I have to admit, I’m jealous of people with roof racks. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something cool and trendy about having rugged outdoor gear strapped to the roof of a vehicle. It’s as if your ride is saying, “Hey, the person driving is into outdoor adventure, come join.” And I seem to salivate at the thought of zipping through single track mountain bike trails or ripping through the wild currents of a white water kayaking trip.
So to all the people with trendy roof racks, I have some good news and some bad news.
Good News: I think you look cool, and I want to join whatever you’re doing. Your roof rack is a great system to transport gear and as you know, they’re very reliable.
Now the Bad News: You’re killing your gas mileage. I understand the purpose when you’re transporting gear, but when you’re not (like kayak roof racks in February), you’re sacrificing gas mileage.
According to fueleconomy.gov, a fully loaded roof rack can reduce your gas mileage by 5%. At $3.70 per gallon for gas, it adds up fast. Even having a roof rack that’s not loaded can still reduce your gas mileage.
A quick math check says that if your car eco friendly car gets 35mpg and has a 12 gallon tank, you can drive about 420 miles on a tank. But with the full roof rack, you will get less than 400 miles from the same tank.
And for the folks like me without a roof rack, storing all of the off season gear in your trunk isn’t the best option either. An extra 100 lbs of gear in the truck reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by about 1-2 percent (fueleconomy.gov). That’s enough to make me unload the car when I’m done.
4 hours ago