How to Install Roof Rails

by Tzvi Raphael
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private car image by Ivonne Wierink from

If your luggage or sports equipment is too big or bulky to fit in the trunk of your car, you can carry them on top of the vehicle. If your car didn't come with factory-installed roof rails, consider installing them yourself. Roof rails are also known as roof racks or car racks. You can get a roof rail from your car dealer, or buy one from an independent car parts supplier.

Step 1

Assemble the roof rails. Screw together the cross bars and side rails with a flat screwdriver and stainless steel screws.

Step 2

Place the unit carefully on top of the roof of your car. Adjust the position of the unit so that it's centered from side to side. Measure the distance from the roof rails to the front and to the back of your roof with a tape measure, to make sure the roof rails are centered from front to back.

Step 3

Place a template with pre-drilled holes at the end of the side rail. Insert an electric drill into the template and drill a hole through the roof of your car. Repeat for each hole at both ends of both side rails. Use a drill stop to prevent you from drilling too far into the roof.

Step 4

Insert a self-sealing screw into the end of the roof rail and tighten it into the roof of your car with a screwdriver.

Step 5

Twist the thumb screws on the sides of the roof rail to loosen each roof rail. Slide the rail to the position you want, according to how wide or narrow you want your roof rail.

Step 6

Wipe the roof of your car, all around the roof rail, with a soft cloth, to get rid of any metal shavings.

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