By on April 28, 2016

roof rack (keone/Flickr)

Yeah, yeah, one day you’re going to put skis up there.

Automakers go to great lengths to make vehicles aerodynamic, adding grille shutters and painstakingly shaving off excess weight, but drivers are just blowing away the hard work with their roof racks, a new study reports (via CNET).

The effect of roof racks on fuel consumption was studied by researchers from Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, who published their findings in the journal Energy Policy.

It turns out that showing off what an active lifestyle you have via a sporty roof rack (or just being too lazy to remove it after that one trip) accounts for nearly one percent of all annual domestic fuel consumption.

The study finds that 0.8 percent of light-duty vehicle fuel consumption in 2015 can be tied to the aerodynamic drag these racks asserted on the cars carrying them. That translates into 100 million gallons of gas burned needlessly every year.

Most factory roof racks are carefully streamlined due to fuel economy worries — hell, some are downright sensuous — but the trouble comes from chunky, do-it-yourself units, the kind you see on almost every Subaru sedan (usually missing the high-end mountain bikes they were meant to carry).

Roof rack ranks are expected to grow 200 percent between now and 2040.

The report’s authors, Alan Meier and Yuche Chen, want the federal government to craft policy around the practice. They claim that the extra gasoline consumed due to roof racks is equal to 40 percent of the gasoline expected to be saved by electric vehicles in 2040.

Will your future include being pulled over and ticketed for having an empty roof rack? If these guys have their way, you’re damn right it will.

[Image: keone/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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99 Comments on “Your Roof Rack Hates the Environment and Your Wallet...”


  • avatar
    210delray

    I beat BTSR!

    This one’s going to 100 comments or more. Let the hate begin!

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Fail.
      BTSR’s first comment is based on the subject of the article but not the article itself, then later paradoxically adds more comments even further from the topic – usually with self-referential bragging.
      Try again.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I pay for all the energy I use. How I use that energy should be my business and my business alone, not the business of do-gooder think tanks.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Your personal energy use has negative external costs that aren’t included in the price you pay.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Agreed whole-heartedly.

      Besides, I use my decades old Yakima rack to carry all sorts of stuff on an ancient CR-V which gets 25 mpg. If I used a pickup instead, it would get maybe 18.

      Of course, the day will follow when an empty pickup bed also irritates the silly nannies to the point of legislation…

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      As a taxpayer, I subsidise your fuel use by paying for the incredibly laborious task of “liberating” “oppressed” peoples around the world and “safeguarding” their oil reserves.

      As a taxpayer, I live a healthy lifestyle and have never made a health insurance claim, but I subsidize treatment for everybody else who develops health complications because of the pollution that internal combustion engines produce.

      Using resources indiscriminately is your prerogative, but it is not without consequence to others.

      Having said that, there are MUCH bigger problems in the world than worrying about your neighbors roof rack. Really.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        The manifold problems with foreign petroleum suppliers is why I support fracking to reduce/eliminate oil dependence and nuclear to provide power to charge all those electric cars coming our way. However, the fracking needs oversight and I don’t know if the Feds and the states are up to the task. Nuke has a generous amount of oversight already.

    • 0 avatar

      If it were up to me, I’d institute a revenue neutral carbon tax (to pay for the externalities of energy use) and let people decide what matters to them.

      But your characterization of NREL and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory as “do-gooder think tanks” is wrong. They are research ***laboratories***.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        To me, anything with “Berkeley” in the name is automatically associated with left-wing eco-terrorists.

        I admit to oftentimes painting with a broad brush, so I could be mistaken here. That said, it’s the DRIVER’S money to waste! There’s more precious petroleum wasted by said eco-warriors when they get together someplace in the world to wring their hands about Mother Earth while arriving in private jets which the proles will never be able to afford!

