Can I Go Through A Carwash with A Roof Rack?

Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Will Sabel

We all know roof racks are great for providing the extra storage you need to fit all your camping stuff, luggage, surfing boards, etc. It can be tempting never to take it off your car roof if you’re a frequent traveler. But is it safe to wash your vehicle with an installed roof rack? Before going through a carwash, you’re probably thinking can I go through a carwash with a roof rack? 

As long as the authority allows it, you can go through a car wash with a roof rack. However, experts say it’s not a good idea as it might ruin the car’s surface and roof rack components. Also, the cleaning will be improper and any trapped moisture can cause rust on the surface. Anyway, hand washing or touch-less car washes can be a better option.

Should You Go for a Carwash with Roof Racks Installed

Can you go through a carwash with a roof rack? Yes, but you must remember that not all vehicles are built the same. So, some will face issues if they go through a carwash with mounted roof racks, and some won’t. Here’s what might happen if you don’t take off the rack while washing your car-

Improper Cleaning

No matter what type of carwash you choose, there’s always a chance some places under the crossbars or pads of the roof racks will remain uncleaned. Sometimes roof rack components don’t allow the soap, water, or chemicals to pass.

As a result, dirt and grime keep building up in those areas until you clean them by hand.

Damages Your Car Surface

It’s not a good idea to keep the roof racks permanently mounted. While going through an automatic or soft-touch carwash, the brushes or cloth applicators might get tangled with the roof rack.

This, along with the hidden dirt buildup, will eventually cause scratches on the car surface and damage the paint.

Might Cause Rust and Corrosion

Water may get trapped under the rack bars if a larger rack is installed on. It doesn’t allow for proper drying on the surface beneath. The trapped moisture will eventually cause rust and corrosion of your car surface.

Fitting Issues

Roof racks add about 5 inches extra height to your vehicle. As we all know, car washes have a height limit. With the roof rack on, your car might cross that height limit, and the roof rack will damage the car washing equipment when you try to fit it in.

Although this problem isn’t very common for smaller or medium vehicles, you need to be extra careful with the larger ones.

Loosen the Roof Rack

Car washing equipment includes brushes, straps, or cloth applicators. Too often, these applicators get stuck to the cross bars or rack tower and loosen or rip off the rack parts.

This way, your roof rack, car finish, and Overlanding gear are harmed.

How to Safely Go Through A Carwash with Roof Racks Installed?

If you’re determined to keep the roof rack on, some tips might help get the car washing done with minimal damage. Here’s what you can do to go through a carwash with roof racks safely-

Go for Touchless Car Wash

touchless car wash

Can you go through touchless car wash with roof rack? Yes, you can, and it’s a better option. No brush or straps are used in a touchless car wash. Only water and cleaning chemicals are sprayed on the vehicle under high pressure.

So, the chances of damage are minimal. However, you should still make sure the area under the roof rack is thoroughly cleaned.

Hand Wash Your Vehicle

Although touchless wash is better than other carwash options, it has some cons too. The best way to clean your car with a roof rack is to wash it by hand.

This will allow you to use your preferred cleaners and be gentle on the roof rack components. Also, you’ll be able to easily reach the tricky areas under the rack and avoid related damage.

Let It Completely Dry

To prevent rust and corrosion, you must let the car dry out completely. It will prevent moisture and maintain the paint and finish of your car.

Also, before you leave the carwash, try to be sure all the dirt and grime have been removed from the roof rack area.

Final Words

Can roof racks go through a carwash? There you have the answer. Car experts have different opinions on this topic. Many users have been going through a carwash with a roof rack without any problem.

But, some have ended up damaging their vehicles. So, it’s better to take off the roof rack. Otherwise, follow my tips to make sure your car remains safe during the cleaning process.

carwash with roof rack

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Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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