Buying the correct car roof bars for your vehicle can be both difficult and confusing, therefore we hope this guide will be helpful in assisting you to arrive at the right decision. If you prefer to speak to someone, our friendly team here at The Journey Centre are always available to help you through the maze, and you can either contact us by telephone 01709 835600 or if you live locally just pop in to the store for guidance and advice.
Simply follow this guide which should help you to identify the safest and most suitable roof bar system for your particular type of vehicle, and the purpose you intend to use them for.
Firstly, it is important to establish what type of roof fixings you will need which is determined by the type of roof bar fixing your vehicle already has.
What is my car roof type?
Open/Raised Rail – The vehicle has similar side rails to the closed version which run from the front to the rear of the roof but will have a gap between the roof and the rail under which you can pass your fingers.
Closed/Flush Rail – Very similar to open rails, but without the gap between the rail and the car roof. These will be fixed to each side of the roof along its full length with a profiled shape.
Fixed Point – Your vehicle has no pre-fitted side rails, but may have removable, hinged or sliding tabs revealing a screw fixing hole or bracket. The fixing points will be on both sides of the roof near to the front and back.
Normal – The vehicle has neither rails or fixing points on the roof. Bars for this type of normal roof fit inside the door openings, with some vehicles having a locating hole just inside the door frame to accept the vehicle specific fitting kit. If your vehicle is a three-door version and there is insufficient space for the clamp to fit under the rear window edge, then it may require a special extension kit which is described in the application if required.
What will the bars be used to carry?
This will influence your choice and can be very dependent upon the accessories you intend carrying.
It is always advisable to purchase the same brand of accessories as your bars to be certain everything is compatible, due to the variances of shapes and fixings used by each manufacturer..
Should you already have cycle carriers etc. please ensure the brackets will fit the bars you intend to purchase, as the latest bar shapes are much more aerodynamic, cutting out wind noise and drag, and may be too wide to accept your existing items. There may however be conversion brackets available an additional cost, please check with us before ordering your bars.
Some bars, (usually the aluminium versions), have a slot running the full length in the top of the bar which is usually protected by a rubber insert strip. By removing this strip, it exposes a slotted channel (often referred to as a ‘C’ or ‘T’ track) which is designed to accept the fixings from many of the newer models of accessories you will be likely to add, making it easy to load and remove them.
As the slot can vary in width between different manufacturers bars and accessories, it is vital to check the dimensions of the bolts of your existing items to establish if they will fit the bars you intend to purchase.
Roof bars are fully tested for safe loading and should conform to TUV and/or ‘City Crash Testing’ standards. Safe loading is usually between 60kg and 100kg, but you should also check your vehicles handbook to confirm the individual cars maximum carrying capacity
Choosing Steel or Aluminium roof bars
Apart from the obvious appearance differences, your decision could be based on your budget, as the traditional, perhaps rather dated black steel bars are usually significantly lower in price than the much more modern aluminium versions.
However, the square black bars do have limitations when adding modern accessories, as they do not benefit from the slot in the top of the bars that most aluminium bars will have. This makes it easier to add your bike carrier etc. and makes full use of the width of the bar, which you will be unable to do with the standard black bar as the fixings fit underneath the bars and the foot can often obstruct the brackets.
Where the aluminium bars are supplied with a slot system (‘T’ track) this also enables the addition of more accessories when required (e.g. a roof box plus two bike carriers).
Apart from their improved appearance the aluminium bars are also much lighter and often stronger than the black steel bars and are certainly significantly quieter. They can also be left on the car without creating drag or increasing fuel consumption.
How easy are roof bars to fit?
Most manufacturers provide good clear instructions and there are many ‘YouTube’ videos to assist you. Our help line is available during working hours should have any difficulties 01709 835600. We also offer a full assembly and fitting service to personal visitors if you are doubtful of your own skills to complete the task.
Are roof bars lockable?
Where the manufacturer offers a locking facility, this protects your bars from theft but please check before you buy as some of the budget ranges do not have locks included. We also offer the Thule ‘One Key System’ FREE of charge with the Thule ranges which makes life so much easier than contending with numerous different key numbers. Also note any locks are only a deterrent and are not to be viewed as infallible to the determined thief, therefore ensure you always park your vehicle safely when you are carrying additional accessories.
Which brand of roof bars should I choose?
Without doubt, Thule are justifiably the market leader with their massive quality range, starting with the entry level standard black square bars and rising to the ‘Wing Bar Edge’ systems, along with a vast range of compatible accessories, e.g. carriers for bikes, water, ski, and roof boxes to suit.
Thule systems are supplied in separate component parts with the appropriate fitting kit being vehicle specific, this ensures a perfect solution and fit for each car, which has the added benefit of being able to re-use some of the system when you change your vehicle for a different model.
Here at The Journey Centre we are also proud to have been awarded Thule’s DEALER of THE YEAR! having been chosen from their network of stockists nationwide. We have been a ‘Partner Dealer’ for over 30 years and all our competent staff are here to help you make an informed decision and we are always happy to help should you need to talk to someone about your purchase.
Should your budget not stretch to the Thule premium brand we also offer a vast range of value bars which are ideal for the occasional use and are all tested to the same vigorous standards.
Use the roof bar selectors
Just click on either the Thule or the Value Range of Car Roof Bars and simply follow the menu and filters to make your selection Click Here or, just give us a call on 01709 835600