How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy Tips

We share five easy-to-follow tips on reducing roof rack vibration and five more tips on getting rid of wind noise and whistling.
Gloria Bussey
Gloria Bussey
Product Research and Writer
Gloria is a talented writer based in Chattanooga, TN and enjoys kayaking and mountain biking. She graduated with a business degree in 2007 and is now working on a master's i read more
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Steven Martin
Steven Martin
Vehicle Fit Expert and Consultant
Steven is a skilled car mechanic based in Denver, CO. He's a passionate hiker, devoted backcountry camper and his mechanic expertise allows him to maximize space in any vehi read more
Last updated: August 17, 2023
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If you’ve been driving fast and noticed vibrations and hissing sounds from the installed roof rack, then you’ve probably been thinking about how to stop roof rack vibration.

Using roof bars is practical. They are useful when traveling with your whole family or when you go on vacation and need to transport bulky items. The problem is that the roof racks can make a hissing, vibration noise and become very loud. This can be particularly problematic, especially if it’s a long journey.

This whistling noise is caused by the wind blowing through your roof bars when you are driving at high speed. To make the most of your trip in calm and serenity, we will introduce you to some techniques for reducing whistling noise from the roof bars.

Possible Reasons for Roof Rack Whistling and Vibration

If you’ve ever owned an SUV or any similar vehicle with a roof rack installed, you probably know this all too well. You drive and detect an irritating hiss once you hit a certain speed. The hissing noise in the roof rack is due to wind blowing over the bar.

In the case where the surface (the roof rack) is of a consistent shape, then the airflow will develop a tone, hence the hiss. This is also called the Aeolian sound Trusted Source Aeolian sound - Wikipedia . The sound is determined by the speed of air on the surface, the shape of the surface, and its resulting drag coefficient.

In a nutshell, to fix the roof rack sound issue, you will need to interrupt the airflow over the roof surface. Alternatively, you will need to make the rack more aerodynamic.

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration

Below are some of the tips on techniques you should try to make the roof rack more aerodynamic and silent.

Tip #1: Install a Wind Deflector

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsThis technique is probably the easiest for you if you already have your roof bars and you do not want to buy new ones.

You can therefore acquire wind deflectors, which are accessories specially designed to limit the wind intake at the level of your roof bars.

Deflectors are a kind of plastic shields that create a barrier and therefore divert the wind from your roof bars. The wind will be pushed back on each side and therefore not make any noise by rushing into the roof bars.

The deflectors will be sold to you as being universal but you can find them in different lengths so they can adapt to the width of your vehicle and the roof bars that you have installed.

Installing a deflector is quite simple. The upper part attaches to your roof bars. The lower part is placed directly on the body of your car. The deflectors are equipped with protective films so as not to damage the bodywork or the paintwork of your vehicle.

Tip #2: Build a Wind Deflector

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsWhile some wind deflectors aren’t expensive, there are times when you might just want to try a DIY method. If so, consider building wind deflectors on your crossbars.

What you have to do is interrupt the airflow over the crossbar. A fantastic alternative to this is that of a bungee cord.

A bungee cord essentially changes the crossbar surface and divides it in a way that prevents wind sound from occurring. This is because the cable parks the atmosphere, much like the end diffusion grooves in an airfoil.

All you have to do is wrap a bungee cord around the crossbar of your vehicle at the front. A 1.2-meter cord should do. Ensure that it’s tight enough. Otherwise, you will need a shorter cord.

If the bungee cord has hooks at each end, this will help secure it in position at the end of the crossbar. Otherwise, have it tied in place.

Tip #2: Use Edge Bars

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsThere are two types of roof rack crossbars: load bars and edge bars. Loading bars are quite common and are developed to carry heavier and bulkier items. To improve loading capacity, they have quite a large surface area and are therefore usually longer than the typical edge bars.

Edge bars can also be made shorter, reducing their area. Even though you cannot transfer heavy loads with the edge bars, they are still good for many transport jobs. You can for example install a top box on the edge bar.

Tip #3: Remove the Noisy Roof Rack

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsIf the roof rack is too noisy or making vibration noise, you can simply eliminate it if you’re not using it that frequently.

When using it, whether using a high box or something different, hissing is usually not an issue because there is always something interrupting the airflow. By choosing a top box, the air present on the roof of your vehicle will change.

Few cars will have the option of removing the roof stand, especially on larger versions. However, if possible, we recommend it as the best choice to solve the problem.

Tip #4. Mount Aerodynamic Crossbars

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsAerodynamic crossbars have several design features that help reduce drag. These include:

  • A lower design that changes the airflow
  • Grooves that help diffuse wind
  • Oval shape for low drag

The grooves that help with wind diffusions are perhaps among the most fascinating areas of the crossbars. They create a vortex of wind as opposed to a one-way airflow, which effectively eliminates the problem of vibration and hissing.