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          The liberal think tank where John Yoo taught? Berkeley? The Eco-terrorists from the Lawrence Radiation Labs who’s daughter lab in Livermore developed the warhead used on Polaris missiles? Yeah, those liberal PC goofs at Berkeley… Now the city government, that’s a bunch of f-tards, but don’t sully the labs or school based on the city government’s adventures in stupidity.

  • avatar
    DanyloS

    I know they can make life much more convenient or a vehicle much more useful but using a rack can be incredibly nerve wracking. Watching bicycles sway and twist in the wind. Associated new noises etc. I try and avoid using them unless absolutely necessary (enough people inside the vehicle that its necessary to put the toys on the outside).

    The ones I don’t get is when you see a pickup truck owner that has a hitch rack and an empty truck bed! Why buy the truck in the first place?!?

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Which racks have you used that “sway and twist in the wind”? I’ve had a plethora of racks over the years from trailer-hitch racks, to fork-mount, to wheel-mount, and even one of the suction-cup based mounts. They’ve all worked well enough that I don’t hesitate to put $5K+ bikes on them.

      As for why not put bikes in the car? Putting a muddy mountain bike inside the back is a great way to reduce the value of one’s vehicle. It’s also significantly less convenient to drop the seat, take off both wheels, and contort the handlebars to get everything to fit well in a smaller vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        I use a hard case for my road bike, but yeah, a muddy mountain bike is a different story. Not even sure a mountain bike would fit into a case and if it was muddy, you’d have to clean both the bike and case when you got home.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “The ones I don’t get is when you see a pickup truck owner that has a hitch rack and an empty truck bed! Why buy the truck in the first place?!?”

      Oh, how I agree with THIS statement!

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        The hitch rack is meant to hide the license plate from photo radar and red light cameras. This is an especially popular modification with the barge-class SUV crowd.

        Did you actually think it was for carrying stuff??

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Cool. I have a big ole surco rack on the top of my jeep with a hi lift and 31″ spare and Axe and shovel. I use it quite a bit, and when I haul loads I take that stuff off and fill it up with other things. With a lift and mud tires and all the performance mods my computer says 12.4 mpg and I’m fine with that. I love the extra space as I pack this thing to the brims and go on extended wilderness camping and I offroad every weekend. Although I am the exception, most racks I see are unused and unloved sitting on top of captivas and subarus

  • avatar

    Just calculated mine at about a 2% drop in economy. I have knock off Thule cross bars on my XC70 their a pain to take on and off (actual Thules would be better) so I leave them on even thou I use them about 6 times a year for canoes and lumber.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    i recall years ago when they recommended waxing your car regularly and removing the radio antenna to help aerodynamics. Driving smart and not being a speed demon is what saves gas

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Or you could use deturbulator tape to extend the laminar flow region and reduce aero drag. Drawbacks are you must keep the tape very clean, and, hell, you got tape all over your car. If they can overcome the cleanliness problems it would help with big rigs where nobody cares about their looks anyway.
      Similar approach has been used for sailplanes and Americas Cup boats some years ago. Neither of those applications has any relation to cost effectiveness….

      • 0 avatar

        “deturbulator” tape? do they use that for dynamizing the muffler bearings?

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Search it. The tape is micro-grooved to move the point of separation of flow further back along the vehicle. This reduces the aero drag by reducing the area subject to turbulent flow. Not real practical unless you are super OCD – or indulging in high dollar sports like sailplaning/gliding or yacht racing. I believe it was used for one go-around of America’s Cup racing, but you have to haul and clean the boat every race.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I wonder how much the truckers save with the aero pieces along the sides of the trailers which have popped up over the last few years. They go between the back wheels of the cab and the trailer wheels.

        • 0 avatar
          wstarvingteacher

          I think that the skirts and the foil on top of the cab do considerable good. I remember reading about a guy named Phil Knox that did all sorts of stuff on his T100. One key was that he cleaned up the undercarriage and that is essentially what the skirts you describe are doing. I am going to try to load a link but if it doesn’t work you can google with just that information.

