Is It Okay to Use a Bike Rack, or Cargo Box or Bag on My Car?

Your car is important to you, and you want it to look good. You also want to use it to haul everything you need hauled. These desires can be in conflict. Luckily there are a variety of products (bike racks, cargo bags, and boxes) designed to help you haul stuff without causing damage to the paint or body of your vehicle, but you need to choose and use these products carefully or you’ll risk incurring some damage.


There’s no denying the convenience of some of these products. If you’ve ever crammed a bike into a car (or tried to) you know how awkward that can be, and the damage it can cause to your car’s interior. It can also hinder your view of the rear window of the car, making driving less safe. You may have to disassemble the bike to fit it into the car and reassemble it later, which requires time and effort. A bike rack allows you to haul your bike (or bikes) on the top or back of your car. This frees up the interior of your car for passengers or cargo and saves you a lot of grief.


A cargo bag or box is a similar concept. If it’s a quality product, it gives a safe and waterproof space behind or on top of your car for your cargo, freeing up interior space. For both of these products, read some reviews before making your purchase, and make sure to read the instructions thoroughly when you set them up. Don’t skip any steps. If a bike rack or cargo container falls off your car when you’re driving it can not only damage your car and your stuff; it can also cause a serious accident, for which you are liable.


Possible Damage to Paint

Another reason to follow these products’ instructions to a T is to avoid any possible damage to your car’s paint job. Bikes and cargo can be heavy, and roads can be rough. These factors in conjunction can cause paint damage if you’re not careful. Many bike racks or cargo containers will come with buffer material to protect your car’s paint. Remember to use it, and don’t misplace it.


Possible Body Damage

Misuse of these products (or faults in their design) can cause a similar risk to your car’s body. Read the weight recommendations for each product to avoid putting a dangerous strain on the structure of your car. Items that are too heavy (a set of weights for instance) can dent the top of your car or your trunk top, in addition to causing an unsafe strain on the straps and/or latches that keep everything from falling off your car. Also, if any component of your car gets bent, a roof rack, for instance, this damage can lead to rust, leaks, and other structural problems.


Other Ways to Avoid Damages

Besides following the installation and operating directions carefully, there are a few more safeguards to help you protect your car, bike, and cargo. Before driving, test the sturdiness of your bike rack or cargo container by tugging on them firmly. If they pivot or shift around too much, tighten the straps or latches. You might need to rearrange things a bit or move some cargo to your trunk. Once you’ve begun to drive, be mindful of your bikes or cargo. If you see any unusual movement or hear your stuff banging around excessively, quickly, and safely find a safe place to pull over and check everything out.


Also, be mindful of your car’s capabilities. A Mini Cooper or Smart Car will obviously not have the hauling power or stability of a Ford Expedition, so pack accordingly. If your car or truck has a trailer hitch, look for a bike rack or cargo container that attaches to it. This arrangement reduces the friction between your cargo or bike and your vehicle, reducing the possibility of paint or body damage. The only drawback is that you need to be more careful backing up because your vehicle is now effectively a foot or two longer than before. If your stuff is on top of your vehicle, pay attention to clearance restrictions at drive-thru restaurants and banks.


If your car has any paint or body damage, don’t hesitate to contact B&L Automotive Repairs. A family-owned business, we have over 30 years of experience handling every kind of body and mechanical repair, and we’ve even got a play area to entertain the kids while you wait. Our expert staff is continually trained and updated, and our state-of-the-art equipment allows them to serve you with the highest level of expertise. No matter what make and model you drive, or which insurance company you use, we will provide fast and reliable service to make sure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.

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