Everything You Need To Know About Roof Racks



With the situation returning to normal after the decrease in Covid-19 cases across India, more and more people are hitting the road in their vehicles to satiate their thirst for travel and to also avoid public transport. As such the issue of installing Roof Carriages is once again in the forefront as of late quite a few travellers have been issued Challans for fixing the same.

Is it Legal to Install a Roof Carriage?

As per the Central Motor Vehicles Act 1988, a vehicle owner is permitted to install a Luggage Carrier on a private car and use it as per need. However, in many states, the respective Motor Vehicle Rules don’t permit the same.

For instance, you may be issued a Challan in Delhi for sporting a Luggage Rack while in Gujarat as per MVA 1988, you are allowed to install the same. Similarly in Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana it is permitted and can be seen as a common feature in most vehicles used as Taxis. In states like Rajasthan, cops may tell you that it is permissible for Taxis but not for private vehicles. In some states, you may require a separate Registration from the RTO to install one.

As is evident, is a contentious issue with little or no legal proof available in the public domain, so if you are planning to install one or drawing a plan to travel through any other state with a Carrier attached, it is always better to consult with the local RTO or browse the RTO website in advance to avoid getting into trouble later. Remember, the State Motor Vehicle Laws may supersede the Central one. Since Luggage Carriers are not factory fitted it falls under the grey area when it comes to legality.

Why do you need a Roof Carriage?

It is but obvious that when the boot space falls short, we opt for a rooftop Luggage Rack. In some vehicles, the small boot space compels us to install an after-market contraption. However, some vehicle owners are known to attach a roofed carriage for aesthetic value as they believe it adds to a macho image, though I fail to understand how.

While travelling with the elderly, we may have to take along a wheelchair which takes a lot of space and so may not fit into the boot of a small hatchback. In this context, you may recall the commode chair on the Luggage Carriage of the Innova from the movie Piku.

What to Remember?

While installing a Roof Rack or Luggage Carriage one must remember the following points:

  1. It should not protrude out of the vehicle as it may endanger other vehicles
  2. It should be fixed securely so that it does not come off during the journey which may be dangerous for vehicles following behind.
  3. The luggage should be secured to the Rack tightly so that it does not move or get dislodged
  4. If a plastic or tarpaulin cover is used to cover the luggage from dust and rain it should similarly be fixed tightly.
  5. The weight of the luggage should not be too much as it will destabilize the vehicle at high speeds
  6. The height of the car increases, so care should be taken while passing through tight underpasses.
  7. The total weight of the vehicle should not exceed the permissible weight, in other words, don’t convert a passenger car to a goods van by loading excess and heavy baggage.
  8. As with RV’s (Recreational Vehicles) you need to change to Google Map settings if you don’t want to get stuck under a bridge or underpass which might not be sufficient in height.

Disadvantages of Luggage Carriages

Despite the innumerable benefits, Luggage Carriages pose many problems some of which are outlined below:

  1. A loaded Roof Rack will certainly reduce mileage as it will induce drag due to resistance from the air around.
  2. The additional weight will cause stress on the engine thus resulting in less mileage.
  3. If not tied properly the shifting bags may make the vehicle unstable.
  4. Piled up luggage may result in Centrifugal force working on the vehicle making it move from side to side or result in toppling while taking fast turns.
  5. In trying to fix the Rack securely you may scratch or damage the car roof.
  6. While passing under barricades or low lying underpasses, you need to be careful, if not you may lose your valuable luggage.

We can safely conclude that unless it is necessary we should avoid installing any after-market attachment. If it is unavoidable then it would be better to check with the respective RTO in advance.

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