All About Roof Racks for Jeeps

We highly recommend having a roof rack for your Jeep. Roof racks allow you to carry almost any type of cargo or gear that you don’t want to store inside of your Jeep.  It would allow you to haul big things like boats or bikes or dirty things like wet camping or swim gear.

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On this page, we’ll cover things like:

  1. What are roof racks and why should it matter to a Jeep owner?
  2. Do you need a roof rack for your Jeep?
  3. What are some of the best Jeep roof rack manufacturers out there?
  4. How many different types of roof racks can fit a Jeep?
  5. How much do roof racks for Jeeps cost?
  6. How do you choose the best roof rack for your Jeep?
  7. What material are Jeep roof racks made out of?
  8. What components make a Jeep roof rack?
  9. What can you store on a Jeep’s roof rack?
  10. How to Load and Off-load Gear from a Jeep with a Roof Rack?
  11. Are Jeep’s with Roof Racks Safe to Drive?
  12. Are roof racks for Jeep street legal?
  13. How durable are Jeep roof racks?
  14. Should You Let Your Insurance Company Know About the New Roof Rack?
  15. Will a roof rack affect the mileage of your Jeep?
  16. Do Jeep roof racks create lots of drag?
  17. Are inflatable roof racks good to install on a Jeep?
  18. Can a roof rack be taken off your Jeep when not in use?
  19. How do you install a roof rack on a Jeep?
  20. What type of routine checks should you perform after installing a roof rack on your Jeep?
  21. How to drive safely with your Jeep once you install a roof rack on it? - Roof Racks for Jeeps

As you can see, there are a million things to talk about around the topic of roof racks when it comes down to it. Since most Jeeps models are extremely versatile, quite often it makes sense to install a good roof rack on your ride.

Alright, without further adieu, lets go ahead and dive right into the topics mentioned above.

Important Note: Please be aware that we will provide just a general overview of each point here, and then elaborate more on the particular point on a whole separate page where we can really get down to the meat of the topic (a link will be provided below each summarized point to a new page that goes into much greater detail about that particular subject).

Let’s go…

1. What Are Roof Racks and Why Should It Matter to a Jeep Owner?

When it comes down to it, we highly recommend having a roof rack for your Jeep.

So, what exactly is a roof rack for a Jeep?  A roof rack is a set of bars that is secured to the roof of a vehicle. These bars allow the users of a Jeep to transport cargo on the roof of the vehicle without reducing the amount of interior space for passengers, or the transport area is extremely limited when it comes to being able to store a lot of gear. Roof racks are typically weatherproof, some are even designed for specific task (think skis, bikes, snowboards and/or luggage).

A Good roof rack allows you to carry just about everything that you don’t want or can’t fit inside of your ride. It could be anywhere from wet camping/swim gear, to larger boats, bikes, skis, hockey gear, etc…

And, lets be honest here, you are driving a Jeep and living the Jeep life! Don’t you want to make it easier on yourself in terms of being able to carry more gear and cargo on your outdoor adventures? Well, a roof rack for your Jeep makes all of that possible.  Heck, you can even get a roof-top-tent that allows you to sleep on top of your Jeep’s roof.  And guess what, you need a roof rack to be able to do that.

–> Click the following link to learn more about Why Roof Racks Matter for Your Jeep!

2. Do You Need a Roof Rack for Your Jeep?

Well, of course you do. Unless you are one of these people that just doesn’t like having extra space in their Jeep to be able to carry extra stuff whenever you need to. A good roof rack can come in super handy in case of emergencies, outdoor adventures, moving, camping, transporting bulky things, etc…  A roof rack in our opinion is a must have.

–> Click the following link for more information about Do You Actually Need a Roof Rack for Your Jeep?!

3. What Are Some of the Best Roof Rack for Jeep Manufacturers Out There?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Thule

Within this day and age, there are now tens, if not hundreds of different roof rack manufacturers. From cheap Chinese made knock-offs (not to say all Chinese made roof racks are bad) all the way to the cream of the crop roof racks for Jeeps that are built to last a lifetime.

Below, we will mention some of the more popular and quality roof rack manufacturers that are currently selling their products on the market.


These guys have been in business since 1942 and are a well known brand when it comes to outdoor and transportation products.  They make stuff like cargo carriers, roof racks, bike racks, storage products and more. Some would go as far as to say what Thule is the king of roof racks and cargo carriers.

