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Roof Rack or Trunk Rack: Which One Is Best for You?

Roof Rack

Trying to decide between a roof rack or a trunk rack when it comes time to haul a bike or two with your car, truck or SUV? There are so many choices out there that it can sometimes be confusing to pin down the one that’s right for you. Don’t worry because we’ve put together this quick guide that should have you confidently shopping for your next bike rack in no time.

Tall Roof or Short RoofRoof rack

When looking at a roof rack or trunk rack, it helps to understand how much space you’re working with on your vehicle. If you’ve got a tall-riding SUV or truck, consider the difficulty you’ll likely encounter when loading your bikes all the way up there, and then again when taking them down. A much lower sedan or hatchback won’t present the same problems and are better candidates for roof racks.

Another issue is height clearance. Consider how tall your roof is when entering your garage, parking structure or even on country roads with low-hanging trees crowding either side. You don’t want to scrape or slam your bike against something hard like concrete or a branch because it’s riding too high on your vehicle.

Built-In Mounts

Many cars are designed to accommodate a roof rack or trunk rack right from the factory, with mounting points included on the rain gutters of the roof or the trunk lid of the vehicle (although the latter is much more rare, it’s a feature of some two-seat roadsters). If these are in place, it’s considerably easier to mount the rack of your choice as you won’t have to worry about whether the roof or trunk is strong enough to carry the weight of the bikes.

Trailer Hitch Solution

If you don’t have any factory mounting points, but do have a trailer hitch, then consider using a bike rack that mounts directly on that hardware instead. The advantages are many: The hitch is already attached to a strong part of your car’s chassis, it’s quick and easy to remove should you need access to the trunk (more so than some other types of trunk rack designs) and you won’t have as many issues with clearance or fuel efficiency related to a tall and unwieldy roof rack design.

When choosing between a roof rack or trunk rack consider the advantages and disadvantages of each, and simply make your decision based on what best fits your needs.

Check out all the body & accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the roof rack or trunk rack question, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.


Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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