Tesla Motors is known to provide some of the most top-notch products with next-level performance. Sleek designs like the glass roof on the Model S set this company apart from the rest of the EV market. However, these same designs might pose a problem for consumers wanting a roof rack were it not for Tesla’s incredible innovation.
Roof racks do not come standard on Tesla models. Still, Tesla kept adventurers and road trippers in mind when they designed the roof rack for the Model S. The roof rack was created with beautiful simplicity, ensuring the best possible performance for storage, aerodynamics, and user-friendliness.
Not all roof racks are created equal, and not all roof racks will provide the same consumer experience. Many factors go into choosing what kind of roof rack you will need and how much storage space you will use. This article will show you how the Tesla roof rack for Model S compares to others on the market.
The Tesla Roof Rack
Not every Tesla owner will need a roof rack, but having access to one can certainly come in handy, especially if you enjoy many sports that require large equipment. Sports where roof racks come in handy include:
- Mountain biking
For around $550, you can free up a lot of space inside your Tesla while minimally affecting the Model S’s aerodynamics. Tests done on the Model S have shown that the roof rack only produces negligible wind resistance and therefore does not need to be considered when reconciling energy costs.
Roof racks, in general, free up a lot of space inside your vehicle and give you a reliable location to store your luggage or sporting equipment. When properly installed, the roof rack contents are safely stowed away and will not pose a safety hazard to passengers in the car or other drivers on the road.
The roof rack from Tesla for their Model S vehicle not only looks good, but it is also designed for optimal functionality. The roof rack can hold up to 150 pounds of storage or equipment, making it perfect for families on the go or consumers that may be packing a little extra on their travels.
Along with being very intuitive and easy to use, the Tesla roof rack makes transporting bulky items super quick and easy. The Model S roof rack is aerodynamically quiet, producing little to no wind noise depending on the load, and the four-year warranty does not hurt either. A combination of this caliber makes for an excellent product overall.
Roof Racks for a Model S
Roof racks are made up of towers, crossbars, and a fit system. Since the Model S has a “bare roof” or “naked roof,” meaning that there are no pre-installed attachment points, a Clip Fit style of roof rack is your best bet. This style uses tension around the door frame of your vehicle to keep the roof rack in place.
It is interesting to note that you can only install a roof rack on Model S cars with a sunroof or panoramic roof. If your Model S has a solid body roof, meaning that the roof has no glass, installing a roof rack will be impossible without permanently modifying the vehicle.
Because the roof of the Model S is glass, there are not many places to mount the towers without damaging the vehicle. Sticking with a Clip Fit roof rack will maintain your vehicle’s integrity while still providing the more open interior space that a roof rack provides and salvaging your resale value in the long run.
Bare roof styles of cars also have the option of a permanent installation of track-style or fixed point-style mounts. However helpful and practical this may seem, the permanent installation of anything on your Model S will most likely hurt your resale value.
The Tesla Recommendation
It is worth mentioning that Tesla does not advise using other brands’ accessories, as this would void any warranty you have on the corresponding part of the vehicle. Tesla cannot guarantee the work of other retailers. This is not out of the ordinary among retailers, considering most carmakers are picky about aftermarket installs.
Tesla warns against using other brands for all parts of their cars simply because these other parts were not specifically made for a Tesla model under its quality program. As Tesla Motor Company cannot guarantee the quality, installation, nor testing done by other distributors, they are understandably fairly strict when it comes to this.
Tesla prides itself on the amount of testing and quality assurance it puts into every piece of its model design. In this specific case, Tesla does not know how a different roof rack would affect aerodynamics or noise level in the vehicle. Because this is specifically not recommended by Tesla, it will most likely decrease your resale value as well.
No matter how careful you may be, it is not uncommon to accidentally nick the paint or scratch the glass roof on your car with the roof rack, attachments, or even whatever you are storing up there. Be forewarned that using a different roof rack distributor will void the warranty, and you might not be able to mend any minor damage to your car easily.
Factors to Consider
When looking at roof racks, you are going to want to consider aerodynamics. Roof racks come in different shapes, and these will affect the look of your entire ride. It will also change the aerodynamics of your Model S.
- Boxy, rod-like shape
- Sleek, smooth shape
- Round frame
If your roof rack has a boxy or rod-like shape, it will add a lot of noise to your ride. That will inevitably get really old really quickly unless you are only carrying the appropriately related luggage. Something like a round bar or a square tube frame will undoubtedly contribute to wind noise but give you a higher weight capacity.
The Tesla Model S was designed to allow air to pass over, around, and underneath itself with minimal turbulence. Depending on the roof rack you choose, you can either contribute to the sleekness of your car, or you can detract from it, thereby creating a ton of wind noise. That is because the air going over your vehicle can not pass smoothly.
The nice thing about a Tesla roof rack is that it was specifically and aerodynamically designed for the Tesla vehicle and the average cargo-carrying consumer. With T-slots added to provide the option to connect compatible attachments to your roof rack like bike racks or a cargo carrier box, your options are limitless for activities and storage.
Lessening Wind Noise
There can be few things more distracting on a long road trip than a constant whistling noise coming from outside your vehicle. The shape of your car, the speed at which you are cutting through the air, any attachments on your vehicle, and even the texture of the paint on your car all contribute to wind noise.
Wind noise stems as a result of air not being able to pass smoothly over your vehicle. So if you have sharp lines in the body of your car, you will notice a higher wind noise. The Model S and especially the Model S roof rack were both designed to produce the least amount of wind noise heard in the cabin of the vehicle.
The same principle applies to anything you may have on the outside of your car that can cause resistance, including:
- Roof racks
- Antennae ornaments
- Your side view mirrors
- The tail of your car
If your roof rack is not designed to allow the air rushing by to move over and past your car cleanly, you are going to notice a certain amount of wind noise.