Rhino Rack

This is an Australian company that creates world-ready outdoor gear of all sorts. Although not quite as old a company as Thule, Rhino Rack started in 1992 and has been rocking the roof rack for Jeeps world. The company currently sells their products to over 60 countries and their markets. They are a truly dedicated innovator that always tries to come up with cutting edge technological advances in the outdoor product space to help fellow outdoor enthusiasts in their quest to explore the wild. If you are looking for roof trays, roof racks, truck bed racks, bike racks, utility racks (construction and work) as well as many other types of products.


When it comes to roof racks, there are not many brands out there that come up more than Yakima. These guys make a quality product that can utilized time and time again (quite often for a lifetime). They also make great roof boxes, hitch style bike racks, cargo trailers, canoes and more. If you are asking for quality, Yakima won’t disappoint.


It took a bit of tracking down, but we have the low down on CargoLoc. This manufacturer is actually a part of a much bigger company called Allied International. In fact, Allied Int. has been doing it big since 1962. They are a true testament of what a top notch quality product manufacturer looks like. A quick search online shows us that CargoLoc has a huge line-up of roof racks and roof rack accessories that cover anything and everything from roof bars, hitch mounts, tie downs, hitch step, cargo bags, snap hooks and many more. The great thing about this manufacturer is that most of their products are quality made, well reviewed and very affordable.


A cool, small and not so well known fact about SportRack is that they were actually acquired by Thule. So, if you are looking for a good price without sacrificing anything in terms of quality, you’ve found a good match. As I’m sure you most likely already know, Thule is one of the best and most dependable roof rack and cargo carrier manufacturer out there- and having the SportRack brand join the Thule umbrella, just made both of these manufacturers even better.


This name actually represents a line of roof racks by the manufacturer Thule. If you’re looking for a good quality roof rack system, you’ve found a great line of products.

Allen Sports

Another half a century old roof rack manufacturer. This brand of outdoor gear is currently sold in over 12 countries and headquartered in the United States (New Hampshire). Their products tend to stand out in terms of quality and durability, their high star reviews show as much. Not only do they manufacture roof racks, they also specialize in bike racks. Quality, service and satisfaction is their motto.


This brand of roof racks specializes in towing solutions for the North American market. Products like roof racks, cargo carriers, ramps, bike racks, trailer accessories and more. They have a huge 40,000 square meter manufacturing factory located in China (founded in 1999). Most of the design, lab testing and R&D happens at this factory. If you’re looking for an in-house made product that can stand the test of real-world use (while being affordable), check out MaxxHaul.

If you would like more information on what the best brands and manufacturers are for Jeep roof racks, please click this link:  Top Roof Rack for Jeep Manufacturers & Brands.

4. How Many Different Types of Roof Racks Can Fit a Jeep?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Different Types

There is a large number of different roof rack configurations that can fit a Jeep. In order to help keep things as simple as possible, we will only discuss some of the most popular ones.

To begin, let’s go ahead and discuss the different types of roofs that can be found on a Jeep. Here are the 6 main roof types.

Naked / Bare Roof

A naked or bare roof is the most common type of roof type out there. If you were to look at a particular Jeep’s roof and if it looks like it has gutter type indentations running along the sides of the vehicle, this is what we in the business call a bare or naked roof. These types of roofs do not have any tracks or rails mounted on the top. With this particular type of roof, you will need to get a clip kit, a leg kit as well as crossbars in order to be able to create a complete roof rack system.

Factory Tracks & Fixed Mounting Points

Fixed connection points are factory-threaded fastening points that are ordinarily found at toe points on each side of the roof’s outer edge.
The connecting points are hidden beneath a removable panel, flip-up panel, or roof trim piece.

Fixed points can be either Crossbar Overhang or a Crossbar Terminating type.
These types of mounting points and factory track roof styles require crossbars and leg kits to create a full roof rack system.

Factory Siderails – Flush & Raised

Many SUVs, wagons and crossovers are equipped with factory-installed side rails that run front-to-back on the roof. These typically, though not always, are strong attachment points engineered to support a roof rack system.

Raised side rails are elevated off the roof such that a tower can be fitted all the way around it. A wide range of raised rail sizes exists; not every tower will fit every side rail.

Flush side rails sit directly against the roof and typically have a channel or pin holes for towers to fit into. This style of side rail is relatively new but becoming more widespread.

The second main option for bare roofs is doing a custom permanent installation – using either track or fixed point mounts. These installations are permanent, offer greater flexibility in positioning the roof rack, but are more expensive than clip fit rack systems.

Truck Canopy & Camper Tops

Jeeps with canopies or camper tops have two main options for mounting roof racks. The first is artificial side mount rain gutter brackets – these are installed on the side of the camper/canopy and allow a raingutter tower to be attached to it.

Second option is a custom track or fixed point installation on the camper/canopy top. These installations are complex, and we don’t recommend customers doing it themselves. These setups are usually permanent, but there are some removable options for campers/canopies. See below for roof rack towers compatible with custom track and fixed mounting points.

