How to Install a Roof Rack for Cars Without Rails -:Complete Guide

Struggling to make your car fit all the luggage you need? You don’t have to be frustrated anymore!

This guide will walk you through installing a roof rack on cars without rails, giving you the extra space for those weekend roadtrips. We’ll show you how to make sure your gear is secure and provides maximum safety for everyone.

Installing a roof rack on your car can be helpful in allowing you to transport items like camping gear or sports equipment. While roof racks are generally not difficult to install, they typically require side rails and gutter mounts, which many cars do not have. If your car does not have these features, there are still options for getting a roof rack. This guide will provide detailed instructions on how to install a roof rack for cars without rails. Specifically, we will outline the steps for installing an aftermarket rail-less roof rack system that uses clips and straps instead of rail mounts.

This guide will begin with an overview of the materials needed, followed by instructions on how to properly measure and prepare the vehicle. Once ready, we will describe how to properly install the base system including attaching the mounting clamps, securing straps, and inserting the crossbars into place. Finally, we’ll explain how to use additional clips or accessories such as bikes baskets or cargo boxes. After reading this guide you should feel confident in your ability to install a secure and reliable rood rack system that is free of traditional rails on your own car!

Explanation of what a roof rack is and why it is useful

A roof rack is an essential item for any car owner who frequently travels long distances, participates in outdoor activities, or transports bulky items. It is designed to attach to the top of a vehicle and provide extra carrying capacity.

Modern roof racks are made from aluminum, metal, or plastic and are available in several styles and designs. Roof racks make it easier to securely transport large cargo above the car’s roof that do not fit inside the trunk of your vehicle. This can include kayaks, bicycles, and ladders. Roof racks also provide additional space for suitcases and extra bags when traveling by road.

Installing a roof rack is relatively simple for any model of car if you follow the proper installation steps outlined below.

Mention of the purpose of the guide

When you’re out on the open road, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to bring some items along with you. Since the interior of your vehicle may not have enough space for all the items, a roof rack can be a great way to secure extra cargo.

Even better, installing one on your car doesn’t have to be a challenge. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to install a roof rack onto cars without pre-installed rails or tracks, allowing you to travel with the peace of mind that comes with having everything adequately secured.

Required Tools

Before beginning the installation, there are certain tools and materials that need to be gathered. It is important to have these items on hand so that the installation is easier and faster. Depending on the specific make of vehicle and roof rack chosen, some of these items may not be needed.


  • Measuring Tape: Used to take exact measurements of your roof’s dimensions to ensure an accurate fit.
  • Phillips Screwdriver: Used to secure the roof rack’s feet mountings into the car’s roof rack tracks.
  • Pliers: Used to adjust any clamps during assembly or fasten tightly any bolts during installation.
  • Allen Key/Hex Key Set: Often used for adjusting mounting hardware for customized fittings.
  • Electric Drill with bits for pilot holes – The electric drill ensures a secure fit when installing any screws or bolts onto your vehicle’s roof rack tracks or brackets


  • Mounting hardware – This includes brackets, screws, bolts and washers depending on the specifics of your roof rack design. The specific type of mounting hardware needed will depend whether you are installing clamp rail, T track or universal mount system onto your car’s roof racks.
  • Rubberized coating – often used between two surfaces when it is necessary to avoid corrosion and weatherproofing against extreme temperatures or elements (e.g rain, snow etc).

List of tools required for the installation process

Installing a roof rack on a car without rails requires some specialized tools and materials. Before you start, make sure that you have the following items available:

-Screwdriver or drill

-Allen wrenches

-Utility knife

-Measuring tape

-Bolts and washers

-Washer/rubber washers

-Nylon straps or bungee cords as needed

Once you have all the necessary materials, you can begin installation of your roof rack.

Brief explanation of each tool and its purpose

Balances and Levels: Balances, levels and protractors are all important tools for the installation of a roof rack. Balances are used to check the angle of fit between the car’s roof section and accessories, while levels are used to ensure an even fit between all parts.

Protractor: A protractor is used for both horizontal and vertical measurements. It can also help check that the racks are parallel with each other when mounted. This helps evenly distribute the weight of any cargo being carried on top.

Ladder: A ladder or step stool allows access to the car’s roof so that tools can be reached accurately and safely while upright on the ground. It gives you a good vantage point while still allowing you to reach necessary parts of the unit when installed up high.

Long-distance Measuring Tape: Since the base unit is installed at long distances away from each other, it is important to use a longer measuring tape to get accurate results throughout each side of installation.

Power Drill/Sockets/Socket Wrench/Driver Bits/Screws/Threaded Inserts/Nuts: All of these tools and items aid in attaching your roof rack securely onto your vehicle’s frame using screws, nuts, bolts, or threaded inserts in order to ensure a tight hold and maximum protection against sound-causing vibrations that would otherwise occur without their usage. They also guarantee that no structural damage occurs during installation as well as safely secure any cargo placed aboard it for travel needs.