          I found that a canoe causes very little loss because it’s so aerodynamic. On a trailer that is lower than my truck it is even better. I realized a long time ago that there was less penalty in using a trailer for almost anything if the load is well thought out.

          http://evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=774

  • avatar
    yamahog

    I hope most people think the most a policy should do is just inform consumers about the mileage penalty (with some sort of sticker on the roof rack) or encourage roof rack makers to design easy to install / remove racks (e.g the mfg gets to advertise it as an energy star roof rack).

    Beyond that, an additional 1% of fuel consumption is laughable when you think of all the other ‘unnecessary’ fuel consumption. Like AWD, SUVs, grippy tires, dirty air filters, ethanol blended into gas, et. al. If you really wanted to reduce fuel consumption, optimize the speed limits (so every road is closer to 55 mph), sync stop lights so people don’t spend minutes idling while no cross traffic exists, and kick emission standards back to 1980 levels. Or just tie usage tax to tailpipe emissions and let people figure it out.

    Heck, roof racks might even stop gas use. What about everyone who puts a roof rack on an Accord rather than getting a CR-V? Yeah, their Accord isn’t as efficient as it could be. But it’s more efficient than the alternative. And that’s the problem with the chicken tax/cafe, right? You can’t sell a 28 mpg Nissan Hardbody or Ford Ranger but a 22 mpg Dodge Ram is fine. Regardless of whether you use the incremental capacity of the ram. It’s that CAFE says a Nissan Hardbody would need to get 30 mpg but a Dodge Ram just needs to clear 20 mpg so if you need a truck, you need to get what they’re selling rather than what you want to buy.

    Just let people buy energy and use it how they want. The only role of the State (if any) is to help people understand that roof racks incur some mileage penalty.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “I hope most people think the most a policy should do is just inform consumers about the mileage penalty”

      Yes, but the informative warning should include language that insults the consumer’s intelligence, as should the warnings about top heavy vehicles being more rollover prone than low slung sports cars.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    You’re telling me that a recent, probably quite expensive study shows that physics, common sense and logic also applies to roof racks, and that people who have though roof racks ruin aerodynamics since whenever roof racks and aerodynamics were invented were actually right all along…
    Scientists are baffled…
    What’s next, round wheels are better than square ones?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      They have to do a study so they can justify more regulation.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Excellent point. Unfortunately, they can’t tell us what to do without beginning to seed public opinion through media. Look at the number of Prius’ versus the actual cost savings realized in fuel.

      Americans have stuff. They like having stuff. Yes, it’s silly to move stuff from one place to the other much of the time. Yet we do so, and we like to own vehicles that solve problems rather than create deficiencies.

      I come from 300 years of farmers, as many mid-westerners do. The second generation moved their entire lives down the Ohio on flatboats before 1800. That “I can take anything with me” attitude is baked into us once you leave the coasts for flyover land.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        And like I said above, one cannot help but assume a bias or subtle agenda seeing “Berkeley” and “[Society For] Renewable Fuels..” in the same name or sentence.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I wonder if carrying your bike using a trunk mount is also bad for your mileage?

    • 0 avatar

      I have been using a hitch mount for the last six years and I didn’t notice any difference. First, I wouldn’t notice a difference of 1% in anyway, as per the article, two I only use a fraction of the time, when I move the bikes.

      However, when I had a bike on the roof of my WRX, with front wheel attached, it acted like a sail during side winds and dropped my gas mileage by a lot on a 200 mile trip.

      • 0 avatar

        You should try putting kayaks on top of a car. GF got around 25mpg on a Corolla on the highway, not speeding.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          My 4Runner takes a modest hit in mpg with a 16 foot canoe on top, I find that if I’m driving primarily on secondary roads (55mph speed limit), it really doesn’t have too big of an effect. 70mph+ highway driving, you betcha. My worst was towing a sturdy Uhaul trailer with my old yamaha motorcycle (guesstimate it adding up to about 2000ish lb?) AND the canoe on top, AND my weight bench and two mountain bikes inside the truck. I was seeing about 13 mpg with that setup hauling from Central NY to Indiana.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I could either put a roof rack on my sedan or get a large van or SUV. I wonder which is more fuel efficient.

