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Can you go through a car wash with roof rack?

Can You Go Through A Car Wash With Roof Rack?

Roof Racks are very helpful for people who want extra storage or haulage capacities for their car. A roof rack is made up of bars, cross bars, and attaching towers. Furthermore, there are several uses for roof racks and they are great additions to vehicle and vehicle users.

However, going to the car wash with roof racks is not always advisable, but if you must do that, ensure to keep the following in mind;

bikes attached to the roof of the car. Travelling with bikes by car.

It’s mostly suitable for small and medium-sized cars to go to the car wash with roof racks.

Ensure that the car wash company permits cars with roof racks into the car wash.

If the car wash company permits cars with roof racks, make inquiries about the car wash company’s height limit and ensure that the total height of the car and the roof racks does not exceed their height limit.

When you go through a car wash with your roof racks, part of the car wash can hook on your rack, which can cause damage to the rack, the car wash, and the vehicle. 

It’s safer to clean your racks by hand washing with mild detergent. Your detergent must be immune to solvent as that could cause damage to your rack.

Some Pros And Cons Of Going Through A Car Wash With Roof Racks.


There are certainly no known advantages of going through a car wash with roof racks. However, there are alternative approaches to how you can go through a car wash with roof racks. Let’s start by talking about the types of car wash;

Automatic Wash

This type of car wash is considered dangerous for vehicles with roof racks. In this scenario, your car is pulled through a tunnel and washed using a big black brush, soap, and water. While at it, brush fibers usually get caught and pulled by the corners and cavities of the roof racks which could lead to rust and damage.

Brushless Wash

This is a better option when compared to the automatic wash. Here, huge clothing strips are utilized with soap and water for the car wash which is still very harsh and could cause damage to the vehicle and roof racks.

Touchless Wash

This is the process whereby washing chemicals are sprayed onto the car with high pressure. It is always recommended to ensure that everyone in your car including the roof racks is completely dried after the wash.

Hand Wash

This option is certainly the best car wash option for vehicles with roof racks. The only disadvantage of hand washing is that it takes extra time and energy as the process requires careful attention.


  • Car wash equipment is developed for vehicles without racks. This means that the car wash brush can get stuck in the roof rack thereby causing damage to both the racks and the brush.
  • When water and residues get glued within the roof rack and its components, this can eventually lead to damage to your car paints.
  • When water gets trapped under the racks as a result of not properly drying the roof racks, this can lead to rusting of that part of your vehicle.
  • Loosening the roof racks to wash the top and in the end, not properly fixing it back can pose a potential threat to other vehicles on the road.
  • In general, it is best for vehicles with roof racks to go for self-service car washing or hand washing. This is a method of using your hands to manually wash your vehicles and roof racks. With this method, your vehicles and rod racks will be consciously taken care of while washing to avoid damage.

Best Ways To Clean Cars With Roof Racks

Always Unscrew And Detach The Roof Racks

This process will help your roof stay clean and doesn’t trap any water or residues on the roof racks.

Manually Wash And Clean Your Car Always

It’s safer and better to wash your car manually while the roof rack is loosened using mild soap and water or a clean rag. This will prevent rust and scratches on your vehicle.

Attach Car Roof Racks Only When It Is Completely Dry

Make sure to attach the car roof racks only when it is completely dried up before reattaching them to the roof. This will help prevent rusting of the racks and the roof.

Apply Lubricants

With time, roof racks can loosen and become rusty. This can be caused by vibrations from the car. To avoid such occurrences, ensure to lubricate the boots often and always check to tighten the knobs, locks, and washers.

Wear and tear

The roof racks and roof accessories should be frequently inspected for any cases of wear and tear. Ensure to use only spare parts or accessories gotten from the manufacturers to replace any that have become corroded.  Also, inspections should be carried out on the straps to check if they have become ragged or if the buckles are loosened. Ensure to replace them to keep safe.


In conclusion, here is a general tip on how to maintain roof racks without going through a car wash.

. Completely detach the rack. 

. Check for debris under the pads. 

. Brush down all dirt. 

. Look out for dents, rust, and cracks on the crossbars.

. Look out for moisture that may have circulated into the crossbars and dry them out. 

. Fix any damage and replace the unfixable.

. Lock off the ends of the crossbar. 

. Always apply grease and lube on the clamps or hardware.

. Ensure that the vehicle and the racks are completely dried before attaching the racks. 

. Study and keep the manual handy for reference purposes in case you forget any detail. It’s always important to read through installation and maintenance paperwork when purchasing a roof rack. This will help us understand the best possible ways of maintaining the racks to avoid damage.