Before heading out for a trip, whether going on a vacation to a new city or traveling to a camping site, you should always pack the necessary supplies and belongings. You never want to leave anything crucial behind, but you also don’t want to overburden yourself and your vehicle. One of the most significant aspects of this packing process is knowing how to distribute weight on your roof rack to avoid complications or potential hazards.
It’s not as easy as stacking your belongings and tying them down; there are certain precautions you must consider before you even pack your bags. Know what these are and prevent unnecessary damage to your possessions and vehicle. This way, you can maintain your safety on the road.
Know Your Roof Rack’s Weight Limit
The first step to ensuring proper weight distribution is to become aware of your roof rack’s weight limit. It’s easy for many people to assume that whatever they bring will come under the rack’s limit, but this can be a dangerous assumption to make. Different racks have different limits, and a rack’s weight limit can vary by ten pounds or sometimes by a hundred pounds or more.
Knowing your rack’s specific limitations will be necessary for you to make an informed decision regarding how much luggage you intend to bring. Disregarding your rack’s limit will only expose you to potential danger later in your trip, as your roof rack may fail while driving.
This can immediately impact your car’s handling, as the weight distribution will change instantly, momentarily affecting how your vehicle drives. This sudden change and lack of control can lead to dangerous situations, including swerving into other cars or colliding with other objects.
Plan Out Your Item Placement
After determining your rack’s weight limit, you need to start strategizing how you plan to place all your items. Different items will have different weights, densities, shapes, and sizes. All these aspects affect how you stack them and how stable your roof rack will be.
It’s common knowledge that the heaviest and densest items go on the bottom with the lighter objects on the top. This not only prevents lighter items from becoming crushed but keeps the center of gravity closer to the car. The top-heavier you make your roof rack, the greater the chance of creating a hazard of tipping for your vehicle.
Have the Best Tools To Keep Everything Secure
When you tie everything down to your roof rack, it’s important to know how stable the entire installation is. It’s easy to forget that it’s capable of sudden failure without any forewarning. We often take for granted that it will work without issue.
This idea is like knowing your rack’s weight limit. You need to know how durable the materials and components are. Will they stand up to some punishment or fall apart when subjected to harsher weather conditions? Be sure to have adequate brackets for your roof racks. You need to trust that your parts will prevent any unexpected failures. The best ones will allow your rack to remain sturdy and provide far greater strength than the standard components.
Leave No Room for Shifting
Distributing weight is essential, as you don’t want one side weighing more than the other. But you also need to ensure that remains the case throughout the entire trip. When your vehicle is in motion, things naturally shift around, whether your car moves forward or backward or takes sharp turns. When it comes to your roof rack, you need to guarantee that you tie everything down securely and that there’s no wiggle room for your belongings to move around.
If you neglect this, you can start your trip with the ideal weight distribution, but that’ll quickly change. Without realizing it, your car’s center of gravity can shift along with the weight. This can lead to hazardous situations where your vehicle doesn’t handle the way you expect. Be cognizant of any changes in your car’s handling while driving. They may be signs that some weight has shifted and is affecting your vehicle.
Eliminate Any Overhanging Material
When stacking your belongings on your roof rack, you must keep everything in line with your vehicle. You don’t want anything hanging over the sides, especially on the left- and right-hand sides. Sometimes, this is unavoidable when you have something long. You may have to let it hang over the front and back end of the car.
The danger arises when you start letting your items hang off of the sides, as this can pose a striking hazard to other cars on the road, street signs, or trees. You also run into a balancing problem if one side hangs over the edge and the other doesn’t. This can significantly increase the chances of your vehicle tipping. Whenever you can, you must try to avoid any type of overhanging to achieve proper weight distribution, especially with items hanging off the sides.
Give Your Roof Rack a Test Run
After learning how to distribute weight on your roof rack, be sure to test everything out before you start a long trip. See how well you’ve distributed the weight, stacked your items, and tied everything down to ensure a tight and secure fit. Take your car for a ride around the neighborhood, making sure to hit some bumps along the way to test out your rack’s stability. The trip won’t always be smooth, even on roads. So you need to stress test your rack before going on a real drive.
After some time testing your rack, inspect the items to see if there are any significant signs of shifting. If there are, you’ll have to identify where the problem is, whether it’s with the stacking itself or the tying. Once you’re confident with your testing and have made the necessary changes to your stacking or tying technique, you can rely on your rack to do the rest and protect your equipment during transit. You always want to measure twice and cut once. If you don’t take the necessary steps beforehand, you can endanger yourself, ruin your belongings, and put other motorists in danger.