  • avatar
    kwong

    My wife’s got an OEM roof rack on her 07 Lexus Rx400h. The closest we ever got to using the rack was last weekend when I purchased a couple of 10ft long drop shade rolls; however, they fit on the inside with the rear seats down (with 5 inches to spare). I don’t think removing the rack will make much of a difference on her hybrid. She primarily drives in slow and go traffic and the car rarely sees an open highway. Her car has had a lifetime 28mpg over the 4 years that we’ve had the car. For road trips, we take my 16 year old TDI which nets 46mpg on biodiesel. It also has 225/45/17 summer tires and a 12% taller than OEM 5th gear set.

    On the subject of aerodynamics, I’d head the rear mounted bike carriers can actually improve aero while roof mounted racks create more turbulence and drag.

    • 0 avatar
      aeiou

      It really depends on your car. When I put on my trunk mounted bike rack on my 2012 Legacy it does bring down the mileage very significantly on the highway, so no, defiantly not better. I could see on some cars (wagons or hatchbacks mainly) that it might not make much of a difference, but sedans I would think anything back there is going to drag you down quite a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        It depends a lot on the shape of the vehicle and the type of rack. If you remember the 80’s vintage sedans with the ‘notchback’ roofline, tying luggage to the trunk-mounted rack could actually help the car’s aerodynamics by eliminating that low-pressure pocket of air against the back glass. Of course, one of the Thule-style pods would prove more efficient than a simple rectangular box.

        On the other hand, a fastback roof such as we see on most sedans today already eliminate that pocket so anything placed there adds to drag, not reduces it. Still, a bumper-mounted rack gets at least a part of your load out of the slipstream over the car, reducing the amount of drag as compared to having the whole thing in the slipstream.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Well, a trunk or bumper mount rack will sure screw up your bike when someone rear ends you even if they are traveling so slow it would only make a mark on the bumper. I don’t like the idea of using a $1000 bike to protect my bumpers.

    I drove for almost 30 years in Texas and I have seen too many rear endings by uninsured motorists who abandon ship and run off down the street, to want to carry my stuff hanging out behind the car. I would rather rely on myself not to drive under something too low, than to rely on someone else to not bump me from behind.

    As far as fuel consumption, when you show me the alternative that does not adversely affect fuel consumption, I will take it seriously. Buying a bigger car, or putting greasy bikes into my new car, or risking a rear-end, are not suitable alternatives.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I put my road bike into a bike case with the wheels off, then put it into the car. Clean and neat.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I see your point about getting rear-ended by an uninsured driver and it ruining your nice bike.

      On the other hand, if you have a not-so-nice bike hanging back there then there is a small chance one of the pedals might poke a hole in the meth-addled offender’s radiator. I know that would give me a small measure of satisfaction.

  • avatar

    This phenomena reminds me of Apple and their iPhones. They spend millions to slim it down and contour every edge to fit into this beautifully machined aluminum body that’s truly a work of art.

    …and then people stuff it into a gigantic rubberized case they bought on Amazon for 10 bucks.

    The only difference is that I think roof racks actually make some cars look sporty-er.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      Thank you beater for your iphone case comment. Honey are you reading this? See I’m not the only person in America who refuses to put my sleek phone in a crappy bulky case.

      And as for the roof rack, I am AOK with them as long as you either use them (about 2% of Americans or perhaps 10% of Subaru owners)or acknowledge that they are a fashion statement mainly intended to generate revenue for dealerships

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      If I went without a case on mine, I’d probably be on my second or worse because the phone is slippery! And at $850 or whatever to replace the 128GB 6s, I’ll take a slightly chunky Griffen Survivor “overlay” (with a screen protector made of the same Gorilla Glass as the screen itself) to absorb the shocks and jolts!