Custom Permanent Track & Fixed Point

These roof types are a cross between fixed points and tracks. For a permanent mount, you are required to drill and rivet the mount to your roof like a track, and you can’t move it once installed, like fixed point. Typically, our Rack manufacturers recommend a track mount over a permanent mount due to the increased versatility, but if you don’t want to have the extra expense and don’t intend to ever remove the racks, permanent mounts are a great option.

Rain Gutters

Years ago, rain gutter roofs were a common place and roof rack selection was simple. Today great diversity exists in passenger vehicle roof types. Rain gutters still exists on some late model vehicles but typically they’re only found on full sized cargo or passenger vans. The cross bar system is relatively simple and just requires the load bars and gutter foot pack. Thule does offer three heights to choose from depending on roof clearance requirements and two specialty rain gutter foot packs.

–> Want more information about the different types of Jeep roofs and roof racks, please click the following link: Different Types of Roof Racks that Can Fit a Jeep

5. How Much Do Roof Racks for a Jeep Cost?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Cost

For our visitors, price is typically the most crucial consideration. We attempt to cover as many things as we can since you’ll save money and it’s better for the environment (the majority of a rack’s carbon life span occurs during original construction).

At, we only discuss racks and accessories made by reputable companies like Yakima, Thule, and Rhino-Rack. These roof racks often have greater weight and gear capacities than other factory-built racks. The cost of a base roof rack may vary depending on if you want an aerodynamic profile, as well as the year and model of your Jeep. Complete roof rack systems range in price from about $150 to more than $500 for a top-of-the-line arrangement that is aerodynamic.

–> Click the following link to learn more about How Much Do Jeep Roof Racks Cost?

6. How Do You Choose the Best Roof Rack for Your Jeep?

Making arrangements for your next adventure gets much easier when you know that all of the gear that you are bringing will fit nicely in or on your Jeep. This all becomes possible when you have a proper roof rack in place. You are able to bring with you; your bike, your kayak, extra equipment, and even a rooftop tent so that you can overland camp.

Many rack experts swear by these 9 things that you should look for when looking to buy a roof rack for your Jeep.

1. Check the Weight of the Roof Rack That You Intend to Place on Your Jeep

Strong is more preferred when compared to heavy. Although a lot of racks are bulky and made of heavy materials like steel, lowering weight doesn’t have to mean sacrificing strength. A well-designed, all-aluminum rack will be 30% lighter than steel and have a greater capacity for strength and load bearing.

2. Go for a Modular Type of Roof Rack for a Jeep

A modular rack will make installation simple and enable you to add rack slats for a variety of purposes, such as building a whole platform, replacing unintentional damage, and including extras like excursion rails. The rack is adaptable to anything you need it for.

3. Check Out the Roof Rack Manufacturer’s Accessory Lineup

The absolute best rack is one that you can utilize in a variety of settings. There are countless adventure options when you have the most accessories. Make sure your rack can support mounts for bicycles, skis, surfboards, canoes/kayaks, roof top tents, water, fuel cans, and everything else you may need.

Make sure you’re not closing yourself out of possibilities since manufacturers will make it harder to place rivals’ items on their rack.

4. A Jeep’s Roof Rack Strength and Durability

A failed rack is the fastest way to sabotage a trip. An inexpensive rack might not hold up if you intend to travel into the wilderness. Verify if the rack maker specializes in creating equipment that has been tested in challenging environments.

Don’t confine your exploration to asphalt simply because you’re concerned about the strength of the rack. Fire roads and dirt trails are the only ways to get to some of the nicest camping areas.

5. Low Profile Roof Rack for Jeep

Whatever you install on your roof will affect noise and fuel efficiency. The good news is that a low-profile rack can help to lessen that impact. (“Basket-style” racks will cause drag and noise.)

Lower profiles are easier to load and unload, provide easier access to low parking garages, and reduce drag, which results in less noise and improved fuel economy.

6. Product Support for Your Jeep Roof Rack

There are shady rack businesses out there. They take your money, sell shoddy knockoffs, and then vanish. Choose vendors who have been in business for a long time and can provide live customer care to help with rack installation or answer performance-related questions.

7. Learn from the Pros That Know About Jeep Roof Racks

Look at some of the roof rack products that some of your fellow Jeep outdoor adventurists are using. Seasoned explorers and other well-known adventure photographers require the best roof racks out there to bring them to the most difficult locations. People who require the most durable equipment for regular use have had enough trial-and-error experience to know what works.

8. Wide Assortment of Roof Rack Product Range That Work With Jeeps

Find a manufacturer of racks and accessories for a range of different Jeep models. No matter which model you’re driving, having extra racks and accessories will give you more possibilities. The business will also be more aware of potential answers to your problems. Transferring your rack to your next set of wheels is always a smart idea because it’s possible that it will outlast your car.

9. 100% Metal Roof Racks for Jeep

Having more plastic parts in your Jeep’s roof rack and accessories will increase the likelihood of a failure. Plastic is more prone to cracking, it can become brittle, has a lower load rating, and can quicker fade in the sun’s energy. Because they are less expensive, companies will often utilize cheap materials, but in this situation, you really do get what you pay for. Risk is not worth it.

7. What Material Are Jeep Roof Racks Made Out Of?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Material

When it comes to most roof racks, the bulk of the rack’s components are manufactured out of two types of materials, steel or aluminum (sometimes both are used at the same time). The cost-effectiveness and durability of these two materials have led to their selection as the two most preferred options for Jeep roof rack construction.


This particular material is often used as it provides a great deal of strength, application and adaptability. The low weight of aluminum roof racks is by far their greatest advantage. One drawback to this material however is that it is not particularly inexpensive.


Steel Roof racks are another great material option. Steel is equally as robust and considerably less expensive than aluminum. But as mentioned above, aluminum is going to be considerably lighter than steel. But when it comes to strength, steel will beat aluminum in terms of durability any time.

8. What Components Make Up a Jeep Roof Rack?

When it comes to roof racks, it is important to know what components make up a high-quality roof rack. This applies whether you’re modifying a roof rack system with extras, buying a brand new one or creating your own roof rack at home. It is also important that you never skimp on quality or use inferior materials.

Crossbars and supports make the foundation of a rack system. To span your Jeep, you’ll need at least two crossbars and a means of fastening those bars to your vehicle. The various components that make up a Jeep roof rack are as follows:

Foot Packs / Towers

With the installation of a specialized kit or clip, towers or feet are typically attached to the factory roof rails, factory mount track, or permanent points already present on the four corners of your roof, as well as to the naked roof itself.

Load Bars / Cross Bars

The core components of every roof rack system are the load bars. Your Jeep roof rack’s utility, adaptability, and appearance will all depend on the bars you select. To provide a mounting location for your rack accessories, they attach to your vehicle’s foot packs or towers and extend from the driver-side window to the passenger-side window.

Depending on the size of your Jeep, the model and the amount you intend to transport, the load bars come in a variety of lengths. Basic bars come in square or round shapes, but you may upgrade to wider, flatter bars that have an aerodynamic profile like an airplane wing. These are frequently quieter.

Fit Kits / Clips

These components install on the tower of your Jeep and are model-specific. Some Jeeps, such as those with higher rails that are fitted at the factory, do not need these at all.

9. What Can You Transport on a Jeep’s Roof Rack?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Types of Items to Transport

As you can imagine, there are a plethora of different things and items that you can transport via your Jeep’s roof rack. We can (and did) write up a whole guide on this. Due to that, we’ll go ahead and just briefly cover just a few things here on this page.

One important thing to remember is that most passenger vehicles out there have a weight limit of 150lbs, regardless of which type or kind of roof rack you utilize.

What can you transport on top of a Jeep with roof rack?


When it comes to transporting of luggage, there are two ways that you can go about it.  You can place the luggage directly onto your roof rack (or roof rails) and secure it via a rope. Or, you can get an actual luggage carrier roof rack or roof rack system.


Just like luggage, we can transport bikes in two different ways. By using tie downs on top of roof rails/rack, or by getting an actual bike rack that will fit right on top of your roof. One negative thing about fastening bikes directly to a roof rail system is that the metal on metal (bike on Jeep roof) can damage the actual roof pain or even indent the roof itself. We suggest that you actually get a bike rack for your Jeep. You can also get at bike racks that attach to your Jeep’s trunk.


Awnings are awesome for camping and going to outdoor events. And just like other similar sized items that can be transported with a Jeep’s roof rack, so can awnings. It is recommended to actually go out and purchase a roof rack that is meant to secure an awning. You can either place the awning directly on the roof rails/rack of your Jeep, or if you get a roof rack that is specifically meant to be able to secure a roof-top awning, you will be able to roll out the awning securely without having to worry about damaging something on your Jeep by using DIY securing methods.


Just like the previous items that we just discussed; skis are another great item that can be hauled with a roof rack. You can place the skis directly on a roof rack/rail system, or you can actually go out and buy a ski roof rack system that is meant to transport skis. The latter would obviously be the safer way to go in terms of secure travel.


Same thing applies to snowboards as it did with the skis. As long as you can safely secure a snowboard to your roof via a roof rack or rail system, you can transport it. However, it is recommended that you go out an actually get a snowboard roof rack system that is meant for this type of stuff.


Surfboards are very similar to snowboards when it comes to their transport. Although you are able to just place a flat surfboard on top of your Jeep without too many components required, it is still recommended that you utilize an official surfboard racking system to be on the safe side.


Now, this is a big one. Most of us have been guilty of transporting a mattress on top of our bare roof at one point or another (including myself). But as the saying goes “just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should”, I strongly advise against a naked roof transport of a mattress. First of all, although the mattress appears to be made from a soft fabric material, there is a very good chance that its edges or stitching can scratch your Jeep’s roof. And not only can it scratch it, but it can also dent the roof. Although roof racks that were specifically built for mattress transport are very uncommon, a simple roof rack system should suffice.  As long as the mattress is lifted off of the surface of your Jeep’s roof (if even by an inch or two), it is better than it being directly on a bare roof.


If you thought the mattress point above made sense, you can just image having to haul lumber on top of your roof. It is absolutely (without a doubt) recommended that lumber never be transported on a naked roof. Yes, you can place it on top of a thick blanket or something to help prevent scratching, but would you really want to risk it?  I doubt it. Buying a proper roof rack with a rail system can help you avoid unwanted damage to your Jeep when transporting lumber.

Sporting Equipment

A good way to avoid losing your sports equipment when traveling is to actually invest in a good basket accessory for your roof rack. A basket will essentially allow you to carry smaller items (including luggage) and to be able to properly secure them to your Jeep’s roof.


This is one of our favorite types of items to carry on your Jeep’s roof rack.  Here’s the cool thing about it, not only are you able to carry a tent on top of your roof rack via a roof rack transportation system, but you can also purchase a full-on roof top overlanding tent system that allows you to camp on top of your Jeep. This essentially allows you to setup your tent on your Jeep’s roof to be prepared for things like storms or wildlife encounters (think Bears, mountain lions etc..).


Boats, boats, boats.  Are you an outdoor enthusiast? If so, a roof rack can open a number of exciting new activities for you to explore. You can transport a kayak fairly easily with your Jeep’s. Although you could technically do it on a bare roof, we strongly recommend against it so that you don’t damage your Jeep’s roof. A simple roof rack rail system should suffice in transporting a kayak, but you could always invest in an actual kayak roof rack transportation system. A good kayak rack system would allow you to easily transport more than one kayak at the same time (some allow for 4 kayaks at once).


Now, canoes are a bit different from kayaks. We would absolutely recommend that you transport your canoe on a roof rack. It is just not worth risking it with a bare/naked roof. Canoes are bulky, heavy and there is a very good chance that it could dent or crush your Jeep’s roof if not secured properly via an actual roof rack system.

Paddle Boards

Just like the kayaks and canoes, transporting a paddle board on a Jeep is a great way to some well needed adventure. Having a roof rack with a kayak transportation system makes paddle board transport a breeze. You can also just use a standard roof rack and manually tie down the paddle boards to the roof rack. Lastly, it is possible to transport a paddle board on a bare/naked roof of a Jeep, however it is recommended to utilize at least a roof rack to make it easier and safer for the trip.

10. How to Load and Off-load Gear from a Jeep with a Roof Rack?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - How to Load or Offload

One of the great benefits of having a roof rack is the ease of loading and off-loading gear from your Jeep. A roof rack provides you with all of the necessary hook ups and connections to securely place and fasten all of the items that you will be transporting. Whether you are transporting large items like mattresses, kayaks, luggage or smaller items like camping gear and sports equipment, a roof rack makes it all easier. In addition to having a basic roof rack system, you can also add accessories to it like cargo baskets, bike racks, kayak racks, roof bags and more.

Here are the instructions to a quick loading and offloading of cargo from your Jeep with a roof rack.

Instructions on Loading Cargo/Gear to Your Jeep’s Roof Rack

  1. Get tie down straps with ratchet (do not use bungee cords)
  2. Place the gear on your jeep’s roof rack with the heaviest item in the middle and to the lowest point and the rest around this item.
  3. Run the tie down strap over the load and loop it around the roof rack on the opposite side so that you can utilize the ratchet to tighten the whole thing. Tip: use a longer strap to allow for a second pass over your gear for better tightening.
  4. Important! Do not tighten the ratchet too much as some roof racks can break/crack from the pressure.
  5. The main idea is to create a loop that tightens the whole load closer to the roof of your Jeep.
  6. Once you are done tightening and securing the load, walk around, inspect and pull on the various articles of cargo on every side to see if it is secure enough.
  7. Grab the load with both of your hands and attempt to move it side to side to see how securely tightened it is. If the cargo begins to loosen up or move around, this is where you will need to retighten the straps.
  8. It is recommended that you take a drive with your Jeep with the fully secured load prior to beginning your trip to make sure that you are first of all comfortable driving with the load, as well as to check the quality of the tightening and securing job. Tip: keep in mind that your Jeep will handle differently with all of the extra gear on top of it, so make sure that you do some practice driving prior to going up into the mountains and longer load trips (especially driving on the highway).

