How much can you carry on the roof of your Ford Ranger?

how much you can carry on ford ranger roof racks

Don’t overload your roof racks and risk failure. Here’s everything you need to know about how much you can carry on your Ford Ranger.

Proudly brought to you by Oricom: Roof racks have been causing a lot of noise on the Internet across the last couple of weeks after one very well publicised failure that turned out to be user error. However, the resulting social media chatter has prompted MotoFomo to reach out to car makers about roof racks and roof loading. And this is the first article in a series of articles that will detail the official roof loading for a range of popular makes and models.

While a lack of detailed information has been blamed for mistakes being made by individuals overloading their roof racks, the truth is that the information is readily available both from vehicle makers and some accessories makers. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t confusion.

You only have to look at marketing material from roof rack makers which claim incredible strength. But these headline grabbing numbers should only be taken as testament to the strength of the product, rather than any form of official rating.

And then there’s the question around mounting points, with some claiming certain brands are better than others. That may well be the case but it’s irrelevant if the end user, meaning you, isn’t working to guidelines laid down by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Not the maker of the roof rack.

So, let’s break this down. Every car maker will list a maximum static and dynamic load limit for their roof. In the case of the Ford Ranger (we’re talking about the cabin and not the tray – different story), the maximum dynamic load limit on the roof is 80kg, and that’s regardless of the style of roof rack you choose. From this 80kg you need to subtract the weight of the roof rack. Depending on the type of roof rack you choose this could weigh anywhere from 20-30kg. Before you do or think about anything else, you need to reduce the manufacturer’s maximum dynamic limit by the weight of the roof rack system you want. What’s left will be the amount of load left to carry on the roof rack. And it’s worth noting that Ford’s roof rack supplier of choice is Rhino-Rack, so we’ll be doing our math with its products in mind. No matter what brand of rack you choose, you need to stick to the vehicle manufacturer’s roof load limits which are all listed in the owner’s manual.

That means, if you add a light bar, or traction boards or a shovel, or a storage box (and whatever goes into it) a tent, anything you need to work within the payload left. But there’s still more, because according to Ford the maximum load height should be no greater than 300mm from the rack.

And there are obvious reasons why you shouldn’t be loading up the roof of your vehicle with big bulky items that stick up into the air. Like the fact you’ll end turning your vehicle into a sail just waiting to catch a cross wind, or you’ll drastically increase your fuel consumption. More than that, adding weight to the roof raises your vehicle’s centre of gravity making it more prone to roll over in extreme circumstances.

So, let’s get back to some math and scenarios for the Ford Ranger. As mentioned, Ford recommends Rhino-Rack so we’ll base our number crunching off its products. Let’s select a Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform with Backbone (mount). The Ford Ranger PX/PX2/PX3 has a roof load limit of 80kg. Minus the weight of the Rhino-Rack system (27kg) and you’re left with a payload of 53kg. This is the maximum you can carry on your roof rack. And you can’t load it any higher than 300mm.

What about if you’re going with a gutter-mounted rack instead? Well, let’s take Rhino Rack’s Heavy Duty two-bar track-mount roof rack, this system weighs just 6kg leaving you with 74kg of payload.

Most owners looking to mount a roof top tent over their ute cabin will be looking at a rail-type system as this gives you the maximum payload. However, you need to consider the weight of the roof top tent, and these can range from 40kg to more than 90kg although the majority will sit somewhere between 40-70kg.

The other thing you need to know is that Rhino Rack demands a dynamic load limit when you’re driving off-road, this is included in the owner’s manual for the roof rack system you choose but it’s usually dividing the available payload by 1.5 (after you’ve subtracted the weight of your rack from the manufacturer’s maximum dynamic load). So, in the case of the Pioneer system mentioned above you’d be looking at an adjusted load limit for off-roading of 35kg, and for the two-bar rack an adjusted limit of 49kg.

Of course there are other roof rack makers out there but no matter what brand you choose you need to work within the manufacturer’s load limits, and not the roof rack makers limits.

Hopefully, this article has helped to clarify roof load limits for the Ford Ranger. Stay tuned for more articles from MotoFomo breaking down the roof load limits for other popular makes and models of 4×4 and 4×4 dual cab utes.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.