How do you attach a cargo carrier to a car?

photo of a woman attaching a cargo to a car

Getting ready for a family road trip often means trying to fit everything into your car, which can sometimes feel like a tight squeeze. That’s when a cargo carrier can save the day, expanding your vehicle's storage capacity so you can pack everything neatly and securely. Whether it’s a swift weekend getaway or a longer holiday adventure, mastering the art of attaching a cargo carrier to your car is essential. 

This guide, brought to you by BuyRoofPax—a trusted brand that ensures families enjoy hassle-free travels—provides easy-to-follow steps and expert tips for a correct installation. Begin your adventure with confidence, secure in the knowledge that all your travel necessities are perfectly stowed. Ready to start? Let's explore how the ideal cargo carrier can significantly improve your travel experience!

What You Need to Know Before Attaching a Cargo Carrier to Your Car

Relax, take a deep breath, and let go of the stress! Attaching a cargo carrier to your car is easier than you might think. Before you start, here are a few essential tips to ensure everything goes smoothly:

  • Know Your Car: Every vehicle is unique, especially when it comes to roof setups. Take a moment to check your car's manual or reach out to the friendly experts at BuyRoofPax. They can help you pick the perfect carrier that fits your car like a glove.
  • Mind the Weight: It’s important to know how much your car's roof can handle. Overloading is a no-go. Thankfully, most products come with clear weight capacities to help you load up safely and confidently.
  • Read the Instructions: There’s no rush here. Each carrier comes with straightforward, easy-to-follow instructions. Spend a few minutes getting familiar with them before starting, and you’ll be setting up like a pro in no time!

By keeping these points in mind, you're setting yourself up for a hassle-free start to your adventure. Now, let's make sure that the cargo carrier is attached securely, so you can hit the road with everything you need for a fantastic trip.

Cargo Carrier on a Car

Essential Tools You Need to Attach a Cargo Carrier to Your Car

Before you start, make sure you have all the essential tools on hand. You will typically need a set of wrenches, a screwdriver, and possibly a torque wrench to secure everything properly. Consider this similar to prepping for a baking session — having all your ingredients ready simplifies the process.

Step-by-Step Guide: Installing a Cargo Carrier to Your Car

  1. Check Compatibility: Before anything else, make sure the cargo carrier is suitable for your vehicle. This helps avoid any surprises on installation day.
  2. Read the Instructions Carefully: Every cargo carrier comes with a manual. Take a moment to read through the instructions thoroughly to familiarize yourself with the process and parts.
  3. Assemble the Carrier (if required): Some carriers come in parts and need assembly. Lay out all the pieces and follow the guide to put them together. Involve the family—it can be a fun and engaging activity!
  4. Position the Carrier on the Roof: With help, lift the carrier and place it on top of your car, ensuring it's centered. This prevents any imbalance that might affect driving.
  5. Secure the Carrier to the Roof Rack or Rails: If your car has a roof rack or rails, align the carrier’s attachment points with them. If not, use the straps included with the carriers, attaching them securely to the car’s door frame or hooks provided at the chassis.
  6. Tighten and Lock the Attachment Points: Once aligned, tighten all bolts or straps. If your carrier has a locking mechanism, ensure it's engaged.
  7. Double-Check for Security: Give the carrier a good shake to check for any movement. It should feel like a part of the car, solid and unmoving.
  8. Load Your Carrier: Now that your carrier is securely attached, you can start loading your luggage. Remember to distribute the weight evenly for safer travel.

Can You Attach a Cargo Carrier Without a Roof Rack?

Yes, you can! Products like the BuyRoofPax car top carrier are designed for easy installation with or without a roof rack. These carriers typically use strong, padded clamps that secure your car's door frame openings. They include straps that can be attached directly to your car’s door frame or via hooks to the chassis.

Types of Cargo Carriers and How to Choose the Right One

Roof Bags

Waterproof Car Roof Bag

Ideal for flexibility and easy storage when not in use, roof bags are soft, can conform to odd-shaped items, and often feature waterproof materials for weather protection.

  • Pros:
    • Flexible and easy to store
    • Often waterproof
    • Can conform to various item shapes
  • Cons:
    • Less secure than hard-shell carriers
    • Can be noisier due to the flapping fabric

User Testimonial:

"Drove 8 hours in the rain and everything stayed dry. The bag attaches very easily and is very secure with no loose straps blowing in the wind. Love it." says Kevin B., a satisfied customer of car top carrier bag.

