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Upgrades (non TDI Engine related) The place of handling, lighting and other upgrades that do not relate to the performance or economy of the TDI engine. In other words upgrades to your TDI that don't fit into TDI Fuel Economy & TDI Engine Enhancements.Please note the Performance Disclaimer

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Old June 9th, 2008, 19:01   #1
ed1chandler
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Default Cargo: Hitch & Basket vs. Roof Rack

Hey, all

I just got back from an 1100 mile road trip with my family of 4 and our luggage in my '02 Jetta GLS TDI. The good news ... I averaged 49 mpg with the A/C on most of the time. The bad news ... it was pretty close quarters.

I'm looking for a good option for a bit more cargo room. As I see it, there are three options: A trailer, a hitch-mounted cargo carrier, or a roof rack. I'm going to eliminate a trailer right off the bat because I don't want to screw with having to pay for the plates ... much less the hassle of backing into places. That leaves me with either the hitch-mounted cargo carrier or the roof rack. Does anyone have any guidance for me as to which is better and why?

Unless I'm wrong, with a hitch-mounted cargo carrier, my towing capacity (which I gather to be 2000 lbs) isn't nearly as important as the tongue weight because all of the force is driving straight down on the hitch. All of the compatible hitches I've found are "Class I" 1.25" hitches with a tongue weight capacity of about 200 lbs. The cargo carriers, themselves weigh about 50 lbs, so it looks like I'm carrying an extra 150 lbs or so of cargo. That's about three suitcases and that's probably enough. I'm also assuming that a hitch-mounted cargo carrier is more aerodynamic since it's essentially "drafting" the car.

I can't find any information about roof racks and their capacity. Can anyone tell me how much weight you can safely carry on a roof rack and (assuming that capacity depends on the rack) what brand or style of rack I might want to consider?

I'm leaning towards the hitch-mounted carrier, but am open to being talked out of it. The only downside is that the cargo carriers are all either 48" or 60" wide, ... and either way they'll obscure the tail lights when they're loaded. Anyone have any guidance on that?

So, the short version is this ...

If you had to get a hitch-mounted cargo carrier or a roof rack to carry additional luggage, which would you get and why?

Thanks in advance.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 08:51   #2
Thorne
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I'd get a roof rack and roof box, probably as a set from either Yakima or Thule. Craigslist gets some good deals on these, otherwise check your local resellers.



The roofrack can handle a lot more weight than the US-style tow hitch, even though the ratings may be similar. The roofrack mounts on the roof, but the tow hitch partially mounts through holes in the sheet metal of the spare tire well. And the roofrack doesn't block access to the rear of the car, or view of the essential brake/turn signals.



Although a trailer would carry a lot more, there are few if any decent small lightweight trailers available for our cars. You get your choice of teensy motorcycle trailers, or large cargo trailers with nothing in between.
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Last edited by Thorne; June 10th, 2008 at 09:08.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 09:19   #3
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Roof rack will kill mpg. Also do you really want a lot of weight up high like that?

Carrier won't carry that much due to tongue weight and weight of the carrier itself. Might have some issues with hitch pulling loose. Someone mentioned this with a bike rack mounted to the hitch. Load on a lever in back, removing some weight from front wheels.

Small trailers are available from harbor freight. Seems like this one was on sale this week for $249 I think:
http://www.harborfreightusa.com/usa/...bCategoryName=

Economy will go down some, but very little weight is actually on the car itself.

I would prefer the small trailer myself. Here is mine:
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=208479
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Old June 10th, 2008, 09:47   #4
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Beware of potential ground clearance issues with a hitch mount. The angle when approaching a hill (driveway for example) off the roadway could cause a bottoming-out issue.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 10:43   #5
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I strongly recommend against the Harbor Freight trailers -- I have purchased two, both were junk, and nobody will work on them for the same reasons. The bearings are non-standard as are the hub sizes, much of the metal is very poor quality, the grease fittings snap off when used, etc.

The smallest cargo trailers available, the 4x6 size, have a curb weight that means even when lightly loaded they will be close to the max allowable weight for the Jettas. They are nice, but much heavier-built than needed for much of my trailering needs.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 11:46   #6
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As a small luggage trailer for occaisional use to relieve the load on the car, I think they are great. Simple, small, inexpensive, storable, hand manageable trailer. Build a small plywood box to put luggage in or used old big car top carrier (streamlined). I had one as well and it did just fine. I considered it disposable at some point. One of these with a plywood bottom and an old car top carrier bolted to it would do well for years probably.

One of these:
http://austin.craigslist.org/for/698688302.html

or this:
http://austin.craigslist.org/for/673622942.html

on this:
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=42708

$250 if you are cheap.

Plus I beleive the car will handle better with the trailer than with stuff on top or loaded on the back.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 15:12   #7
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Well, the question is, disposable at WHAT point? Don't know how many miles you've logged with your Harbor Freight trailer, but I've done over 5000 miles with mine -- and have to worry about the bearings going at any time.

