roof rack performance

How does a roof rack affect vehicle performance?

March 1, 2024

Fitting a roof rack, plus the accessories to the exterior of your vehicle inevitably alters its dimensions, shape, weight and height. You’re probably wondering, how will this affect the overall performance of your vehicle?

Aerodynamic Drag

One of the more obvious effects of installing a roof rack is the increase in aerodynamic drag. Whether the rack is empty or loaded, any protrusion from the vehicle’s streamlined shape creates additional wind resistance. The good news is that this drag can be mitigated by adding a wind deflector accessory, which helps redirect airflow and reduce the impact of drag on fuel efficiency and driving comfort.

Weight and Center of Gravity

While the roof rack itself might not significantly affect performance, its purpose is often to carry heavy loads like camping gear or work equipment. These added weights, coupled with increased wind resistance, can lead to decreased acceleration, compromised braking distances and reduced maneuverability. Moreover, the shift in the vehicle’s center of gravity due to the rooftop load further undermines stability and handling, particularly during sharp turns or emergency maneuvers. Always remember to take it slow!

Vehicle Height

The height added by cargos and loads mounted on roof racks presents practical challenges for drivers. Larger vehicles carrying bulky items may face challenges navigating through tunnels, bridges or low-clearance areas like car parks. Additionally, accessing services like car washes or garages may prove problematic without careful consideration of the vehicle’s increased height. Furthermore, the heightened profile contributes to increased aerodynamic drag, influencing fuel consumption and overall driving efficiency.

 Wind Noise

Roof racks can also introduce wind noise, particularly noticeable at higher speeds. The airflow around the rack generates a whistling sound, which can be distracting and irritating for occupants, especially during long journeys. Fortunately, solutions like a wind deflector can help minimise this noise and enhance driving comfort.


While roof racks offer valuable storage solutions for transporting gear and equipment, they also have an impact on vehicle performance. From increased aerodynamic drag to altered weight distribution and heightened vehicle profile, these factors collectively influence fuel efficiency, handling and driving comfort. Understanding the implications of installing a roof rack enables drivers to make informed decisions and implement strategies to mitigate any adverse effects on vehicle performance and overall driving experience.


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