pros and cons of having a roof top box on your car or suv

Pros of roof boxes

They look good and they last for a long time

Before getting into the world of roof boxes, I was worried that they would ruin the look of my care, at the time I wasn’t really wrong, some older designs were primarily made for practicality in mind.

But today, you can find some futuristic-looking roof boxes like Thule Force XT or Thule Motion XT, in fact, these roof boxes improve the look and feel of your car or SUV even more, in addition to the aerodynamic design and the improved anti-theft security, these are the best roof boxes that money can buy.

They are also a great investment, a typical roof cargo boxes can last for years, the exact number will be different from box to box, and how you are using it, the previously mentioned boxes can last for more than 15 years, but if you are pushing them to their weight limits, their durability will be affected.

All this for a price that will almost never pass the 1000$ mark, some of them might seem like they are not worth the price, but with the ability to use them in multiple vehicles, they are totally worth it. 

Harsh weather conditions can also affect other parts like the security or the mounting systems.

Most of the hardshell boxes are waterproof and UV resistant and are built using high durability materials, the high-quality ones like the ones mentioned above can last for a long time while conserving their sleek look (colors don’t fade, the mounting system is sturdy, and the structure is durable).

But we should note that all these good points are only applicable for hard shell roof boxes if you choose to have a roof bag things might be different.

Roof bags are fixed on the roof using belts, the durability of these belts is not that great, especially against the sun, they can break easily if you put too much luggage inside the bag.

Also, even if a lot of the manufacturers of these roof bags claim that they made their products to be waterproof, we found that in real life, they can leak some water inside, a bad idea if you have any type of electronics there.

But they will be a good choice for transporting snowboards or skis, especially with the combination with their low cost.

More freedom of choice when buying a car

There are many great cars on the market, great in terms of fuel economy or safety, etc…

But the problem is that many of these vehicles have a limited cargo capacity, a Skoda Yeti, for example, it is a great car but many people will ignore it because of the storage size issue.

This is where a roof box comes in rescue, you need to ask the manufacturer of your vehicle if it can fit a roof rack if the answer is positive, then traveling with a car with a small trunk is not a problem anymore.

All you have to do is to check the roof weight capacity, choose a good roof box and you are free to go on your vacation while using all the vehicle internal space to you.

Each roof box will have its own cargo capacity, generally between 7 to 25 cubic feet of extra space that can be useful in many ways.

You can take all your friends or family members with you while having your skiis or your camping gear and luggage on the top.

We get many questions about how to fit snowboards or skiis on a car or an SUV, but most cars that we tested can meet those requirements, you can either fit them inside a cargo box or simply fix them directly to your roof rack, if you are looking for a cheaper alternating you can have a roof bag, most of them can get the job done.

Cons of having a roof box


Comfort is an important reason to get a roof box, the extra space provided is great, but the truth is that many roof boxes on the market reduce that comfort level because of the high noise levels generated.

The whistling level will change depending on the brand of the roof box, the aerodynamic shape and also the way it is fixed to the vehicle.

If the design of the cargo box that you are planning to get is not aerodynamic, it will disturb the airflow, the result is a sound generated at a high speed, this whistling sound level will differ depending on your speed.

You also need to think about the compatibility between the roof box and the crossbars, any small misalignment can result in vibrations that will harm both the integrity of the roof box and the roof rack, and will also produce an annoying noise, and can be dangerous too.

Some brands are optimized for a low noise level, and some are not.

Optimized roof boxes are extremely quiet, and you will often forget that you have one at all.

Before buying a roof box, you need to search for the best options available for your specific vehicle. We have some guides and reviews performed by our experts, but we cannot review every roof box on every can out there.

Anyway, the majority of roof boxes will start whistling when you go above a speed of 80mph or 128.7km.

You can check your roof to see if everything is secured properly and there are mounted correctly before using a roof box.

Increased fuel consumption

Every roof cargo box will increase your fuel consumption, but the exact amount will be different following many factors, for example, the shape of the roof box (aerodynamics), weight …

Multiple governmental tests included that you can have 20% to 30% of miles per gallon reduction while using a roof box.

The shape of the roof box will increase the air resistance, and by result, the engine of your car needs to work harder to compensate for that and to get to the same speed, many manufacturers like Thule or INNO works hard to design roof boxes with a low and optimized profile to get as much less drag as possible.

The type of your vehicle is also a fact, it can be aerodynamic, but in combination with a specific carrier box, your car design and the roof box shape will produce a large amount of air resistance.

But still, you can’t simply change physics, a roof cargo box will always increase your fuel consumption and the higher your speed is the higher this consumption will be.

The same thing can be said about the extra weight, many roof carriers are made using hard materials, some of these can be heavy, and if you count the luggage inside, you can have up to 20% higher fuel bill in some cases, you can check this list of roof boxes with low fuel consumption.

The best solution for this issue is to do some research about the performance effect of a box on your vehicle, and it is a good idea to remove the roof box (especially the non-aerodynamic ones) from your roof when you don’t need it.

A roof box can affect your insurance

Many car insurance agencies consider the added roof box to be a vehicle modification, you should always check with your insurance to check if that is the case or not.

If that is the case then you need to ask for a new insurance contract or to update the existing one, a roof cargo box is often considered to be an added risk to the vehicle.

Some companies will also change their contact with you depending on the type of box that you have, a hard shell roof box is a different deal than the soft shell ones, and the same is said for roof bags and roof tents.

The good thing now is that you have the knowledge of this fact, but it is surprising to see the huge number of people that go for a trip and when their car gets damaged (sometimes because of roof box), the insurance company will refuse to pay for any compensation, the reason “vehicle modification”.

This advice is also applicable in the case of roof racks (crossbars), always consult with your own insurance company before getting a new one, most good ones do cover these minor modification, you might consider changing your current insurance provider if necessary. 

The negative part of this process is the potential insurance cost increase, some companies in the UK or the US can ask for a fee triple times bigger for a car with a roof box than a can without one.

FAQ about the pros and cons of roof boxes

⭐ What are the types of roof cargo carriers?

There are two types of rooftop carriers, hard shell, and soft shell, hard shell carriers have more durability and require a roof rack to be installed, and they are generally more expensive, why the soft shell ones are cheaper, and only need roof rails to be attached to the car.

⭐Do roof boxes increase fuel consumption?

Yes, but the amount why be different from each roof carrier, the additional weight, and the aerodynamics can have an effect on your final gas bill, check our article for roof boxes with low fuel consumption.

⭐ Is it ok to keep a car roof cargo box attached at all times?

If you have a roof bag (soft shell carrier) then no, it is not a good idea to keep it all the time, but if you have a high-quality hardshell roof box like the ones produced by Yakima or Thule, then it is ok to keep them during the whole year.