Wind noise is difficult to eliminate entirely, but some roof racks are designed with wind noise in mind. Depending on the roof rack model you choose, you could experience little or no wind noise or a significant amount of wind noise, especially with higher speeds.
Your hobbies might require you to be able to carry more than just a few hockey sticks and a gym bag atop your roof. Weight limits are another factor you should consider when selecting the best roof rack for your needs. A major concern for Model S owners is accidentally overloading your roof rack and thereby damaging your car.
Model S owners have commented that the Tesla roof rack was more than capable of toting two or three 45-60 pound kayaks and that even on the highway at 75 miles per hour, the boats did not budge. It would appear that you would run out of space before you would overweigh the rack.
As the Model S roof rack can comfortably and safely carry 150 pounds, it is pretty comparable to other roof racks, which on average, are not recommended to carry more than about 165 pounds. The heaviest thing you might want to tote up top would be a loaded cooler. Even then, a Tesla has more than enough storage space onboard.
Even if you go with a different distributor for your roof rack, your glass roof or panoramic roof has a weight limit that is not too much more than 150 pounds. You should never overload your roof rack, regardless of the make and model, as you can very easily cause damage to your car that may not be easy to fix.
Ease of Assembly
The Model S roof racks are so easy to assemble, even less handy car owners can attach them safely to their Teslas in less than 30 minutes. This includes prep time and cleaning. The kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions that explain installation step by step.
The contents of the Tesla roof rack are as follows:
- Whispbar flush bar
- Mounting kit for you to install at home
- Basic instructions
Almost every brand of roof rack is easily installed at home, and there are retailers and helpful websites everywhere ready to help you assemble your kit safely. Other distributors estimate the prep and installation time for your roof rack to take about an hour if you are doing it by yourself.
Other brands of roof racks may not come in a kit or a set like the Tesla model. This can be nice as you can specifically tailor your roof rack to your needs, but also less convenient and maybe a little confusing.
Other brands may not be as easy to install on your Tesla, as the Model S has a bare roof and does not come with a lot of places to safely install your average roof rack. That being said, with instructions, a lot of patience, and maybe a little online scrolling, you can most likely install every roof rack brand yourself.
The beauty of a roof rack is that you can lash your sports equipment directly to the bars, or you can use attachments to get the most out of the storage space. For large objects like kayaks and surfboards, you will most likely want to tie them down right to the roof bars. Smaller or trickier items can be put in an attachment.
The Tesla roof rack comes with T-slots that fit a series of compatible attachments such as bike racks, cargo boxes, and even railing. The whole point of this is to be able to remove the compatible attachments when you are not using them. The roof racks themselves are pretty inconspicuous, which is nice if you are going for a sleeker look.
It is a good idea to spread out the weight of your roof rack attachments or contents of your cargo box evenly. As a rule of thumb, try to keep 60 percent of the weight in the middle of your car and 20 percent of the weight on either end. This will help any unwanted slipping and keep your stuff safely where it needs to be.
The most common things people put in their cargo boxes are:
- Bulky, soft, light equipment like tents and blankets
- Sleeping bags and camping chairs
- Skiing and snowboarding helmets, sports clothes, and other gear for hobbies
- Dog and cat food
- Emergency road supplies like tire chains, roadside repair kits, and jumper cables
It is worth mentioning that you should not attempt to open up the panoramic roof or sunroof while you have the roof rack or its attachments on top of your car. When a consumer has attempted this in the past, the bars of the rack have caused permanent damage to the glass, and it was no longer able to close.
Tesla Roof Rack vs. the Competition
The Tesla roof rack was specifically made for the Model S, which certainly comes in handy with factors like aerodynamics and consumer-friendliness. So what truly sets the Tesla roof rack apart from other distributors? If the overall purpose is the same and you are more worried about arriving in one piece, what roof rack should you choose?
This table will hopefully lay out some of the pros and cons of the Tesla roof rack and how it compares to other models at the top of the market. While they are all good roof racks, keep in mind that only the Tesla branded roof rack is covered under Tesla’s warranty. The other brands will void the parts warranty if they cause damage.
|Roof Rack Name||Price||Weight Limit||Road Noise Ratings|
|Tesla Model S||$550||150 pounds||Little to no added noise|
|Yakima Baseline Set||$599+||165 pounds||Little to moderate noise|
|Thule Rapid Podium AeroBar||$699+||165 pounds||Very quiet, little noise|
|Thule AeroBlade Edge||$649+||165 pounds||Little to no added noise|
If you are not super familiar with roof rack systems, $550 can seem pretty steep. Although Tesla’s vehicles have a higher-end price sticker, the roof rack they created for the Model S seems to be an excellent value. As one of the least expensive models, customers have reviewed that it does not sacrifice quality or efficiency.
Roof racks can be of excellent help for those needing to carry a lot of stuff or things that are too large and bulky to traditionally fit inside of their cars. There are so many different kinds of roof racks, and they are not really one-size-fits-all. You, as a consumer, have the ability to purchase a premade set or custom order the parts separately.
The Model S roof rack system has the advantages of being convenient, aerodynamic, and specifically designed for the Model S car. Although the Model S roof rack is not recommended to hold as much weight as some of the roof racks from other distributors, you truly cannot beat the quality of the Tesla roof rack for the price.
Lately, Tesla has made leaps and bounds in quality improvement. The roof rack they designed is an excellent showcase of the metric they have set for themselves. The design of this product is quality-driven, and it would seem they have achieved the highest caliber of aerodynamics and ergonomics with their roof rack for the Model S.