That's right, your vacation is over, and you've returned home. You've removed everything from the car's roof box, as well as the trunk, and back seats. Now that you've unloaded everything, you might be wondering if it's a good idea to remove the roof box from your car. That's an extremely alluring option.

6 Downside of Driving with an Empty Cargo Box

Rooftop storage boxes provide a lot of extra room, which might come in handy while traveling. Since you won’t be using the box daily, you may be wondering if it is safe driving with an empty cargo box.

You may technically be driving with an empty roof cargo box, but there are several safety concerns that make this a bad idea.

Most roof storage containers can be mounted or dismounted in a matter of minutes, so there’s no use leaving a line on your car when it’s not being used.

We did a significant amount of research online and found that many professionals advise against driving with an empty cargo box. Fuel efficiency is a major factor. Many producers say that cargo boxes have a little impact on gas mileage, yet that “little” might add up to a significant amount on your monthly expenditures.

Car roof boxes often feature user-friendly mounting hardware, so removing one is not a time-consuming process. Car roof boxes often come with permanent mounting gear, making installation a breeze after the initial setup.

If you want to save money on your car top box, take it apart when you’re not using it. You can disregard my suggestions if you have enough money.

Are there any downsides to driving with an empty cargo box? 

You probably don’t want to constantly install and uninstall your roof box between journeys if you need to use it often. Leaving the box as it is is probably the best option here. If you just take your box with you on vacation once a year or for weekend trips, you shouldn’t leave it there when you return.

Let’s examine why it’s not a good idea to drive with an empty storage box on your car’s top.

Fuel Efficiency

Adding a roof rack or cargo box, even if empty, will increase your vehicle’s wind resistance and decrease its fuel efficiency. Cargo boxes aren’t very hefty compared to the rest of the average vehicle, but they will nevertheless increase your vehicle’s weight, and, in turn, your fuel consumption. Getting the best mileage possible requires ditching the rack and bars and any other extra gear.

Having a roof box installed has been proven to increase gas consumption in a lot of studies. Whether you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint or not, using a cargo box will increase your gas mileage and consequently your driving costs. As shown in this article by Berkeley Lab, roof racks were responsible for nearly 1% of fuel consumption in the United States in 2015.

And what about the noise?

Since there is nothing to stop the box from being buffeted by the wind, an empty box is likely to produce even higher noise levels than a well-fitted and fully-laden aerodynamic design.

Depending on the severity, some passengers may find this to be an annoyance.

Do you have a spare tire?

You may have read that if you use a rooftop cargo box, you should store a spare tire there when you’re not using it to transport anything. The wind noise could be reduced or removed by using this method to weight down the box. Moving the spare tire to and from the storage box is an inconvenience, but removing the rooftop carrier is probably just as easy.


If you leave a rooftop storage box in your car, you might be limited in where you can go. Because of your increased stature, you might find that you are unable to use public transportation or enter certain buildings. Furthermore, it implies that you should exercise extreme caution in places where signs warn of low ceilings. Nobody is perfect, and you won’t be the first person to cause damage to their car or possessions by forgetting they had something mounted on the roof.

Wears The Box Out Quicker

Your rooftop cargo box’s durability and appearance will suffer regardless of how high its price or how sturdy its construction is. The best way to keep the box in pristine condition is to put it away when you’re not using it. You shouldn’t risk the longevity of your roof box’s expensive components by leaving it exposed to the elements for any longer than is strictly necessary.

Theft Opportunities

To increase the safety of your home, you should also take your box off the wall. Roof boxes are often broken into or stolen. If you don’t have to worry about losing anything, there’s no reason to leave any obvious signs of valuables there. There is a risk that you may either completely lose your box or sustain expensive harm to it. Why take the chance if you have expensive cargo box.

Some Practical Suggestions

It is advised that you routinely re-tighten the anchors on an empty cargo carrier for added safety when driving. If you want to keep the rain and snow out, you’ll need to do more than just zip up the bag and buckle the straps.

All these suggestions are relevant to carriers with a hard exterior. Cargo bags of the soft-bag variety are much simpler to stow when they are not in use, so it is much less of a hassle to remember to take them off every time you don’t need them.

Besides, these carriers are often a lot lighter than shell versions, so you won’t have to worry about your gas mileage suffering from having it mounted on your car.

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines for empty cargo carriers is essential irrespective of the nature of carriers you have on your vehicle. Therefore, you may have confidence that you are following the right procedures.

Can you drive with a pair of rack bars?

The rack bars support a car roof box. Is it legal to drive with a roof rack installed? It is fine. Square, spherical, and aerodynamic rack systems are all available for purchase, and each is lightweight. If you want to connect something to the top of the rack bars, the minor load on your car’s roof won’t have any effect. Read our article on Roof Box Vs Rack.

If you’re worried that leaving your roof racks exposed will make a racket as you drive, check out this how-to tutorial for a simple DIY fix.

Final Thoughts on Driving With an Empty Cargo Box

Even if something is technically possible, it doesn’t guarantee it’s a good idea. When you’re not using your cargo box, it’s advisable to take it off and put it somewhere safe. In doing so, you will extend the life of the carrier and cut down on fuel use. Getting rid of your roof rack is preferable, but it will have far less of an impact than a rooftop cargo box. If you insist on driving with the box in place, be careful to inspect it often to make sure that the seals are tight and the locks work properly.

Products Help you How to Reduce Wind Noise

Thule AeroBlade Edge Flush Mount Rack

YAKIMA – JetStream Bar Aerodynamic Crossbars for Roof Rack Systems

Dakine Long Aero Rack Pad

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Daniel Wisdom
Daniel Wisdom

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