Can My Car Support a Rooftop Tent? 

When you are looking to make your way into the great outdoors by tent camping, you may find yourself drawn to all the different perks offered through rooftop tents. Rooftop tents, by nature, must be mounted on the roof of a car, which may leave you wondering if your car can support it.

A car can support a rooftop tent so long as the roof has side rails, crossbars, gutters, tracks, or fixed points. You should also never exceed the dynamic or static weight limits and should always be sure to purchase and install an aftermarket roof rack before installing your rooftop tent.

There are so many different advantages that come along with using a rooftop tent, but one of the greatest ones is that where your car is, there you can camp. This is possible through the innovative design that rooftop tents implement, as they are installed and used on the roof of your actual vehicle. If you have a car that may be on the fence as far as support capabilities go, take a look below to find out what your car needs to be able to support a rooftop tent. 

What Does Your Car Need to Support a Rooftop Tent? 

No matter what vehicle you are driving, there are certain things that you must have in order to support a rooftop tent safely. When you think of it, rooftop tents come with quite a heavy load when you consider the weight of the actual tent, the weight of the accessories that have to be installed to support the tent, and then the weight of the users as well as their equipment once the tent is in use. Take a look below to find out what a car needs to support a rooftop tent. 

No Bare Roofs Allowed 

Outside of the weight capacity of your car (we’ll get to this later), the most important thing that your vehicle must have is a factory installed support system on the roof. This means that no matter what the dynamic or static weight limit of your roof is, you must have some type of support system that was installed during production to be able to hold the aftermarket rack that is required to support your rooftop tent, making bare roofs completely incompatible. 

If you have a car with a bare roof, it is not compatible with a rooftop tent. Your vehicle must have either side rails, crossbars, gutter, tracks, or should be a roof that has fixed points. If the roof of your car does not have any of these features, you will not be able to install a rooftop tent. 

You may be thinking “But the weight capacity of my roof is large enough to support a rooftop tent!” Although this may be true, there must be a support system for the aftermarket rack that is installed when you attach your rooftop tent. If these supports do not exist, there is nothing for the aftermarket rack to attach to, which causes the security and stability of your rooftop tent to be completely compromised. If you have a bare roof, a rooftop tent simply isn’t possible. 

Don’t Exceed the Dynamic Weight 

If you are looking at your car and know that there is a factory installed support system on its roof, you may be thinking that you are in the clear to go ahead and install a rooftop tent. Before you get to ordering though, you need to figure out what the dynamic weight load of your vehicle is. If this is the first time you have ever heard this term, you may be wondering what its relevance is, but take a look below to find out why the dynamic weight limit is so important. 

The dynamic weight limit of your car is the weight your vehicle is able to carry on the roof when in motion. This is important because if you have a dynamic weight limit of 165 pounds or less, you should not install a rooftop tent onto your vehicle for safety and protection reasons. 

Rooftop tents can weigh well over 200 pounds, and when your car is in motion, it is more susceptible to damage or uncontrolled movements, especially when there is heavy-weight on its roof. Therefore, check your owner’s manual to see what the dynamic weight limit of your car is, then be sure to see how much the rooftop tent you are considering purchasing (or currently own) weighs. This will determine whether or not your car can carry a rooftop tent. 

Don’t Exceed the Static Weight 

Now that you know your car has a weight limit to its roof when it is in motion, it is important to also understand that your vehicle has a weight limit when it is stationary. Luckily, the static weight limit of many vehicles is quite a bit higher than their dynamic weight limit which is what makes it possible for rooftop tents to function successfully. If you are considering installing a rooftop tent, take a look below to see why the static weight limit matters as well. 

The static weight limit of a car involves how much weight the roof of the vehicle can handle when it is stationary. This means that you must calculate the weight of your rooftop tent, the weight of the aftermarket rack, the weight of those in it as well as gear to know if the weight is safe. 

Just as you can find the dynamic weight of your vehicle within your owner’s manual, also look there to find what the static weight of your vehicle is. This weight should be quite a bit more than the dynamic weight load, but always be sure that you have calculated all the weight that will be on the roof of your car once you have your rooftop tent popped up and in use. If the weight is exceeded, it can cause structural problems to your car, resulting in potential damage. 

Purchase an Aftermarket Roof Rack 

If you are looking at your car and you see that there is a factory support system installed (whether that be side rails, crossrails, or any others) and you also know the dynamic and static weight limits of the roof or your car, you may be thinking that all is there for things to go as smoothly as possible when you are camping. However, there is one last thing you are going to need before installing a rooftop tent and that is an aftermarket roof rack.  

An aftermarket roof rack is an essential purchase when it comes to installing a rooftop tent, as this rack works as the main support system for when large amounts of weight are placed on the roof. Without an aftermarket roof rack, your tent will cave and sit directly on the roof of your car. 

An aftermarket roof rack attaches to the factory installed support systems that are already attached to your vehicle. Because of this, the rack uses those support systems to secure onto and receive support from, but the roof rack itself can hold more weight more securely without wavering. Be advised, the static and dynamic weight load are still the primary consideration, even if you have a roof rack that supports more weight, do not exceed those limitations. 

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