Roof Rack

I have a 2001 Nissan Xterra (the one with the roof rack) My average driving speed is between 50 & 75 MPH ( live in Arizona)

Where can I find out what gas mileage I would gain (if any) if I removed the roof rack. I’m now getting 18 MPG

Leave it on for a tank of gas and measure your mileage. Take it off for the next tank and measure again. Could not be easier.


The only way to find out is to remove the roof rack and measure the gas mileage without it.

I agree with the above, and I suspect that you will not find that you gain much mileage without the rack.

If your roof rack is aftermarket, like Yakima or Tule, at highway speeds you might actually see a difference in MPG on vs. off. Also, you might notice an increase in wind noise with it on.
IF you leave your bikes or canoes or ladders strapped on it, I think you will definitely notice.
My RAV4 has the factory roof rack and it has positions marked for the crossbars to minimize wind noise.

The roof rack on the Xterra integrated into the design. If you remove it, you will probably need to plug the holes left behind. Also consider that removing the roof rack won’t improve the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle since the area behind the roof rack is taller than the front of the vehicle.

Keep in mind that the roof rack makes up a very small percentage of the Xterrs’s aerodynamic profile. If we were talking about a car, the roof rack would make up a larger percentage of the aerodynamic profile.

I suggest you forget about removing the roof rack. The one you have isn’t typical of other makes and models, and it has a wind deflector on the front of it that mitigates the infinitesimal effect it has on your fuel economy.

The vehicle is poor on gas by it’s nature…I hope you don’t expect suitable gains worth the loss of an integrated rack with all the associated problems. You’re better off changing vehicles if improved mileage is your intent.

It looks to me like the Xterra roof rack is designed aerodynamically. The front acts as a foil that pushes air over it. I don’t think that taking it off will help your mileage.

If you want to save fuel…switch to lower rolling resistance tires…read this post…start a new thread.


I just checked out your link. Do you really think much of the friction between the road and the tire is “wasted?” When I read statements like:

80% or more of a car?s fuel energy is wasted by friction and other such losses

I treat them with skepticism.

I reflexively challenge such broad sweeping generalizations. Nothing personal.