What are roof rails and what are they for in a car?

Car rails: what are they and what are they for

Often modern cars do not have a large luggage compartment or its size is not enough in certain situations. In this case, rails come to the rescue, mounted on the roof and serving as additional luggage for transportation of large items, as well as a place to install closed boxes.

What are rails on a car

Physically, the rails are arcs of a certain diameter and length, which are mounted on the roof of the car. They may come factory installed for the following body types:

For other body types, certain locations are provided for mounting transverse or longitudinal rails. Most often these are technological holes in the roof for the original element, which are closed with plastic plugs. In this case, the driver must buy the car rails separately and mount them himself.

VAZ cars until 2012 are not equipped with standard rails, installation of fasteners for luggage rails is done independently. Drivers need to drill the metal to put the trunk.

What they are needed for

Roof rails on the roof of the car play the role of a supporting element, on which the additional luggage rack is installed. The latter can act as:

  • frame construction made of longitudinal or transverse plates of the open type;
  • closed autobox,
  • roof rack in the form of a loading platform;
  • special cross bars for bicycles;
  • open basket.

If you install integrated rails, you can pack the necessary things for transportation without installing crossbars, for example, when transporting construction materials or bulky items.

photo 2

Types of Roof Rails

Roof rails are classified:

  • by material of manufacture;
  • the constructional design;
  • the type of installation.

Steel, plastic and fiberglass are used for the production of roof rails. Steel constructions are installed for transportation of heavy loads. They provide stiffness and reliability of transportation. Universal types of rails are mounted on any car that fits the dimensions.

Model designs are designed for installation on a specific car brand, often under a certain year of manufacture. For example, the Nissan X-Trail after 2015 is equipped with standard model rails with an additional headlight, which are not suitable for installation on other models of this class.

How to paint a car with liquid rubber

Plastic elements are complete with crossbars. The peculiarity of this type of rack is that it is easy to remove. Plastic arcs are installed under the closed car boxes, the design of the trunk allows you to evenly distribute the weight of the luggage.

Constructional design

Before installing the rails, determine the diameter, length and design of the structure. According to the type of arcs are divided into:

  • rectangular;
  • aerodynamic.

Rectangular railing is a metal or steel profile, covered with a plastic cover. Rectangular profile has a simple design, it is easy to remove, it is mounted on bolts or special fasteners.

photo 3

The disadvantage of the standard arc is that the trunk makes noise at speeds above 80 km/h, and there is an overspending of fuel due to poor aerodynamic performance.

Aerodynamic integrated roof rails are made of anodized aluminium and weigh up to 3 kg. They do not create additional aerodynamic drag and do not create noise at speeds above 80 km/h. Mounting of the construction is on the fixing bushings.

Classification by installation method

The installation of the rails depends on the specific model of the trunk. The most common classification into:

  • longitudinal;
  • cross bars.

Longitudinal rails are installed on the roof in the gutter area. Cross bars are attached to the rails. What are these rails for? They are used for transportation of large-size, non-standard cargoes. Rails are fastened to the longitudinal rails through the locking fasteners. Depending on the size of the roof and the transportation option, you can remove the middle bar or install an additional one, selecting the desired distance between the crossbars.

Transverse structures are two- and three-post arches that are mounted across the roof. Four cross bars or longitudinal integrated roof rails are available for station wagons and liftbacks.

Integrated roof rails are an arc that leaves no space between the roof and the element once installed. Rails are more often installed at the factory, they are only a model version and are not intended for reinstallation on other car brands.

How to open the hood, if the cable is broken

The trunk is designed to be installed on a flat roof. The kit includes an integrated lock or fastener, which is mounted in the doorway.

Features of installation

The installation of the rails can be carried out:

  • in the regular places on the roof of the car;
  • in the door opening after preparing the car body.

Integrated rails are installed only in the regular places. Original rails have special stops that are installed in the holes on the roof. The original rails come with adapters that are designed for the specific model.

photo 4

If a vehicle model does not have room for the original roof rails, drivers either use bar kits for installation on the doorway or drill technological holes in the roof for mounting.

Roof rails for flat roof have large area of supporting arcs. During installation it is necessary to carry out anti-corrosion treatment, as in the places where the bolts enter the metal of the body can begin the process of corrosion.

Important points

Installation of the additional trunk can be carried out by yourself, with a minimum of tools. Important features of installation:

  1. The plugs of the regular holes for the trunk to remove according to the marks on the part.
  2. Clean, degrease and treat the mounting place under the railing with silicone sealant. This will prevent corrosion and moisture penetration under the metal of the roof.
  3. Install the desired rail type according to the instructions.

