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Do I Need Roof Rails For A Roof Rack?

Wondering whether you need Roof Rails for a Roof Rack? With the use of roof rails and roof racks, you can ideally convey your luggage, bicycles, and kayaks, to mention but a few that would seem not to fit into the vehicle. Roof racks and roof rails are quite similar. Their major difference is how they are placed on the car roof

Do I Need Roof Rails For A Roof Rack?

While roof rails are recognized as definitive units that are connected to the roof of a car. It’s important to note that as a unit, they are not standard for all vehicle types. The basic function of roof rails is the ability to be used as positioning areas for crossbars and other accessories like cargo boxes, ski racks, and cargo carriers. 

Roof racks and rails are mostly found on SUVs and MPVs. They are super easy to install or detach when needed.

Do I Need Roof Rails For A Roof Rack
Amazon Basics Universal Cross Rail Roof Rack – 52 inches (Pack of 2)

Usually, a car with a roof rail is relatively valuable to the driver, especially when it involves hauling extra items to the roof. It aids the means for efficiently connecting equipment to the roof and eradicating the conventional use of ropes to haul extra luggage and equipment. In addition, the presence of roof racks brings forth more flexibility and use. Hence the reason for people including families going on vacations, business owners, cyclists, adventurers, etc find roof racks and rails extremely valuable.

People commonly view roof racks and roof rails as the same, hence the common question about if they need roof rails on roof racks

In this article, we will provide you with the difference between roof rails and roof racks, and the different types of roof rails, and roof rack mounting which will help explain whether you need roof rails on roof racks.

Roof Rails vs. Roof Racks: Major Difference Between The Two

As we explained earlier, roof racks and roof rails have similar functions. However, we will be more focused on their fundamental distinction for this article. One of their major differences is the positioning on the car rooftop

Roof rails are identified as the bars that run the length of a car’s roof which are usually connected using feet or other mounts. While the roof racks are positioned across the roof.

Roof rails are mainly used as the specific points of attachment for crossbars, cargo boxes, cargo carriers, etc.

Roof Rack

By design, roof racks are usually more durable and are made to hold up larger loads. Roof racks usually require professional installation as this helps to select the best fit and efficient roof rack. For the given vehicle by these experts.

By design, roof rails are made to be installed for various car types which include SUVs, vans, sedans, etc. It has the potential of shipping sporting tools by fastening them to the roof of your vehicle. Roof rails are incredibly strong, tough to sketch, and have an additional ability to support steel or aluminum roof racks.

Roof racks are positioned east to west across the roof of the vehicle. Roof racks are designed to haul more cargo weight. Roof racks are more incredible for transporting huge cargo or tools like kayaks, skis, etc.

Roof racks are the best choice for those who desire a roof transportation alternative with a guarantee of ultimate cargo weight security and equilibrium.

Types Of Roof Rails

There are two major types of roof rails. They are;

The Flush Roof Rails

And the Elevated Roof Rails.

Flush Roof Rails

These types of roof rails are usually considered smooth and glossy in appearance. In terms of fuel economy, they are very efficient.

Elevated Roof Rails

By design, this type of roof rail is raised higher an inch or two further from the rooftop of the vehicle.

The use of roof racks attached to roof rails is usually recommended, especially for car owners intending to go on vacation or camping. With these roof racks, you don’t have to worry about your extra luggage or your car trunk not being enough for the. It accommodates things like boats, bikes, wet camping gear, etc.

Furthermore, it is imperative to note that some automobiles come with factory-installed rooftop racks, while some don’t. For cars with factory crossbars, there may not be a need for attaching roof racks, rather, you can go for roof carriers such as kayak carriers. This is because these carriers have a broad attachment means for fitting onto the crossbars.

Type Of Roof Rack Mounting

Depending on the rooftop type, that’s the type of rooftop design, roof racks are classified into four roof type areas. They are roof racks for raised rails, solid rails, fixed points, and naked roofs.

Raised Rails

For vehicles with raised rails, which are usually positioned by the sides of the vehicle roof, (usually with a gap between the roof and the rail), it is recommended to get a foot pack that hooks into the rails.

Solid Rails

For roof rails that run along the sides of the roof but without any gap between the car roof and the rail, they are referred to as flush or continuous rails. They are usually glossy in appearance. They have a specific type of roof mats that are specially designed to be used on them. Therefore, before attaching mats, ensure to check that it is meant for that type of roof rail.

Fix Points

Some vehicles have specified points designed for roof rack installation.  These points are usually decorated with moldable tabs, which makes them difficult to see sometimes.

Naked Roof

Here, you have to purchase a don’t pack and fit kits, which are usually designed to clench into the door jam.


In conclusion, it is understandable that people often ask this question because roof rails are designed as a feature of a car but their main function is to act as mounting points and not carriers. A roof rack is considered an ideal carrier that helps to stack vehicles and carry sturdy luggage ranging from sporting tools to camping gear, to mention but a few.

Roof rails are mostintly designed and installed at the production factory but are not made to be used on their own. However, Attaching roof racks to the rails makes them more valuable and highly efficient use. In simpler terms, you don’t need a roof rail for a roof rack but most times, you will need a roof rack for a roof rail.