Having a trailer fail doesn't mean it falls always apart parked in your yard -- it can also fail at high speed, spreading your belongings all over the freeway and possibly causing accidents.

I've had a entire wheel come off a utility trailer doing 75mph in the UK, luckily it was the offside one so it bounced into a field rather than oncoming traffic. I've seen boats and utility trailers upside down on mountain roads and steep curves.

Why have a nice reliable, well-built and maintained car but tow a junk trailer?
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PAST VW's - 63 Beetle, 2x 69 Poptop Westfalias, 87 Golf 4-dr 5sp (converted for righthand drive in the UK ), 89 Golf 4-dr 5sp.

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Old June 10th, 2008, 15:52   #8
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http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=205284
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Old June 10th, 2008, 16:09   #9
ed1chandler
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Good information so far, thanks.

New question, ... people are saying that the roof rack reduces mileage. Does the RACK (alone) reduce mileage, or do you mean only with the box attached?
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Old June 10th, 2008, 16:26   #10
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I see a ~2MPG drop with a fully loaded roof top carrier from Yakima. Of course, that is also with the car chock full of vacation stuff, two people and a dog, the air conditioner on and a somewhat heavy right foot. All in all, it's worth 2MPG to me. I see no penalty with the cargo box carrier bars alone. Mine is a wagon, if that matters.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 16:55   #11
milehighassassin
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I noticed about a 2-3 MPG hit with JUST cross-bars and a wind fairing.

My buddy hit 4-5 from the base rack and a cargo basket.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 17:00   #12
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I am planning on getting a hitch basket. 200 lbs would be plenty for me. I just plan on carring some gear, coolers maybe some gas containers.

I am actually planning on putting a action packer type plastic box on the basket, so I can lock it closed.

Many of the baskets have risers built into them so clearance is not as much of an issue. I am not sure your tail lights would be blocked but the basket I am looking has a lighting kit available for like another $25.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 17:59   #13
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Hello,

I have not tried a rooftop carrier on my TDI. So I cannot speak for that loss in aerodynamics except that fuel mileage would suffer on my old Pathfinder and A2 Golf. I avoided the rooftop carrier because of the marring to the paint, the hassle of loading heavy items up high, and the potential for muddy bicycles dribble on my roof. But I digress.

I started with a hitch mounted carrier. It carried a good bit of luggage:


I actually weighed each item and kept the load right at 100-lbs. The rack itself is another 50 lbs. ONCE, I loaded a 150-lb generator. I was uncomfortable with this since the car bobbed and heaved. I tolerated that since a hurricane was on the way and I was only driving five miles at low speeds. Since then I have stuck with about 100-lbs or less.

BTW, a standard rack WILL DRAG on driveways and uneven intersections. After a while, I bought a different rack that raises the load about four inches over other racks CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS:


My mileage dropped about 2-3 mpg with a rear rack.

I also like to use my trailer. I get about 36-mpg towing this 600-lb load:


Odds are my mileage would improve A LITTLE if I were to stick with low-profile containers that yield better aerodynamics. I've considered three 48x24x18 trunk chests butted against each other. But I want to stick with the containers I already have. BTW, this trailer is about as short as you can get and still be able to back it predictably. There are shorter trailers; but they're likely VERY difficult to back without jack-knifing. At $200 in 2000 (same trailer is about $400 today), the trailer was cheaper than a roof rack/carrier combo and it has paid for itself over and over again since I've used it to move things that would normally require me to rent a truck or trailer. I pay $38/year to register it.

In short, I'd say the cargo rack is good for most lighter weight items. However, you may find that some luggage gets heavier than expected fairly fast. I like the fact that my trailer can supply very secure storage and I can manage the tongue weight much better than can be done with a cargo rack. Regardless of whether you choose a roof box, a hitch carrier, or a trailer, I must warn you of the possibility of interior room not really improving since you or your family may just opt to bring more stuff. Think about when you moved up from a two bedroom home to a four bedroom home. Did you really just have two empty rooms? Or did you add more stuff?

Good Luck,

Scott
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Old June 10th, 2008, 21:31   #14
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I"d feel fortunate indeed if I only had a ~2mpg drop with the Yakima box on top.
With the box mostly empty and just me and my dog in the car, I notice a 4-5 mpg drop.

It's worth it though, the box is *so* convenient.

Joe

Quote:
Originally Posted by daedalus
I see a ~2MPG drop with a fully loaded roof top carrier from Yakima. Of course, that is also with the car chock full of vacation stuff, two people and a dog, the air conditioner on and a somewhat heavy right foot. All in all, it's worth 2MPG to me. I see no penalty with the cargo box carrier bars alone. Mine is a wagon, if that matters.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 22:23   #15
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I'm not sure if this matters to you but interior noise from rooftop racks are annoying. Even with the fairing. If you have a sunroof, forget about opening it while on the highway.
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