      (Though the black case is a little monotone-looking against the black front of the Space Gray iPhone — next time, I’ll go with a grayish case.)

  • avatar
    TR4

    Not news. My father used to fret about the additional fuel consumption while using a roof rack on his Wolseley 6/80 in the early 60s.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Here is my setup for my FR-S. Rear mount FTW. Near zero impact to aero when there isn’t a bike on there and it disassembles in around 5 minutes and fits in my trunk.

    http://i624.photobucket.com/albums/tt327/wvuQuentin/IMG_8614_zpssqi9xirt.jpg

    http://i624.photobucket.com/albums/tt327/wvuQuentin/887C115A-22BC-4CC4-85BE-7A0EE97254EC_zpsw7j7mwib.jpg

    It is essentially the same idea that BMW uses on several models.

  • avatar

    I am actively shopping for a cargo box for the roof of my 4Runner, desperately trying to find the one that won’t be loud, won’t block sunroof, won’t interfere with rear hatch, will mount to factory cross bars, will swallow up all my stuff, won’t kill the gas mileage (not that we drive much) and look cool.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      What about a hitch platform? I have a 2016 4Runner and while the racks look very cool, my 5’8″ frame has a hard time accessing the roof and I don’t want to negatively impact fuel economy any more than I need to.

      • 0 avatar

        Bikes will be on the hitch. Roof box for summer use when extra cargo space in needed and winter for skis.

        My 4Runner has a third row seat which we use all the time to drive other people’s kids around. Unfortunately that kills the trunk space.

        I’m 6’2″ and have rock slider with steps on the side, or can stand on tires.

        • 0 avatar
          robert_h

          Kamil, We use a Yakima RocketBox 12 on our 4Runner. I love it. It mounts on the factory bars, and makes no noticeable wind noise. There’s some impact on fuel economy- I’d guess we drop from 20 mpg to 18.5 at highway speeds. It blocks about half of the sunroof. It holds a ton of camping gear out of the weather.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’m also beginning to study up on external cargo carrying options. I’m packed to capacity as it is in my ’96 with 2 larger dogs and gear when we go camping or pack to visit family for the holidays. I can’t see how it’s possible to add a carseat+ baby things to all of this. Rear hitch mount sounds appealing in terms of keeping the weight low, not affecting aerodynamics both in terms of fuel economy and preventing the truck from acting like even more of a sail in crosswinds than it already does. Of course, loading a lot of weight biased so far rearward of the rear axle isn’t exactly great either. My manaully adjustable air shocks can only do so much to help mitigate that issue.

            Starting to looking at first gen Sequoias now: 67 cu ft of cargo space behind the second row vs 45 that I have currently, and way more passenger room (especially in terms of width), and not to mention the presence of LATCH anchors.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Per yesterday, Ford makes billions selling an ecoboosted solution, to problems requiring boxes and racks simultaneously both on top of and behind more normal sized cars…… At the kind of speeds a boxes-and-racks-everywhere 4Runner would be comfortable on the freeway, a 2.7 Crewcab will net better than 4Runner mileage. And, neither 4runners nor F150s ever depreciate much, so they’re both easy to swap back and forth depending on need.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    How much did they pay to complete this study?

    Of course adding extraneous things that hang out in the wind increase drag and decrease fuel economy.

    It’s not rocket appliances.

    I’m still not putting my dirty bike inside my hatchback after I’m done riding.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    There was no noticeable difference in my fuel economy when I added my roof rack. That being said, I have a kayak I have to transport somehow. Either I put a roof rack on my fuel efficient economy car, or I buy a far less efficient truck or SUV to carry it in a bed or tow a trailer. Saves far more fuel buying the car with the roof rack than the truck.

  • avatar

    Irony I noticed: I frequently see large cargo boxes on top of the roofs of Priuses (Prii?).

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Safari basket FTW.

    Yep, that’s right. Just add Land Cruiser.

    Switching gears here… nothing grinds my gears worse than cars with large, large surface-area roofs, yet not even a factory roof rack.

