When you’re trying to fit your furniture in your car to do a DIY move, and they just won’t fit (even with the seats folded down), you may be tempted to try a roof hauling on moving day. If you do go this route, keep in mind some of these things to know, before you find yourself in a moving-day pickle!
Know your insurance and liability before moving furniture on top of your car
Recently, a driver in the USA was ticketed for overloading the roof of his car with furniture.
In B.C., you’ll want to check with ICBC about non-collision damage and equipment damage or loss (see page 12 of this document). You’ll notice it’s hard to find information about coverage for items you’re strapping to your roof. Since we’re not lawyers or insurance agents, do your bit and call to find out the rules regarding what you’re going to transport on top of your car.
But you’re not just protecting your own car from damage. What if your furniture flies off the roof of your car on a freeway and hits someone else’s windshield? Don’t let dumb things like this happen. As Popular Mechanics says, “don’t be an idiot.”
Know your weight allowances and potential damage to your vehicle
When you move items on top of your car, especially furniture, you can damage your car. Even the tie down process can affect the weather strip on your car doors, which can eventually lead to leaks. Your car also has weight allowances for what it can carry (see Popular Mechanics article linked to above). And if you’re using a car roof rack, it can also have it’s own weight limitations.
Be sure you are protecting your car when you haul furniture on top of it. It’s not worth the money you’re trying to save if you dent or scratch your car while trying to do a DIY move. Hire a professional for the really heavy, clunky stuff. Or, rent a real moving truck made for the job.
You are also going to need to drive slowly, for obvious reasons, and avoid freeways if you can. Consider wind resistance when driving with items on your car roof. And, if you overload or load incorrectly, your car’s center of gravity can be affected, which can get dangerous and wobbly. Read this article about the dangers of overloading and too much weight on your car.
Get the right straps to haul furniture on your car roof for moving day
You will need really good rope (if you know how to tie knots properly), but preferably proper moving straps to haul furniture on your car roof. According to an article linked to above, bungee cords are not enough here.
Ratchet moving straps, or loading straps can be bought just for this event, if you don’t have them. Even IKEA sells these.
The Popular Mechanics article above also recommends a cargo net as a catch-all just in case.
Tie your furniture to your car properly, and with foresight to how you’re going to get in and around
If you read this article, you’ll see that we can make some silly mistakes when we’re so focused on tying down the furniture on the roof of our car. One girl accidentally tied all her doors shut after a lot of complex, logistical strapping, and had to climb in from the window!
Plus, an article linked-to above also describes that when you tie items to your car, you need to consider things like “tension” and “air loads.” This is why the right straps are important, as well as the right skills in how to tie your furniture to your car.
Then, if you’re going to be heading out of a garage, will your load be too high and hit the top edge? What about bridges or tunnels? Be careful! Measure if you have to.
Your best bet will probably be to have a roof rack on your car for this job. There are, of course, travel boxes you can have tied to the top of your car, which would come in handy for camping or other excursions later on.
This article describes in detail some good tying down methods for moving items on top of your car.
If car roof hauling proves to be too complicated, consider your other options
If this is your first time trying to tie a load onto the top of your car, it may be best to put this off until you can practice with a bike rack or smaller items later on.
Other options can be hitching a trailer to the back of your car, borrowing a friend’s truck or SUV, or, hiring professional movers.
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