Are Rooftop Tents Bad For Your Car?

Rooftop tents offer versatility, accessibility to nature, and the ability to pack up and unpack your tent with much more ease than any ground tent counterpart. However, when it comes to your car, are they ok to mount on top and will they cause damage? 

Rooftop tents are not bad for your car as long as you do not exceed your vehicle’s static and dynamic weight limits. If these are exceeded, it can not only cause damage to the roof of your car but could cause the tent to dismount when your car is in motion, making it a major safety issue.

Rooftop tents are adventurous, fun, and offer a new style of camping that not only looks great, but keeps you protected as well. However, when it comes to installing your rooftop tent, you may be wondering if this is something that is ok for your car to handle. If you have reservations about whether or not rooftop tents are good for your vehicle, take a look below to find out what makes them safe and how you can ensure your vehicle is protected. 

How To Keep Your Car Safe When Installing a Rooftop Tent 

When it comes to rooftop tents, one of the most important aspects is how well your car is able to handle the load. Especially when you have a smaller vehicle, it may cause concern when you have a 100 to 200-pound tent going on top of it to travel here, there, and everywhere. However, there are a few ways that you can keep your car safe before ever installing a rooftop tent. To find out these ways, take a look below. 

Consider Your Cars Dynamic Weight 

© Hamid Tajik 

It is no secret that any item is able to carry more weight when it is still than when in motion – the same goes for your car. When your car is in motion, it is more vulnerable which means that it is not able to carry as heavy a load as if it were to be parked. The weight your car is able to carry when in motion is called dynamic weight, and it is one of the most important factors you need to consider before installing a rooftop tent. 

The dynamic weight limit is the highest amount of weight that a vehicle can hold when it is in motion. This means that, in order to protect your car, you should not install a rooftop tent that exceeds this weight limit. Even more, you should not add additional supplies that exceed it either.

Of course, you are going to have to check to make sure the weight of your tent does not exceed the dynamic weight limit of your car. However, another thing that you must consider to keep your car safe is how much more weight is going to be put on once you have the tent installed. Many rooftop tents are capable of doubling as storage space when you are travelling, therefore, be sure you don’t exceed the dynamic weight by adding more supplies. 

Consider Your Cars Static Weight 

© Jorgen Hendriksen

Of course, your car is capable of only so much weight when it is in motion. Not only does this protect your car, but it also protects those around you when driving to prevent any type of accident due to items lost. However, when your car is parked and not in motion, it is able to carry a load that is much heavier than its dynamic weight capabilities. This is referred to as a car’s static weight and allows campers a bit more freedom when it comes to weight.

A car’s static weight is the weight it is able to carry when parked, and this weight is always quite a bit more than what it is capable of when it is in motion. This weight is what you need to consider when you factor in body weight as well as equipment once you get everything into your rooftop tent.

Therefore, not only do you need to consider the weight of your rooftop tent for your car’s static weight, but you need to also take into account how much you and other campers weigh, how much your equipment weighs that is going into the tent, along with other items that might add to this number. It is important to try not to push this weight limit, but always aim to keep it under the max dynamic weight of your car to avoid any type of damage. 

Find the Dynamic and Static Weight Limit of Your Car 

© Uriel Mont 

Now that you know of your car’s two weight limits to consider, you may be wondering how to find this type of information. Some may be inclined to skip this step and simply go forward with assuming what they think their car is capable of as far as weight goes, however, knowing the exact number is essential to not only your car’s safety but to your safety as well. Knowing this, where exactly can you find what dynamic and static weight limits your car has? 

To find your car’s dynamic and static weight limits, you will need to locate the operating manual of your car. Here you should be able to find both weight limits and should keep note of them in order to base your future purchases on rooftop tents off of.  

As briefly noted previously, it is essential to keep these weight limits at the forefront of your mind before purchasing and loading up a rooftop tent. Remember that these numbers are the maximum weight that your car is capable of carrying and supporting. Therefore, try to keep each weight limit under the maximum amount to avoid denting the roof of your car or causing any structural issues to your rooftop tent due to rooftop weight problems. 

Consider Installing an Aftermarket Roof Rack 

© Thule

If you have a vehicle that is older or smaller, you may be worried about the capabilities of the racks on it, or its lack of racks. Roof racks must be present to hold the weight of a rooftop tent and offer a place to secure the equipment to. If you notice that your racks are not able to carry the weight of the rooftop tent you are looking for or that your car does not have roof racks, you can easily make your car capable of carrying the tent by installing aftermarket roof racks. 

Aftermarket roof racks are typically capable of holding more weight than those that come standard with your vehicle. Therefore, they can make it possible for your car to carry a rooftop tent without having to worry so much about weight. However, be sure your racks can support the aftermarket racks. 

Aftermarket racks will typically be installed on top of older racks, but it is important to install racks that will not damage your current ones. More specifically, if you have weak racks that will bend with the presser administered when installing screws on the new rack, this can cause damage to the structural integrity of the original racks, making the new installation pointless. Lighter aftermarket racks can be a great way to avoid this issue. 

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