    Why???

    A roof is a terrible thing to waste.

    • 0 avatar

      Noisy little effers, those baskets.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      My Land Cruiser had a factory rack, but it was pretty worthless. FWIW I went from 12MPG on the highway to like 11 with the basket only on. The rest of the armor put it deep into single digits though.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        “Switching gears here… nothing grinds my gears worse than cars with large, large surface-area roofs, yet not even a factory roof rack.”

        When I was shopping for a 3-row CUV I refused to buy one without a factory roof rack. If I’m going to drive a station wagon in hooker heels then damn right I’m going to have a rack to take advantage of all that roof area like my forefathers did in their wood paneled wagons.

        So what if I use it once a year? Every CUV/SUV without a factory rack looks just a little bit more foolish than it does with one.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          On the Land Cruiser a non-roofrack equipped rig is a great find. The problem is that most of the FJ80’s came to the US without them, and the anti-theft system and some other things. But because of the draconian way Toyota imported cars at the time they got these options added at the port. The “factory” rack was not very good and removing it for a real rack is a complete PITA. My roof had the paint coming off and was getting the ol’ white bedliner treatment so all the crap that I put up there inflicted minimal damage so removal wasnt bad, but if you werent doing all that it was a pain and the rack itself was garbage. I think it was like 30 pounds…on a Land Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Now, can we also talk about the gall of manufacturers who DO have factory racks, to charge you EXTRA for the freaking crossbars?!?! Don’t tell me it’s some CAFE driven nonsense.

      Subaru has it all figured out: crossbars that fold into the rails as standard equipment.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    How much of a fine will it be for my kids to have their windows down with their hands playing in the slipstream?

  • avatar
    strafer

    Only reason why I still drive my Element, my mountain bike fits upright with both wheels on.

    • 0 avatar
      V4Rider

      I wanted to hate them when I first started looking at cars, then I bought one. Seriously the best car I’ve ever owned. I routinely carry my two German Shepherds, have carried my XR250L enduro, a 73″ long futon, a fridge, at one point all the stuff I owned in college…

      I love my toaster but even then you can’t deny roof racks look great on them.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Great article! It’s all too true that roof racks and other appendages cause drag and lower efficiency. I wonder how many liberals with roof racks will now freak out when they learn what they’re doing?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Although the figure is surprisingly high, it still seems like small potatoes.

    That said, I don’t see the attraction of a roof rack for bikes, anyway. It’s certain to affect fuel economy, so why not use a hitch rack? And a friend of mine, returning from a biking expedition, forgot that he had the bikes on the roof, as he entered his garage…

  • avatar
    Fred

    On 40hp VW Beetles with the rack installed you could feel the drag slowing you down. Soon as you were done with it you took it off. Often times loaning it to a friend and never seeing it again.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Anticipating this: some factory roof racks are fairly minimal, with optional crossbars such as Kia & Hundai CUVs. You pay additional up front, in addition to every time you drive.

    And then there’s the Honda Odyssey, where the (ugly) roof rails and crossbars are accessories, not standard on any trim level.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Solution: Energy Star stickers for roof racks – Let the commerce begin!

    Or, just mandate that when the roof rack is unladen, it bangs on your roof at over 30MPH.

    And for that matter, why not make tires that start to howl like the Hounds of Hell when they’re a couple of PSI low.

    Get with the thinking, people!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I’d be happy if the automakers didn’t have to specify papier-mache windshields in the name of fuel-efficiency!

      My Accord’s windshield was replaced last summer after a rock hit just right and the crack spread — this after having to stare through a repair directly in my line of sight for the better part of a year or so! Then just yesterday, I discovered yet another small chip which will need repair, thankfully not in line-of-sight! :-p

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “The study finds that 0.8 percent of light-duty vehicle fuel consumption in 2015 can be tied to the aerodynamic drag these racks asserted on the cars carrying them.”

