What Do You Want to Carry in Your Cargo Box?
The size of your cargo box depends on the types of gear you plan on hauling. If you need to transport your skis and snowboards for winter adventures in the mountain, you should probably go with a larger box. However, if you just want added storage space for suitcases and duffels, a small or medium cargo box should suffice. Have an idea of the types of items, and how many, you want to tote in your cargo box before purchasing one.
What Vehicle are You Driving?
Regardless of your vehicle’s size, the majority of our cargo boxes should fit on the roof of your vehicle. As a precaution, double check your vehicle’s manufacturer website or owner’s manual to figure out its weight limitations, dimensions and accessible car roof carrier fit guides. And all cargo boxes must mount to a roof rack, so you need to know the weight limit that your roof rack can support (more on that, later).
Cargo Box Shape
While some cargo boxes ride slightly taller, others are longer and sleeker. Manufacturers boast a wide array of styles when it comes to cargo boxes, but if you’re looking to boost your vehicle’s cargo-carrying capacity without spending more money on gas, it’s best to go with a sleek, aerodynamic cargo box. Aero cargo boxes’ sleek shape helps reduce wind drag when you’re driving, so you can reach your next destination in no time, no matter how much gear is secured to the top of your roof. To make the most of your fuel, however, it’s best to get the smallest, lowest-profile box that still meets your cargo-carrying needs.
Choosing the Right Size Cargo Box
AutoAnything carries cargo boxes in many sizes and styles from top name brands. Before purchasing your cargo box, it’s helpful to measure your vehicle’s roof length to get an idea of the available distance you have to work with. It's ok if the cargo box extends over the front windshield, but avoid rear overhang which can limit the ability of your rear cargo lift gate to fully open.
Decide on the maximum-sized box you need, in terms of length, width and height. Volume is one of the most important specs for a cargo box, which is measured in cubic feet (cu. ft.). A cargo box with a larger volume means you can haul more gear, but this also means added weight to your ride, resulting in increased wind resistance and lower fuel economy. Different cargo boxes also have different load capacities, so you need to figure out whether your vehicle’s roof rack is able to support that weight.
Which Roof Rack Do You Have?
If your vehicle doesn’t have a cross bars or side roof rails, you have a naked roof. Installing a roof rack on your naked roof is the first and most essential step if you want to add a cargo box to your vehicle’s top. When you have a naked roof, you need a foot pack, fit kit and crossbars to create a complete and stable roof rack system. Once your roof rack is securely installed, you’re ready to mount your cargo box. All the mounting hardware you need should be included with your cargo box.
Side Rails Only
If your vehicle has roof rails that run down the length of the vehicle, but there are no cross bars, then you will need a set of crossbars to mount your new cargo box. This roof configuration is common on SUVs and wagons. We carry the perfect set of crossbars to mount onto your existing factory side rails. The shape of your crossbars you choose affects the amount of wind noise your vehicle makes when driving at freeway speeds. Square bars are the least aerodynamic (most wind noise), while oval (aero) bars cause the least amount of wind noise. Once these crossbars are mounted, you can easily add your cargo box to your roof. Slide the crossbars apart to stabilize your load. Cargo boxes should include the all mounting hardware you need for installation. Boxes are usually installed with screws and brackets that create a clamp to attach the box to the crossbars. Be sure to check the brackets’ and screws’ tightness before embarking on a long commute or road-trip.
Factory or Aftermarket Roof Rack
If your vehicle already has a complete roof rack with crossbars (factory roof rack), then you don’t need any additional parts. Simply mount your new cargo box using the included hardware. Before purchasing your cargo box, double check to make sure it’s compatible with your factory or aftermarket roof rack’s specific crossbars shape (round, square, OEM or aero). Most cargo boxes should mount to your factory roof racks. However, every cargo box manufacturer is different — while Yakima cargo boxes often mount to round and square crossbars, as well as to factory crossbars, Thule cargo boxes can generally mount to square and aero bars (factory and aftermarket roof racks), but not round bars.
Regardless of your vehicle’s roof type, your cargo box should sit squarely on top of your roof once it’s properly installed. It should be level with your vehicle’s rooftop and the lowest end should be at the front of the vehicle. Make sure your cargo box is securely mounted before you take off on your next outdoor adventure, and keep your gear safely stowed in the box by using the included straps. Cargo boxes should be packed full so that your belongings don’t rattle around inside for the duration of your commute.
To find out more about AutoAnything’s selection of base racks, check out our crossbar shape comparison guide. We also have an excellent roof cargo box comparison guide to help you find the right carrier for your vehicle