure it is snug and has not loosened during the drive.
• 3 points. As a general rule, your roof top loads should have 3-4 tie down points on the vehicle to avoid shifting.
• Adjust speed. Loading your roof top with weight changes the dynamics of your vehicle so adjust your speed to avoid “lift”, to counter the new higher centre of gravity, and to ensure your vehicle will stop in time when braking.
• Clearances. Take note of overhead clearances, (like in underground parking garages). It is surprisingly easy to forget, and miscalculating will result in a bitter end to your weekend adventure. One idea is to put a post-it on your window screen with an arrow pointing up.
• No Bumper. Avoid attaching the loads to your bumper, it can rip it right off!
• Weight limits. Make sure your roof top load isn’t too heavy, your vehicle and roof racks will have a maximum carrying weight, which is always determined by the vehicle manufacturer.
• Use Straps. Tie Down straps are best, bungee cords are a no go as they allow shift. Ratchet or rapid locking straps are a variation of tie down straps and are easy to use and allow you to create tension easily.
• Flag. If there is an overhang at the rear of the vehicle, then attach a red flag to the load to bring people’s attention to it to avoid accidents with vehicles and pedestrians.
• Special carriers. Special items, like recreation equipment, require special rack attachments e.g. kayak, bikes, and boats.
It’s easy to forget about some of the basics when you’re excited to hit the road. Double check this list and your next overland adventure won’t end early because of an overhead mis-adventure.