Customer review

Roof Baskets and Trays

These are perfect for heavy or bulky items. They offer easy access and secure points for strapping down luggage but are less protective against the elements unless covered with a weather-resistant material.

  • Pros:
    • Great for heavy and bulky items
    • Easy to access
    • Secure points for strapping
  • Cons:
    • Less protection against the elements
    • Needs additional cover for weather resistance
RoofPax Universal Car Roof Rack Basket

Roof Boxes

Offering the best security and protection from the weather, roof boxes are hard-shelled and can be locked. They're aerodynamically designed to help maintain fuel efficiency but require more storage space when not in use.

  • Pros:
    • High security and weather protection
    • Aerodynamic design
    • Can be locked
  • Cons:
    • Requires more storage space
    • Generally more expensive

When choosing, consider:

  • Frequency of Use: How often will you travel with a cargo carrier?
  • Storage Needs: Do you have space to store a bulky carrier like a roof box, or would a collapsible roof bag work better?
  • Load Type: Are you carrying lightweight, bulky items or heavy equipment?
  • Weather Conditions: Will you frequently drive in rainy or snowy conditions that might require waterproof solutions?

Remember, a practical and reliable rooftop cargo carrier not only adds storage space but also ensures your belongings travel safely, making your road trips memorable and hassle-free.

Expert Tips for Securing Cargo on Your Roof Rack

Securing your cargo effectively is crucial not just for safety but also for your peace of mind. Here’s how to ensure your load remains secure:

  • Balance the Load: Start with heavier items in the center, flanked by lighter items. This helps keep your vehicle’s center of gravity low and stable.
  • Strap It Down: Use robust straps to secure your cargo. Tighten each strap and double-check them. If you can shift the cargo with your hand, it’s not secure enough.
  • Monitor the Weight: Avoid the temptation to add "just one more item." Stay within the specified weight limits for your cargo carrier and vehicle's roof.
  • Check Local Regulations: Before departing, verify local rules concerning cargo dimensions and weight to ensure compliance and safety.
  • Perform Safety Checks: Give your loaded carrier a firm shake before setting off to confirm everything is securely fastened. Tighten any loose straps if necessary.
RoofPax Universal Car Roof Rack
Get yours here! Roof Rack for Flush Rails

The Impact of Cargo Carriers on Your Vehicle’s Performance

Think of adding a cargo carrier as putting on a backpack for your car—it changes how it moves and feels. Here's what you might notice:

  • Fuel Efficiency: More weight means your car works a bit harder, which can lead to a slight dip in gas mileage. It’s not huge, but it’s good to keep in mind, especially on long trips.
  • Aerodynamics: A cargo carrier can catch the wind a bit, leading to increased wind noise and drag, especially when you're zipping down the highway.
  • Handling: With more weight up top, your car might handle differently. Take turns a bit slower and be extra careful in windy conditions.

Simple adjustments to your packing and driving style can help you adapt to these changes seamlessly.

Conclusion: Ensuring Safe and Secure Travel with Your Car's Cargo Carrier

By following these tips and using a high-quality BuyRoofPax cargo carrier, you can transform your car into a spacious and functional travel companion. Remember, a little planning and preparation go a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey for the whole family.

So, pack your bags, secure your carrier, and get ready to hit the road! With a little extra space and a whole lot of peace of mind, you're all set to create lasting memories on your next family adventure.


How long does it take to install a cargo carrier?

Typically, installation can take from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of carrier and your proficiency.

Do I need special tools to install a cargo carrier?

Basic tools like wrenches and screwdrivers are usually sufficient, though some models may require specific tools included with the carrier.

Can a cargo carrier be stolen?

Yes, but many carriers come with locks to secure them to your vehicle. Always park in well-lit areas for added security.

Is it okay to drive in the rain with my cargo carrier?

Yes, especially if you use a waterproof model like the RoofPax waterproof rooftop cargo carrier.

Will a cargo carrier fit any car?

Most carriers are quite versatile but check compatibility with your vehicle model before purchasing.

What should I do if my cargo carrier feels loose?

If your cargo carrier feels loose, stop immediately and check all attachment points. Tighten any loose straps or bolts and ensure all locks are engaged.