We're an affiliate!
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page with no extra costs to you. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
You spent the time researching for a the perfect roof rack for your car. And you think you’ve found the right one but you have something nagging you in the back of your mind.
Do roof racks fit all cars?
Roof racks will fit on 98% of cars.
So, does your car fall into the 2%? Most likely it doesn’t.
If your car has rain gutters then you will need a special roof rack. But, most cars nowadays don’t have rain gutters so you won’t need to worry about it.
Continue reading this guide to make sure you are making the decision before you buy your roof rack.
Table of Contents
What Makes Up A Roof Rack?
Understanding what a roof rack even is will help you make the right decision when choosing one.
A roof rack is made up of 3 main elements: the mount, the feet, and the crossbars. The mount attaches to the roof of the car. Some cars have built-in elements that act as a mount.
So, a mount is not always necessary. It depends on what kind of car you’re working with.
The feet of the roof rack attach to the mount (or in some cases, to the roof of the car).
The crossbars go across the roof of the car, from driver’s side to passenger’s side, and attach to the feet.
So, the mount (required for some cars, but not all) attaches to the roof of the car. The feet attach to the mount. And the crossbars attach to the feet. That’s a roof rack!
Pretty simple, right?
What Type Of Roof Rack Will Fit My Car?
With a better understanding of what a roof rack is made of, you’re still left to wonder, “What type of roof rack will fit my car?”
Most roof racks fit most cars. The feet and crossbars that make up a roof rack are virtually universal. But, it’s important to have a car-specific mount!
There are roof racks sold for a car make/model that will have the appropriate mount for that car in place. The other option is to buy a generic roof rack and a car specific mount.
The easiest way to go about finding the right mount is to buy a fit-kit from whatever company the roof rack is from.
Thule offers fit-kits to ensure each roof rack they sell will fit every car. Just get the appropriate fit-kit (that has the proper mounts if necessary) and voila! Ready for adventures!
For cars with built-in mounts, like the Honda Element, there’s no need for fit-kits. These cars are designed with the intention of holding a roof rack!
The roof rack feet can attach directly onto the built-in mounts. Then, the crossbars can attach to the feet. And it’s ready to roll!
Another way you can make sure a roof rack will fit is by buying it from a car dealer or other professional.
Let’s say I drive a Toyota. If I buy a roof rack from Toyota, they can help me choose the roof rack and ensure I have the right mount or fit-kit!
Other companies, like AutoZone and even Walmart, sell roof racks. Store employees are usually willing to help customers.
They can select the appropriate roof rack and/or accompanying fit-kit for a customer’s car.
Will I need Any Special Tools To Set Up My New Roof Rack?
Some roof racks need basic tools to install. Usually, the tools are as simple as a bolt, screwdriver, or wrench.
Most of the time, tools are included with the roof rack if you buy it new. The Rhino Rack 2500 Aero 2 Bar Roof Rack, for example, requires a specialty allen wrench.
You can learn more about this roof rack on Amazon by clicking here.
They include the wrench in the purchase, so you don’t have to worry about it.
So, to answer the question, yes. Sometimes a specialty tool is needed to set up a new roof rack.
Do you have to worry about supplying the tool? No. Any required tools should come with the kit or be on hand in most homes.
There is a possibility that you need to buy a roof rack that requires a screwdriver.
Would I call that a “specialty” tool? No. But, that’s about as special as you will need to have on hand.
What’s The Best Way To Mount My Roof Rack?
A roof rack can easily be mounted and installed at home.
The best way to mount a roof rack is by following the instructions provided with it! I know it sounds simple. But, basic instructions are often overlooked.
Some companies, like Toyota, even have educational YouTube videos on installation for their specific products.
Some companies do the dirty work and install the roof rack if requested. Usually, this comes with a price tag.
There are certain instances when it’s best to have a professional mount and install the roof rack.
Permanent roof rack setups, or permanent mounts, should be installed professionally. Avoid installing permanent fixtures at home for the best outcome.
What Is The Best Style Of Roof Rack Bars?
Roof rack bars, or crossbars, come in a variety of styles.
Yakima, for example, offers 4 different styles of crossbars.
Thule offers even more variety. The many other brands of roof racks offer their styles as well.
Many of the crossbars look and perform similarly. Some have minuscule differences, like variants of color, slightly different shapes, etc.
So, what is the best style of roof rack bars?
Frankly, it depends.
Each style of crossbars has pros and cons. Some are louder but offer a higher weight capacity. Others reduce drag. Some are chosen for cosmetic purposes. It depends on what you find valuable!
I have an entire guide about how to reduce roof rack noise that can read by clicking here.
Do Roof Racks Fit All Cars?: The Conclusion
Roof racks are a great way to transport bikes, kayaks, surfboards and many other things that could take up space in your car.
Unless you are driving a car from the 1970s you should have no problem fitting a roof rack to your car.
Set up is easy and normally doesn’t require any special tools. But if they are needed then the manufacturer will include them.
With the help of youtube and the instructions, you should have no trouble with the installation process.
Safe travels to you and your cargo!