Tips for choosing roof rails for your car

When installing an extra roof rack on your roof, you need to consider the main requirements when choosing roof rails. Tips Before You Buy:

  1. Determine what type of railing, longitudinal or transverse, is provided by the manufacturer on the vehicle. SUVs and pickup trucks are available as both longitudinal and transverse, for other classes only longitudinal.
  2. If the factory does not provide a place for mounting the luggage rack, choose only transverse designs that are suitable in length.
  3. Take into account the load on the rail. Plastic rails can support up to 40 kg, aluminium up to 60 kg and steel up to 90 kg.
  4. When choosing universal types of rails that can be installed on cars of different classes, the size of the roof, the number of fasteners on the arc are taken into account. Manufacturers specify in the passport of the trunk the compatibility of the railing with a certain class of car.
How to lift a car for repairs without an elevator and a pit

Many drivers have already appreciated the convenience and usefulness of the rails. Quite often the trunk is not removed after use, rightly believing that the minimal weight and lack of aerodynamic loading does not affect the dynamics of the car and improves its appearance.

What are the rails on the car and what function do they perform?

There are fewer and fewer white spots of car design on the auto tips portal. But still they remain. Reillyards are on the line. What are they and why they are put on the roof? Let’s find out.

What are the rails on the car?

Statement of the question

Roof rails are an extension of the trunks of mostly Soviet cars. Roof luggage compartments were far from perfect and were not always efficient in terms of aerodynamics. The safety of the load was also a concern – it could fall completely unexpectedly.

The solution was built-in luggage racks. The influence on the dynamics of air flows was reduced and became practically zero. Changing the design allowed increasing the aesthetics of the vehicle without sacrificing functionality. Due to this, the rails became firmly lodged in the motorists’ lifestyle. They can be seen on hatchbacks and station wagons.

The device

Roof rails are welded arcs that are installed on the roof in specially made holes in it. Sometimes you can see models with parallel and transverse arcs. They strengthen the construction and load-bearing capacity of the element.

Advantages and disadvantages

Roof rails perfectly solve the issue of transporting suitcases, tourist equipment, fishing equipment and much more. They are better than trailers, as they do not reduce the maneuverability of the car. The driver, who will be stopped on the road by a traffic cop for not working lights, will not have a question where the trailer is with his wife and four children. Importantly, the rails are cheaper than a trailer and do not require special license plates.

What is better to build a car in a private house: a carport or a garage

Roof rails securely hold bicycles, strollers and other loads. If desired, the driver has the ability to install baskets on them. Additionally, it can be strengthened with an aerobox – a protective cover from precipitation and road dust. They are easy to mount and dismount depending on the need. Also, they are not a hindrance to install additional equipment.

Railings fix a bicycle

The elements are not without disadvantages. The risk of damaging the load by tipping the vehicle is much higher. Keeping an eye on the safety of dangling equipment is also not so easy. It is also necessary to tighten the fasteners in time.

Like any auto part, rails are classified according to a number of attributes. First place is compatibility. There are only two options here – universal and model. The first can be adjusted independently to the peculiarities of the car. The second type fits a specific model. Each manufacturer has its own standards, so a Mercedes railing is not suitable for Audi and vice versa.

According to the structure of the grille, they are divided into transverse and longitudinal. According to the material of manufacture – plastic, steel and combined. It is better to purchase steel ones due to their durability or combined ones. And plastic products are subject to rapid wear and tear due to atmospheric changes.

How to install the rails

It is best to entrust the installation of the structure to specialists at the service station. The main advantages – the experience excludes the possibility of errors and deterioration of the car performance. Employees of car service stations are responsible for the quality of the work done.

Roof rails on a car

If there is no possibility to go to the car service center, you can install them yourself. It is important to follow all the safety rules when working. Inspect the roof of the vehicle for special holes for the trunk. Or look at the owner’s manual to find them on the diagram. Often manufacturers cover them with plugs, which you just have to pull away in the direction of the arrow-indicator on them. After that, the edges of the holes should be degreased and treated with sealant. Next, the procedure is as follows.

  • to carry out pre-installation preparation of the roof – cleaning from dust, dirt with degreasing.
  • removal of the vehicle’s headliner;
  • drilling holes in the vehicle roof.
  • installation of the rails themselves.
What are the differences between antifreeze G11 and G12, and is it possible to mix them?

To protect the body and the surrounding area from hot chips, glue the car with painter’s tape, and lay a construction film on the floor.

Secrets of Proper Operation

Observance of the following rules is the key to successful operation during the period of time announced by the manufacturer.

  1. Wait 24 hours after installation before driving out with the load on the railing for the first time.
  2. Do not exceed the stated load capacity of the roof rack.
  3. Distribute the load evenly over the entire surface. Don’t forget about securing the load.

Rails for Cargo Transportation

If you encounter difficulties, there are two types of solutions to the problem. The first is to carefully reread the instructions from the manufacturer. The second – do not try to do everything yourself, and trust a qualified expert.


Soviet know-how – roof racks – have caught on and are still popular today. A wide range and ease of use make roof rails indispensable in many areas. The main thing when transporting luggage do not be reckless, otherwise it’s easy to become a star of the World Wide Web. The only exception is on December 31, somewhere in the Italian streets…

( No ratings yet )
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: