Roof bar buyer's guide

If you plan on transporting bikes or connecting a roof box, then you need to start by making sure that your car has suitable roof bars in place.

In this guide, we’ll explain the different kinds of roof bars that are available, as well as how to fit them into your vehicle.

What are roof bars?

Roof bars fit onto the roof of your vehicle, using a variety of connecting systems. They’re ideal if you're a regular camper, or cyclist, or just need to transport bulky items, as they allow you to move your bike, tents, bags and other equipment out of the boot or back seat and onto the roof.

What different roof bar options are available?

For most cars, you'll be able to choose from three main types of roof bars:

Square bars

They are traditional bars that are made from steel and have a black coating. Square roof bar image

Aero bars 

Made from lighter aluminium, these are more aerodynamic than steel bars, resulting in less petrol usage. A T-track system across the bar enables the full width of the bars to be used when mounting accessories.Aero roof bar image

Thule wing bars

Exclusive to Thule, wing bars are made from aluminium, incorporate a full-length T-track system, and are the most silent and aerodynamic roof bars available.

Thule Wing bar image

Which roof bars fit my car?

Although many of the roof bars we sell have been designed to fit most vehicles, it’s still important to check compatibility. The easiest way to do this is to use our handy online tool. Simply enter your vehicle registration number, select your roof type, and then we’ll show you recommendations for your vehicle.

You’ll also want to consider the properties of the roof bars. For example, some roof bars may have a weight restriction, so might not be suitable for larger families who want to take everything and the kitchen sink away with them on camping trips. Then there are things like aerodynamics and ease of use to take into account too.

Here’s a quick overview of how these different elements can impact your choice.

Check weight limits

Normally, roof bars will have a weight limit printed in the instructions or on the box. Our roof bar ranges have a weight capacity from 50kg to 100kg depending on the roof bars you choose. However, your car’s roof will have a weight limit too, which is normally lower than this. Make sure that you check the instruction manual for your car before loading up your roof bars, so you know that your roof can safely carry the weight of both the bars and your load before setting off.

Consider aerodynamics

Our Halfords Advanced aero roof bars and Thule wing bars are made from aluminium and shaped to cut through the air, making them more aerodynamic than steel square bars. These roof bars will therefore make much less noise, so you won’t have to turn up the radio as loud!

How to fit roof bars

Because cars come in all shapes and sizes, roof bars are sold in three separate parts:

  • The roof bars themselves
  • Foot packs to attach to the bars
  • Fitting kits, which connect the feet to the roof

For the majority of cars, you’ll need all three parts in order to fix the roof bars of your vehicle. If you happen to have open rails on your car (factory-fitted rails that come out of your roof), then you may only need the bars and a foot pack.

If fitting roof bars yourself sounds like hard work, then don’t forget that we can fit them for you. Our in-store motoring experts will make sure everything is fitted securely in place, and we’ll even get rid of the packaging for you!

Can I leave roof bars on my car?

Yes, particularly if you’re constantly transporting bikes or equipment. All of our roof bars are made from durable materials, so you don’t need to detach and reattach them every time you need to get the bikes to the local park.

Having said that, if you want your roof bars to last for as long as possible to save money on having to replace them, then it can be a good idea to remove them and put them into storage if you aren’t using them. The less exposure they have to the elements, the longer it’ll be before you need to replace them.

We’d also recommend removing roof boxes when they aren’t in constant use, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, certain plastics deteriorate over time in direct sunlight. Secondly, you may not be able to take advantage of car parks with height restrictions if your roof box takes you over the limit.

Do roof bars affect fuel economy?

Any modification that changes the shape of your car will likely have an adverse effect on your fuel economy, but with roof bars, the difference will be minimal. Thanks to a low surface area (even with square bars), any drag created will be barely noticeable, and even less so with aerodynamic roof bars. With pretty much all roof bars, you won’t feel like you need to head to the filling station sooner than without.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce fuel consumption, check out our article to find ways to improve your fuel consumption.

Can roof bars damage my car?

If your roof bars aren’t fitted correctly, then they can indeed damage your car. For example, if screws or clips are over-tightened, then the tracks in your roof or connection points can become warped or go out of shape. Always follow the instructions when fitting roof bars, or better still let a Halford's expert do it for you.

How can Halfords help

Beyond offering a market-leading range of roof bars, we can also support you with the right roof bar fittings, a range of roof boxes, and even a fitting service if you aren’t quite feeling up to the challenge yourself.

Was this helpful?

Related articles that may be of interest

©2024 Halfords Terms and Conditions Privacy Notice