Instructions to Off-Loading Cargo/Gear from Your Jeep’s Roof Rack

Offloading gear from your roof rack is pretty straight forward. Just reverse the steps from the loading section and you will have successfully offloaded your gear.

  1. Once you arrive at your location, undo the ratchet straps that were holding the gear in place and remove them from around the cargo and roof rack. I would recommend that you immediately fold and store your ratchet straps for later use.
  2. Begin removing cargo from your Jeep’s roof rack by taking off all of the lighter items first. Once the lighter items are off, you can then proceed to take off the heavier or bulkier items.
  3. And, done.

11. Are Jeep’s with Roof Racks Safe to Drive?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Are They Safe

As you can imagine, most manufacturers of roof racks for Jeep design their products with safety in mind. After all, Jeeps tend to travel at high speed and often times on rough terrain. So, to answer this question; yes, most roof racks for Jeeps are safe. When it comes down to it, the roof racks are designed in an aerodynamic way that in turn allows them to cut through air with relative ease. In addition, the racks come with a plethora of clamps, straps, locks and other securing accessories to help you make sure that your cargo is secure while traveling at high speeds.

However, just as it is with everything else, there are many different variables that play into the safety equation. Some of them are; how good of a driver are you, is the roof rack of good quality, is the roof rack old, is the roof rack secured tightly to the roof of your Jeep, is the gear itself securely tied to your Jeep’s roof rack, what are the driving conditions like, is it super windy outside, how fast is your Jeep traveling, what type of terrain are you driving on, and so on.

12. Are Roof Racks for Jeep Street Legal?

When looking to purchase a roof rack for your Jeep, one of the first questions that tend to come up is “are roof racks for Jeep legal?”. There are two ways of looking at this. Firstly, federally they are typically legal, yes. On the other hand, each state has their own laws regarding roof racks, so you should make sure to check your immediate state’s laws regarding this question.

For example, certain states allow for Jeep’s to be equipped with a roof rack (that has lights) on the condition that the light itself is not turned on/off while driving on the main roads. On another hand, the state of California allows you to have the lights up there on your roof, but they must be covered at all times.

13. How Durable are Jeep Roof Racks?

As mentioned throughout this page, most manufacturers pride themselves on the quality and durability of their products. But you should be aware, that not all products are created equally. There are a ton of roof racks out there that are designed by overnight companies who just want to make a quick buck. You should always make sure to do your own research on the roof rack manufacturer whose products you are interested in. How long have they been in business, what do their reviews look like (make sure that the reviews are legit), what construction material are their roof racks made out of, etc..

Generally speaking, if you purchase a roof rack from one of the big manufacturers (like Thule) that have been around for decades, you are typically in good hands.

14. Should You Let Your Insurance Company Know About the New Roof Rack?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Insurance

Are you pondering the idea of installing a new roof rack on your Jeep to be able to carry bikes, luggage, skis or camping gear? If so, you should always make sure that your insurance company is notified prior to make any changes to the Jeep. The reason behind this, is the fact that modifications like a roof rack can often impact the insurance on your Jeep if the changes alter the vehicle’s safety, add more chance to having an accident or if the modification increase the value of the Jeep. Here is one of the main things that you should know about this particular type of vehicle modification.

Roof Rack for Jeep Modification

If you were to add a roof rack, ski rack or a bike rack to your Jeep, you should definitely reach out to your insurance company about it (whether you are planning on doing it or if you have already installed it). Even though the installation of a roof rack on your Jeep may seem like a minor modification, you should (if possible) check in with your insurance broker before installing to make sure that this is something that they approve of (otherwise you might need to change insurance companies).  You should also double check to make sure that these modifications won’t impact your insurance policy in any way (such as increasing the value of your Jeep or impacting its safety).

15. Will a Roof Rack Affect the Mileage of Your Jeep?

I wish that we could answer this question with a resounding no. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many tests out there that have been performed in order to check the impact on a Jeep’s mileage after the installation of a roof rack. Some tests have gone as far as to say that the mileage on your Jeep could drop all the way down to almost 20%. Now, this sounds very discouraging, I know.