In addition, they are specially designed to reduce drag. Crossbars and normal roof racks are often square or round. The aerodynamic crossbars are oblong, like some airplane wings. Like planes, they are more aerodynamic.

Tip #5: Stuff the Crossbars with Pads

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsStuffing the crossbar with pads can help prevents airflow as it makes these bars even more curved and the rubber material provides more coefficient of drag Trusted Source The Drag Coefficient .

One of the best pad kits for roof racks is the HEYTRIP Roof Rack Pad Kit. Included are 30 inches pads and 15 feet tie-down straps. And they all fit most crossbars.

Be aware, however, that this choice may not be as effective when you’re driving at a higher speed. It only alters the so-called drag coefficient. This usually means the hissing will almost certainly happen again sooner or later.

But you can also secure the loose ends of your kayak roof racks.

How to Stop Roof Rack Noise and Whistling

Next, we’ll see how to stop roof rack noise and whistling.

Tip #1: Buy New, Quieter Roof Bars

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsYou can always buy new roof bars which will be quieter than the ones you have. To choose new roof bars, you must take into account the aerodynamics of these. Today, roof bars are designed in such a way as to considerably reduce passages and air flows so that they are as quiet as possible.

Instead of being square or circular, they are oval.  This allows the air to circulate better and avoid rushing into these bars, so it limits the noise when you ride.

The aerodynamic roof bars can also be fitted with strips of wind diffusers to optimize their circulation and offer you a very pleasant silence.

When buying new roof bars, choose models with rubber paddings. For large loads such as kayaks, you’ll find models with rubber paddings in our best double kayak roof racks review.

On the market, you will also find other noise-free models such as edge flush racks and racks with rubber paddings, especially in the list of the best Thule roof racks.

In addition, be sure to choose the material of manufacture of your roof bars. Aluminum roof bars are recommended in this case as it has the advantage of being light. It can be optimized in terms of aerodynamics.

Nevertheless, aluminum roof bars generally have a higher cost than steel roof bars. These roof bars are worth your investment if it is an accessory that you will use regularly.

Finally, if you choose the right aluminum roof bars with optimized aerodynamics, you shouldn’t need to acquire a deflector because they are quiet enough not to disturb you during your various journeys.

Tip #2: Install/Reinstall Your Roof Bars Correctly

Maybe your roof bars are simply incorrectly installed, which is causing those unpleasant wind noises. Therefore, you must check that your bars are properly installed, perfectly parallel, and correctly spaced. This will allow a better diffusion of the wind and prevent it from rushing in and generating very annoying noises during your travels.

If you have any doubts about installing your roof bars, there are many tutorials on the internet that can help you. You can also ask a professional to install your roof bars, but you will have to pay for it.

Tip #3: Mount a Wind Fairing

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsRoof rack fairing diverts the wind away from your roof rack, which effectively eliminates hissing. Many wind fairings are universal and suitable for all cars. However, you can also get models in different length versions. They are designed to clip to the crossbar at the front and the rest onto the roof of your car.

The INNO INA261 is a good example of a universal wind fairing mount. It’s designed for all mid-sized cars and SUVs.

Tip #4: Use Ropes or Paracord

An almost free solution to a problem of wind noise can be putting a rope or paracord around the crossbars. Check out the video below to find out more.

Tip #5: Look for a Roof Bar Alternative

The roof bars are too noisy, and you may not want to invest more money in this system. In this case, there are alternatives to roof bars that allow you to carry everything you want without the inconvenience of the unpleasant noise of the wind rushing over your head.

Buy a Hitch Box

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsHitch boxes are less common because they are less known but are nevertheless very practical. They are simply storage boxes that attach to your tow hitch like a trailer.

The advantage of these boxes is that you can transport your items safely because they are protected from the weather in the box.

Buy a Trailer

How to Stop Roof Rack Vibration and Noise: 10 Handy TipsA trailer is a good solution if you need to transport a lot of equipment or objects. This can be useful for going on vacation or even while moving.

The advantage of trailers is that they are located at the rear of the vehicle, and this does not generate the hissing noise that roof bars can make.

However, buying a trailer is more expensive than roof racks. In addition, you have to spend extra money for the tow bar but also for its installation if you do not know how to do it yourself.

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve now learned how to stop roof rack vibration. There are several ways to stop noise from your roof rack, but the important thing is to know where the noise is coming from and why the source is making noise.

You can get by without spending too much money with this, but when you have a bigger budget, you can opt for the aerodynamic crossbar. Regardless of the option you choose, these benefits go beyond reducing vibration and noise.


Aeolian sound - Wikipedia
The Drag Coefficient
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