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Can i trust my luggage rack?

we are going on vacation soon and plan on taking our “new” 1990 jeep Cherokee. my question is, can I trust my luggage rack not to rip off while going down the highway if I useit to carry cargo. fishing rods, tackle boxes, a cooler maybe? it seems to be in good repair and rust free. thanks, wes

Is it a factory-installed luggage rack, or some aftermarket thing that the previous owner installed himself? If it’s original equipment, it’s probably fine. If it’s aftermarket… Who can say?

@shadowfax , its the original. I ve been planning to go to the junk yard to get a couple xtra cross bars but have not yet done so. also, I guess I should put the load on the cross bars right? I ve considered putting some stuff directly on the roof and adjusting the bars so that they kinda box the stuff in, but that’s probably dumb, huh?

It’s all about the weight, how you secure it and the aerodynamics. The last can have a huge effect. If you top it off with an aerodynamic carrier to put everything in, that helps. If I had doubts, I would retorque all the connecting hardware. You will find out right off if it’s still holding.

I had one on my station wagon and used it carry kitchen cabinets with no problem. Of course the issure is properly securing it and of course theft more than the rack itself blowing away.

I had not even considered theft, I rarely lock my car. but, out of sight out of mind I guess

I’ve never used one, but I think my biggest worry would be rain getting in. I don’t know exactly how they seal, but it seems like any minor damage to the seal would be bad news with rain coming in sideways at 75 MPH.

We used them for years without any problems. Some are designed to work with the roof, though I haven’t seen one of those in years. Those had a series of metal strips mounted parallel on the roof so your cargo wouldn’t scratch up the paint. Without those I would suspend the cargo from the crossbars. Most automakers sell various accessories that mount to the rack, like the obvious ski and bicycle racks and clamshell cargo boxes. If I was carrying anything that might invite theft, I’d get a lockable cargo box every time. They also are more aerodynamic, though putting anything on the roof will reduce gas mileage at least a little. Have fun on your trip.

thank @MarkM, I believe it does have metal strips on roof, have to wait til my better half comes home to be certain tho

Another factor with roof racks is the tie-down tension.
Careful not to cinch up so tighly that the side rails strain or lean.
They are mounted in the roof metal with expanding nuts and it is actually possible to yank them out with straps pulled up too tight. After that the hole’s too big for another and you have to take down the headliner to get inside with a bolt, washer and nut repair.

I can’t speak for the Cherokee, but I’ve seen cheap factory roof racks fail. My ski coach had a bunch of ski bags tied to his rack while travelling down the highway on his 80’s Ford station wagon. A truck coming the other way blew the rack right off. The stanchions holding the rack to the roof were a cheap white metal casting.

noted. thanks

A factory rack should be stable. Some of the aftermarket add-on racks may be good for a light load if it’s a bit aero so to speak.

In the past, a dealer I worked for sold a lot of add-on racks and so I installed a lot of them. As far as I know none of them ever came loose but those racks were held onto the sheet metal roof by a handful of No. 8 or No. 10 sheet metal screws. Not exactly a confidence builder, but those decisions were above my pay grade…

We were very busy one time and they assigned a lot porter to do a hurry up rack install. He lost the bag of screws from the kit right off the bat so he just went to the hardware bins and grabbed a handful of sheet metal screws.
He finished the rack, ran the car outside to park it, and never looked up. If he had he would have seen those 3" long screws perforating the headliner from front to back on a new car instead of the car buyer discovering it a few minutes later… :slight_smile:

now that, is a screw up

The delivery of the car was delayed for a few days until a complete new headliner arrived.

There’s no explanation as to how the porter screwed up that bad. He was actually pretty mechanically inclined even though he was not a mechanic and young to boot.

I think the company had him on overload as they really kept him hopping and his train of thought just left town momentarily while being tasked with half a dozen things at once.

Wonder where he thought the screws were going as he screwed them in? He would have had a much easier time with short screws. I like the few cars with easily removable racks that fit into sockets. Our Elantra GT hatch has that sort of setup, but we don’t have the rack crossbars that fit in the sockets. In my next life as a skier/mountain biker I’ll buy them.

It’s a function of how well the rack is attached. I carried a sofa on the roof of my 2 door hardtop Dodge Dart for 150 miles. On the other hand I saw an older couple with a mattress tied to their roof rack and had it sticking out over the windshield. Needless to say it did not stay on and acted like a bad airplane wing.

lol. you must have really liked that sofa

wesw The sofa was a gift from my in-laws when we were first married and started finishing the basement. To carry a sofa you have to unscrew the legs and put the flat part on the very sturdy rack rails (aftermarket) and then secure it very tightly. The car was sensitive in crosswinds as the road ran along the lake and picked up windgusts.

Though the owner’s manual for my Sienna drifted several years ago, it seems it said something about the rack on my Sienna, with a very small weight limit.