Rack 'em up: auto rack storage solution guide

August 22nd 2016 | Benjamin Yong
Auto racks, like this roof rack with snowboard attachment, are an easy and safe way to increase vehicle storage.


Sometimes, there just isn’t enough cargo space in your car, truck, van or SUV to get the job done. Particularly for people fond of activities outdoors, fitting an odd-shaped piece of equipment sticking halfway out, with the trunk lid or liftgate tied down, isn’t the best or safest option. In this case, a vehicle rack might be the solution. There are several different kinds ranging in cost and function, and are usually available straight from the automaker accessory catalogue or aftermarket.

honda roof rack

Roof rack

This style is one of the most common, mounting directly atop the roof via rubber “feet” that clamp onto the outer roof edges or factory rails commonly found on utility vehicles. There are specialized optional attachments for fitting skis, snowboards and even baskets.

Trunk rack

It’s a common sight in Vancouver — cars puttering around with bicycles strapped to the back end. Most likely the drivers are using a rack hooked directly onto the trunk lid. The downside is trunk access will be limited while the bikes are mounted.

Hitch rack

A more convenient alternative is a hitch rack, which attaches directly onto a hitch if your vehicle is equipped with one. Usually it is installed utilizing a ratcheting mechanism and can accommodate one or several bicycles.

Spare tire rack

Intended for crossovers and SUVs with a spare tire bolted against the rear door, this rack uses an adapter plate that affixes itself right overtop of the spare. The convenient location makes it a cinch to load bikes, but may be limited in the amount you can carry.

Truck bed rack

For pickup owners only, a variety of racks exist that use the bed as an anchor point to provide secured storage. One type snaps into the bed rails allowing up to four bikes to carried upright.

Remember to remove any extra cargo when not in use because it can cause drag, which can worsen fuel economy and handling.

About the Author

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5.

Twitter: @b_yong
Instagram: @popuplights