Best Position For A Roof Box On A Car


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Cargo boxes are a great way to provide more cargo space in your car, and it’s relatively cheap and easy to install. However, installing at the wrong position on your vehicle will impact a car’s aerodynamic performance and eventually lead to higher fuel consumption.

So, what is the best position for a roof box on a car? For the best stability with the least amount of wind resistance and drag, ideally, the cargo box should be mounted centrally and towards the rear of your car.

In this article, we provide you with some advice on how to position your cargo box correctly on a car and the impact of the cargo box positioning.

Let’s get into it!

Where Should A Roof Box Be Positioned On A Car?

Best Position For A Roof Box On A Car

Ideally, the best position to install your roof box is at the center of the crossbars and slightly adjusted towards the rear of your car. 

With your cargo box positioned at the central area of the crossbars, it will add stability to the car when your cargo box is fully loaded. 

If you have a dual-side opening cargo box like Thule cargo boxes, positioning it at the center will make it easier for loading and unloading from either side.

In addition to that, it would be best to position the cargo box slightly backward, closer to the vehicle’s back.

Mounting the cargo box at this position will improve aerodynamics and inspire airflow around the box. Also, it is where the least amount of wind resistance and drag for the fuel usage.

Many cargo boxes have aerodynamic and sleek designs that help reduce those issues but positioning the cargo box in the correct position will significantly help better gas mileage. 

Can The Roof Box Be Positioned To One Side?

Absolutely! You can position your cargo box to one side, especially when you have a passenger-side opening cargo box like Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box.

Mounting your cargo box to the passenger side will make your family members or friends quickly access essential items from the cargo box during the brief stop on the road trip.

Positioning the cargo box to one side can benefit someone with a narrow cargo box like SportRack Horizon Cargo Box or similar models. Because of its narrow width, you still have some space on the rooftop for carrying bikes or kayaks.

However, mounting the cargo box on one side can potentially have some issues (read below).

Some Impacts You Need To Know When Positioning The Cargo Box

Having a cargo box installed on your car’s rooftop will have some impacts and concerns for many cargo box owners, particularly the wind noise and gas mileage.

Also, the vehicle design contributes to the overall aerodynamic performance of a car. A hatchback car (like Subaru Outback or Honda CR-V) will perform differently than Honda Odyssey or Audi Q5.

Positioning the cargo box at different positions on the rooftop can have some impacts as follow:

  • Centrally: The most ideal and recommended location where the roof box should be placed for better performance. Moreover, it is best for even weight distribution when fully loaded. It might not be ideal for those who have a passenger-side opening cargo box.
  • One side (usually the passenger side): It’s ideal for the passenger-side opening cargo box for easy loading and unloading. It allows some spaces on another side for additional gears like bikes. But, it is poor regarding weight distribution which can impact the overall safety.
  • Far Forward: How far forward should a roof box be? Mounting the cargo box too much forward or overhang can impact the stability of your car. It also reduces the aerodynamic effects because it increases the airflow resistance from the front windshield.
  • Far Backward: One of the problems when positioning the cargo box far towards your rear is that it can interfere with the rear hatch when it is fully opened. It is true for hatchback cars. Moreover, it also causes interference with a rear antenna.

How To Install Your Roof Box On Car

The video below shows you how to install crossbars and a cargo box on a car properly. (It’s about 4.47 minutes long video)

What’s The Best Position For A Roof Box On A Car?

We’ve shown you the best position for a roof box on your car. For the best stability with the least amount of wind resistance and drag, a roof box should be mounted centrally and towards the rear of your vehicle

Of course, it’s entirely up to you to decide how and where you want to install it that suits your needs better. If you are unsure to do it yourself, always ask someone or the dealer that you’ve bought the cargo box for help. 

Also, check out our article on using a car-top carrier without a roof rack.