Therefore, when you are ready to purchase a new roof rack for your Jeep, you should absolutely try to get a good quality one that won’t affect your vehicle’s MPG as much. In this case, the saying “you get what you pay for” truly does ring true. For instance, Thule’s Hyper XL roof box is built with the purpose of being extremely aerodynamic and to have a small footprint when driving on the road. Having a low-profile roof rack or roof box will definitely affect your Jeep’s MPG in a lesser way.

16. Do Jeep Roof Racks Create Lots of Drag?

Just as point number 15 focused on the affect that a roof rack on your Jeep has on MPG, a similar point can also be made for drag. In fact, loss of MPG and the addition of drag when driving your Jeep with a roof rack go hand in hand. The more surface area the roof rack covers (think boxy roof racks and boxes), the less aerodynamic it will be and the more drag it will create.

17. Are Inflatable Roof Racks a Good Option for Your Jeep?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Inflatable

When it comes to roof rack and roof bars for Jeeps, they are an essential piece of machinery if you like to do any sort of outdoor activity. They make hauling of many different types of items a breeze, they are easy to assemble and install on a Jeep since they do not require much expertise. Just about anyone can do it with some basic know-how and tools.

Now, where it comes to inflatable roof bars or roof racks for your Jeep; things get even easier. This is a modern solution for transporting everyday items (like kayaks, canoes, skis, ladders, etc) on top of your Jeep. Even thought right off the bat you may think that inflatable roof racks are not that durable, you couldn’t be more wrong. The air tubes that comprise and inflatable roof rack system are puncture resistant, which in turn creates a soft cushion between the vehicle’s roof and the items resting on top of the inflatable roof rack. One thing that makes these types of roof racks potentially better for you Jeep is the fact that they are very light (unlike a traditional steel or aluminum roof rack that can weigh a ton).

18. Can and Should a Roof Rack be Taken off Your Jeep When Not in Use?

You may think that taking a roof rack off your Jeep when not in use is a good idea due to it causing drag, etc. But you should also be aware that the more you take the roof rack on and off your Jeep, the more wear and tear the system is experiencing (which in turn makes it more prone to damage as time goes on).

According to Yakima’s website, they recommend that the roof rack always stay on unless you are needing to clean it or perform maintenance on it. However, if you are considering taking a long road trip and won’t be using the roof rack for this trip, you could take the roof rack off as to not put on unnecessary mileage on it.

19. How Do You Install a Roof Rack on Your Jeep?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Installation

As we have put together a complete guide on Jeep roof rack installation, we’re only going to provide a brief summary here. Please check out the complete installation guide below.

Evaluate Your Jeep

The number one step in a roof rack for Jeep installation is to determine the absolute best option for your vehicle. Look at the top of it to see if it already has pre-installed raised rails. If you see a pair of raised rails, work with them as you attempt to install the new roof rack for your Jeep.

Also check to see if your Jeep has any hidden mounting hardware or brackets. Some Jeeps already come pre-equipped with mounting points (hidden by small plastic coverings) that allow you to connect several different types of rock racks to your Jeep.

Learn the Parts of a Roof Rack

As you can imagine, roof racks that can fit a Jeep come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. The best and easiest way to understand how to install a roof rack on your Jeep properly, is to learn what comprises a roof rack. Here are the most important components that you should be aware of.

  1. A mount (mounts attach to your Jeep)
  2. Cross bars (or roof rails – they run across the roof of your Jeep and connect to the mounting hardware)
  3. Tower / Rack (this is the part that connects to the cross bars in order to provide additional support for your Jeep’s equipment.
  4. Accessories (typically mounted to the cross bars or roof rails, they allow you to better secure specific types of items like kayaks, bikes, luggage, canoes, skis, etc.).

Raised Rail Installation

These types of roof racks for your Jeep are the easiest to work with and probably the most cost-effective option. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

  • Step 1: Assemble the base system. This typically involves connecting the mount and cross bars so they can be placed on your existing raised rails.
  • Step 2: Attach the clamps to your car’s raised rail system on both sides, following the manufacturer’s instructions. The place you position the clamps depends on the type of roof rack you’re installing.
  • Step 3: Mount the rack system using the properly positioned clamps. Consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on using your model.
  • Step 4: Add accessories to hold your equipment or cargo. Most roof rack systems work with a variety of different equipment and cargo types with the right accessories. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when adding accessories.
  • Step 5: Test your roof rack by adding cargo or equipment. A short, in-town trip is often recommended to make sure your mount is properly positioned and suitable for long-distance travel. This is particularly important with heavy items like kayaks, snow skis and luggage.

