3 Ways to Fix Roof Rack Wind Noise and Whistling

Many cars already come straight from the factory with fun interior and exterior features. Still, adding accessories to your vehicle can enhance its performance and take care of common problems. These add-ons can be essential in certain circumstances, like snow plows and all-season tires.

On some vehicles, roof racks come standard and provide even more storage space. However, if you have roof racks, you know that they can get pretty noisy while you’re driving. Fortunately, My Cargo Racks has a few useful solutions for this problem.

A white van with a roof rack on top driving down the highway.
Roof racks on a van | Getty Images

Why do roof racks make so much noise?

Roof racks usually start to make a high whistling noise once you start traveling at highway speeds. This is caused by wind passing over a consistent shape of a surface. The shape and speed of travel determine the tone of the wind, which happens to be a high whistle over roof racks.

Depending on your speed, you may also experience vibrations. Most roof racks aren’t very aerodynamic, meaning your vehicle might get lower gas mileage than advertised. To fix these problems, you must disrupt the flow of air over the roof racks. 

DIY wind deflectors are easy and inexpensive

Gone Outdoors says you can stop the wind noise yourself with just a few cheap supplies. Sometimes, noise and vibration are caused by loose racks or support towers. You’ll need some weather stripping, scissors, and an Allen wrench to fix it.

Use scissors to cut your rubber weather stripping and apply a piece to each contact point where the rack meets the roof. If needed, you may need to adjust the mounting points with your Allen wrench. 

Even with your roof racks adjusted, you may still hear some noise if your gear is too loose. Use bungee cords, zip ties, or duct tape to secure your gear so that this doesn’t occur.

Another solution is to wrap some bungee cords around the roof racks. Attach a cord to one end of the roof rack, wrapping it in a spiral pattern until you reach the end. Attach the end of the cord to the other end of the rack and repeat as needed.

The cord has to be as tight as possible, so your cords shouldn’t be less than four feet long. If the bungee cords don’t have hooks, tightly knot each end at the bases of your roof racks.

Wind fairings are also effective on roof racks

A wind fairing is a plastic shield attached to the front crossbar. It deflects oncoming wind so that you won’t hear the noise or feel vibrations. These durable attachments are available in various sizes and even come with protective film strips for your car’s paint.

Prices for these accessories vary depending on their length, material, and any special cosmetic features they might have. The most expensive wind fairing costs about $120, but you can still get a high-quality one for half that price. Before you purchase one, you should also refer to the product specifications to ensure it will fit your roof racks.

Swap out the standard crossbars for aerodynamic crossbars

Aerodynamic crossbars have an oval shape so that the wind can pass through them more easily than circular or square bars. While they are relatively easy to install, they’re typically more expensive than wind fairings. Depending on what vehicle you have, a set of aerodynamic crossbars could cost over $200.

On the plus side, they’re so quiet that you probably won’t need to buy an extra wind fairing. In addition to their superior designs, many aerodynamic crossbars include wind diffuser strips. Whether you buy new crossbars or a wind fairing, both are sure to reduce exterior noise and increase fuel economy.

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