Roof Bar Buyers Guide

If you plan on transporting bikes or connecting a roof box, then start here to find out all about roof bars and roof bar systems.

What are roof bars?

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

In this guide, we will explain the different kinds of roof bars that are available, as well as how to fit them to your vehicle. If you're looking for the right parts to fit your specific vehicle, use our vehicle lookup tool or ask in your local store, and we can tell you exactly what you'll need.

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 - Traditional load bars in steel with black coating.
  • Aero bars - Made from lighter aluminium, these are more aerodynamic than steel bars, resulting in using less petrol. A ""T-track"" system across the bar enables the full width of the bars to be used when mounting accessories.
  • 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.
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Which roof bars fit my car?

Although many of the roof bars we sell fit universally to most vehicles, you will need to not only check compatibility, but also consider the properties of the roof bars too. 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 consider.

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 bar you choose. However, your cars 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 Exodus Aero roof bars and Thule Wing Bars are made from aluminium and shaped to cut through the air, making them more aerodynamic that steel square bars. These roof bars will therefore make much less noise, so you won’t have to turn up the radio as loud!

The easiest way to choose the right roof bars for your car is to use our handy tool. All you need to do is enter your vehicle registration, select your preferences on both roof bars and roof boxes, then we’ll show you recommendations for your vehicle – simple!

How to fit roof bars

Because cars come in all shapes and sizes, roof bars are sold in three separate parts: the bars themselves, foot packs to attach to the bars, and fitting kits, which connect the feet to the roof. If your car has open rails (factory-fitted roof rails which come out of the roof), you may only need bars and a foot pack.

If fitting roof bars yourself sounds like hard work, then don’t forget Halfords 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! if you’re constantly transporting bikes or equipment. All of our roof bars are made more durable materials, so you don’t need to detach and reattach every time you need to get the bikes to the local park. We would however recommend removing roof boxes when they aren’t in constant use for several reasons; Certain plastics deteriorate over time in direct sunlight, plus you may not be able to take advantage of car parks with height restrictions if your roof box takes you over the limit.

If you want your roof bars to last for as long as possible, then 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.

Top tip: Always measure your car's overall height with a tape measure if you plan on parking in a height restricted car park.

Do roof bars affect fuel economy?

Any modification that changes the shape of your car will likely have an adverse effect, 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.

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 Halfords 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.

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