If your vehicle doesn't come with a factory-installed roof rack, equipping your ride with an aftermarket one is a good idea especially if you're planning to use your ride to haul heavy and bulky equipment. But before you grab a rack from the store aisle, know first the different types of racks available depending on the type of vehicle roofs they're designed for:
As its name suggest, this rack type is designed for vehicles with a bare roof. It features special rubber-coated brackets made of metal and a uniquely engineered rubber base so it can fit vehicles with different roof contours. This rack is very easy to install because it doesn't require drilling; all you need are rack clips to secure it in place.
The rain gutter roof rack was hugely popular decades ago when there weren't too many options yet when it comes to rack types. This rack features a cross bar that requires add-on gutter foot packs and load bars. Usually found in passenger and cargo vans, this rack is usually available in three heights to suit various vehicle clearance requirements.
A half rail rack is installed on vehicles with only two rails that run parallel on each side of the roof. Because you'll still have to install cross bars for this type of rack, choose one that comes with all the necessary hardware.
A full rail type is one of the easiest to install because you basically have to bolt it on the vehicle's factory-installed rails and cross bars. If the rack doesn't fit securely onto the rail, you might have to purchase additional mounting hardware.
A recently new design that's usually sported by European vehicles, a flush rail type is designed to snugly flush against the roof. So basically, there's no gap between the vehicle's roof and the rail. To be able to attach cross bars into this rack, an almost-invisible groove is included in the design. This rack is easy to install and can be easily adjusted to accommodate various load sizes.
If your vehicle includes factory-installed fastening points that are typically located at the sides of the roof, you'll need a fixed point roof rack. This type has a sleek look since the connection points are installed beneath the roof trim. When the rack isn't in use, the fastening points are almost invisible. To install this rack, you'll need to drill holes and some customized fasteners.
Similar to a flush type, a track type uses parallel tracks that allows you to customize the position of the cross bars during installation. Designed to fit a variety of vehicle and camper shell roofs, a track rack requires drilling.
When choosing a roof rack type, make sure you also consider the wind noise generated and height clearance. Keep in mind that certain types produce wind noise when you're driving at high speeds because of the design. You'll also want a rack that won't get you in trouble when it comes to height clearance. So if you frequently drive on roads or park in spaces with low clearance requirements, opt for a removable roof rack.