    I can’t see how they reached that number. The study showed that empty racks increase fuel consumption by a couple percent at 55 mph. They also found that about 3% of cars are driving around with empty racks. So 3% of cars are taking a 2% penalty. How does that equate to 0.8% of fuel consumption across the whole fleet?

  • avatar

    Perhaps this line could be clearer:

    “Roof rack ranks are expected to grow 200 percent between now and 2040.”

    Is the size of roof racks expected to grow (I think not, although by 2040 I may be too old to give a rat’s @ss) or is the use of them expected to grow?

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Though “ranks” is seldom used for inanimate objects, it was clear to me that it was the subject of that sentence and “Roof racks” its modifiers.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Bad news: bike racks are bad for the environment.

    Good news: if you’re in the market for a lightly used Subaru with an easily removable roof rack, 50,000 of them just went on the market in Boulder, Colorado after their owners’ heads collectively exploded.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Have a roof rack on my Mini Cooper S with which i carry my bike to various areas on the weekend. During the week i leave the racks on the car and am usually doing 70 sometime 80 MPH on the highway and i still get 32-33 MPG. They are factory racks and make very little noise when unloaded. When the season is over i take off the racks and install my snow tires.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Or, you know, auto makers could also plan around people adding racks to their cars. I know, crazy thought!

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Well Duh!

    The smoothed out shape is just to keep the freaking government ideologues happy.

    Then the owners fix up the cars the way THEY want. Sick to death of the government worrying about every quarter mpg. Screw off. There is nothing more dangerous than a do-gooder with government power.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Of course there will be more roof racks. Quit with the insane sloping rooflines on everything so that the cargo area is useful and fewer people will need one. I believe this is what is refereed to as an unintended consequence.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Yes ! What we need is a new federal agency ! The Bureau of Roof rack, Ski rack, and Bicycle racks. With a starting budget of $120 Billion per year. Appoint Chelsea Clinton as First Commissar !

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Will your future include being pulled over and ticketed for having an empty roof rack? If these guys have their way, you’re damn right it will.”

    Statism, its whats for dinner.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Most of the ski and bike racks I see are on relatively efficient vehicles, so I rather doubt they have the large impact these aspiring tyrants think they do. Diminishing a Mini Cooper or Mazda 3’s fuel economy by 5% isn’t going to make a bit of difference relative to fuel wasted on ethanol, or commuting in F150s, or driving any other vehicles so big you can carry two mountain bikes inside them. These worthless burdens to society need to have their funding yanked.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    This group would hate me with an LR3 with a canoe rack on top and a bike rack on the back. On the flip side I do these outdoor activities for good health and therefore keep medical costs down. It’s all relative. What is next….going after pickups and SUV’s with only one occupant?

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Reason 3 for loving hatch backs. Most of my stuff is easier to get in the car. I hate external racks for skis as the road salt does a number on the edges and can’t help the bindings. I have noticed over the years that an empty rack has a ~5% decrease in mileage. Skis in rack make that 5-10%. If you really want to do it however my 19′ canoe can be an over 25% drop on a windy day.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    I have a Yakima rack on my 2011 Fit that I use a few times every summer to carry a kayak. This type of rack is held in place by model-specific precisely measured placement of the “Q-tower” brackets in the gap between the roof and the doors, held in place by tensioning the brackets on the rigid crossbars. Once properly mounted, it’s very solid. Repeated removal and reinstallation, in addition to being very time-consuming, would introduce a risk of incorrect reinstallation and possible failure on the road.

  • avatar
    jbigda

    I think that fining people for not removing their roof racks might be a little extreme. That would be just like fining people for modifying their car in any way. Change your wheels fined, change your grill fined, add some truck nuts.. okay you should be fined for that but that’s not the point. I understand them wanting to help the environment, but I don’t think punishing people for forgetting to remove their racks is the answer.

  • avatar
    mcnabb100

    The 95 grand prix we used have still got 28-30mpg with a yakima bike rack. We never had a reason to take it off.

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