III. Preparation

Before you begin installing your roof rack, it’s essential to make sure you have necessary components and preparation steps completed. Start by ensuring the roof rack is compatible with your car; double check the instructions for exact specifications to make sure the frame components fit properly with your vehicle.

Next, remove anything that could prevent proper installation of the roof rack—such as stickers, excess dirt or dust, etc. Seek out any problematic areas on the roof before you begin; if there are any corrosive spots or rust clusters, treat them with a mild cleaning product beforehand. Following this step will ensure that you don’t run into unexpected problems during installation.

Once all appearance-related issues have been addressed and all needed components are at hand, prepare your route: pay attention to overhead obstacles such as tree branches and low ceilings while planning ladder placement so that it is secure and stable while you are working on top of it. Finally, take appropriate clothing precautions such as wearing a safety harness when you’re up bear in mind that parts may become slippery when wet and plan ahead to bring towels in case of rain—stepping onto a wet ladder can be quite dangerous!

Cleaning the roof of the car

Before you can begin the installation of your roof rack, it is important to make sure that the roof of the car is clear of all debris. First, use a garden hose to clean away dust, dirt, leaves and other materials from the roof. Once most of these larger pieces have been cleared away, use mild soap and warm water to further clean the area. Pay extra attention to cleaning those areas where your roof rack components will be connected to the car.

Regularly inspect the roof for remaining leaves or stones that may interfere with your roof rack construction. After you are satisfied that all debris has been removed from around your installation area, make sure to completely dry off any water residues in order for adhesives and mounting systems to function properly.

Positioning of the roof rack

When you are ready to install your roof rack, the first step is to read the instruction manual and ensure that you have all the necessary components for the installation. It is essential to ensure that the roof of your car is sturdy and does not have any visible damage before you start this process.

Once you’ve checked your components, start by positioning the roof rack. You need to make sure that the crossbars are positioned evenly on both sides; it’s important to measure accurately so they fit squarely onto your vehicle’s roof. When attaching, use a wrench or nuts and bolts depending on what kind of mount you have purchased. Make sure they are fastened securely onto your car with no movement or give. If there is any doubt, refer back to your installation guide or contact a qualified mechanic for advice.

Adjusting the rack to the appropriate width for your car

Once you have the cross bars installed, it’s time to adjust them to the correct width for your car. To do this, simply loosen the screws or bolts that secure the rack to the bars, then slide them along until they fit snugly within your existing door frame or trunk lip. Adjusting the width should not be difficult and will require just a few minutes of your time.

Once they are adjusted, tighten all screws and bolts securely to ensure a proper fit. If you have rubber bumpers on your vehicle, make sure that they are also securely fastened so that they do not become worn out over time and interfere with proper operation of the rack.


In closing, you now have a better understanding of how to install a roof rack for cars without rails. Make sure you take the necessary precautions before and during installation. Measure twice and drill once, secure all bolts tightly, and use car-specific mounting hardware for optimal safety.

If you decide to hire a professional installer, ensure that they have intensive experience with installing car roof racks so that the job is done correctly. With the right tools and knowledge, you can add an effective accessory to your car easily in no time!


Can you install roof racks without rails? 

Yes, there are roof rack systems available that can be installed on vehicles without pre-existing roof rails.

Can I add roof rails to my car? 

It depends on the make and model of your car. Some cars are designed to have roof rails installed, while others may not have that option.

Can I use a RoofBag without rails? 

Yes, a RoofBag can be used on a car without roof rails by using a strap system that attaches to the door frames.

Does a car need roof rails?

 No, a car does not necessarily need roof rails. However, if you plan on carrying items on the roof of your car, roof rails or a roof rack system are recommended for safety reasons.

Are clamp roof racks safe? 

When properly installed and used according to manufacturer instructions, clamp roof racks can be safe. However, it is important to choose a high-quality product and follow all safety guidelines.

Can you install a roof rails on a bare roof? 

Yes, some roof rails can be installed directly onto a bare roof using special clips or brackets.

What is the difference between roof rails and roof racks? 

Roof rails are fixed components that run the length of the roof of a car, while roof racks are removable systems that attach to the roof rails or directly to the car’s roof.

What’s the difference between roof bars and roof rails? 

Roof bars and roof rails are often used interchangeably, but generally, roof rails are more permanent fixtures that run the length of the car’s roof, while roof bars are removable and can be attached to roof rails or directly to the car’s roof.

Are roof rails important? 

Roof rails can provide added safety and convenience when carrying items on the roof of a car. They can also improve the overall look and functionality of the vehicle.

Are roof rails free? 

No, roof rails are typically not free. They are often included as a standard feature on some higher-end vehicles, but may also be available as an optional add-on at an additional cost.

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