Track System Installation

As mentioned in the previous sub-section, raised rails are going to be the easiest type of roof rack to work with and/or install. However, quite a few Jeeps do not have raised rails by default. However, you will find lots of Jeep that come with Tracks*. Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to install a track system.

  • Step 1: Choose a roof rack system designed for vehicle track installation. Most models that work with vehicle track systems have a specific type of mount or attachment made to work with them.
  • Step 2: Install the mount or landing pad designed to fit inside the existing track system. You’ll typically do this first before adding any other hardware to your car. This may vary from system to system.
  • Step 3: Assemble the hardware that connects to the mount or landing pad that fits into your vehicle’s existing track system. Do this before attaching the assembled product to the mount or landing pad hardware. This will likely create a crossbar setup for your final rack installation.
  • Step 4: Mount the rack system and accessories to finish the job. Place these based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Step 5: Test your mount with cargo or equipment. Make sure it is securely installed.

Bare Roof Installation

Clip Style Roof Racks

Clip style roof racks mount to your car’s door jamb or directly onto the rubber rain gutters above your windows. Here’s how this installation generally works:

  • Step 1: Install the supplied clips as directed, either to the door jamb itself or the rubber rain gutters. Do this on all sides.
  • Step 2: Mount the cross bars to the supplied clips. Make sure they’re secure before moving on.
  • Step 3: Add the rack or tower according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Your spacing will typically depend on the type of accessories you plan to use.
  • Step 4: Place your accessories as directed in the installation guide or owner’s manual. Make sure your accessories are secure.
  • Step 5: Test your roof rack with cargo or equipment for safety.

Door jamb and rain gutter style roof racks work well for many different equipment types. However, if you prefer a more permanent installation, this can be achieved even if you have a bare roof to start with.

Permanent Installation

Permanent installation on a bare roof includes drilling into your car’s roof, which can impact the value of your vehicle if the roof rack is removed. It may also be a more difficult job if you’re unfamiliar with this type of work. In some cases, it may be beneficial to have a professional install your roof rack permanently.

If you wish to proceed with a permanent installation on a bare roof, use the general guide below. Consult your owner’s manual and installation instructions for more thorough details.

  • Step 1: Use the provided roof rack template to help you drill holes in your roof for your mounting hardware.
  • Step 2: Install the supplied hardware as indicated to create the raised rail or track system. The hardware included will vary depending on the roof rack installation kit you chose.
  • Step 3: Attach the track system or raised rails to the now-installed hardware. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
  • Step 4: Mount the cross bars designed to fit with your rail system. Placement will depend on the items you plan to carry.
  • Step 5: Install your chosen accessories and test your new roof rack for safety and security.

20. What Are the Best Routine Checks To-Do After Installing Your Jeep’s Roof Rack?

Roof Racks for Jeeps - Routine Checks

When loading gear onto your Jeep’s roof rack, make sure to give your roof rack’s various parts a good pull to make sure that everything is secured. Utilize an allen-wrench or ratchet set to tighten any loose bolts, screws or nuts.

Low Surface Areas: It is very easy to forget that you are hauling some expensive gear on your Jeep’s roof top. Make sure to pay special attention when driving your Jeep under low-hanging bridges, covered parking lots, food drive-throughs, etc. Also, make sure to watch out for your own home’s garage clearance. Quite often it is easy to forget that you have those items on your Jeep’s roof.

20. How to Drive Your Jeep Safely with an Installed Roof Rack?

When it comes to driving with a roof rack, there are a few things that you need to know.  Please see below.

  • Make sure to drive your Jeep slowly and carefully, especially when taking curves or turning at intersections. Never take turns at high speeds.
  • When going uphill, use a lower gear to help protect your Jeep’s engine from straining and overheating.
  • As mentioned in the previous section, keep an eye out for any low bridges and other low obstacles that could outright break your roof rack and/or cause issues while driving.
  • Bad weather conditions: When it comes to driving your Jeep with a roof rack, nothing can be quite as dangerous as icy or wet roads. The extra added weight of the gear on top of your roof rack can make your Jeep not handle as well as it typically would.
  • Long distance travel presents its own set of challenges. For one, you should always make sure to stop regularly and double check your roof rack’s connectors to make sure that all are securely fastened. Also double check the gear itself by tugging on it to make sure that it also is securely tied down.


Roof racks are the economical solution to your cargo space problems because they help you utilize all of your Jeep’s space.

They provide a safe yet comfortable solution when needing to haul extra gear with you on your Jeep outdoor adventures. Moreover, a roof rack is super easy to install on your Jeep and it also has the capability to add countless adapters and accessories to help you fully customize your Jeep experience.