Do Rooftop Tents Damage The Roof? (Should You Consider It?)

Do Rooftop Tents Damage The Roof? (Should You Consider It?)

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A rooftop tent is a portable tent that one attaches to their car’s roof. Rooftop tents come with hard or soft tops and can be bought from household manufacturers such as Yakima. If you are considering going camping and using a rooftop tent rather than a camper, the question arises, do rooftop tents damage the roof of your car?

The most impactful damage that rooftop tents cause is damage to your car’s suspension. Rooftop tents weigh at least 150 pounds. This weight could impact a car’s center of gravity, thus leading to accidents. Moreover, this weight could result in dents on your car’s roof, and prolonged attachment to the roof could result in permanent damage.

If you are considering using a rooftop tent for your camping needs for a prolonged period, it is essential to question whether it damages your roof and if you should consider using it.

What Extent of Damage Do Rooftop Tents Cause to The Roof of Your Car?

Here are a few ways that rooftop tents cause damage to the roof of your car:

1. Extra Weight on the Roof of the Car

The major problem with rooftop tents is their weight when placed directly on a vehicle’s roof. While the tent might be light, it usually has mattresses and sleeping bags inside, adding extra weight to the tent. 

When two or more people sleep inside the tent, the roof has to accommodate even more stress from the aggregate weight.

2. Dents and Scratches on the Roof of the Car

One could also scratch or dent their car with many failed attempts to load the rooftop tent. Due to this, most people bolt the rooftop tents in their vehicle’s roofs for a few months at least. This means the tent will be a persistent stress in a vehicle’s roof the entire time it is bolted in.

3. Potential Roof Breakage

Commonly, the majority of roof racks are designed to hold a capacity of 150 pounds. According to NYT, this is approximately the average weight of a rooftop tent when it is empty, not occupied by people or other extra things. 

By overloading the rooftop tent, one could break their pricey roof racks or dent their car roofs.

4. Interference With a Car’s Center of Gravity

Although a rooftop tent is reasonably light, it usually comes packed with other accessories, such as ladders and mattresses. This weight could impact a car’s center of gravity, thus leading to accidents. 

Smaller cars, such as Sedans, are at a higher risk of an imbalanced center of gravity, which means that rooftop tents might damage the roof and throw the cars off their center of gravity.

5. It Decreases a Car’s Gas Mileage

The support ladders and poles that come together with rooftop tents damage the roof of a car. They are often stored inside the rooftop tent while traveling, occupying only a little space inside the vehicle.

With the roof damaged or dented, the car has to take more of the weight, which could accumulate, and it might deeply decrease a car’s gas mileage.

6. The Driving Weight Damages the Roof

The driving weight refers to the weight a car can carry while in motion. This weight is usually lower than the static weight since wind resistance and other energies and forces are exerted when a car moves. Therefore, the additional weight of a rooftop tent can damage a car’s roof due to the driving weight.

Should You Consider It?

Rooftop tents are not necessarily destructive to your vehicle. As a driver, you should adhere to the weight limitations of the particular kind of car you drive and dutifully stick to the instructions for assembling the tent. 

However, wrongly installing the tent might detach from the car’s roof, leading to severe damage. Here are some reasons you should not consider installing a rooftop tent on your vehicle.

1. Damage to a Car’s Suspension

The most impactful damage that rooftop tents cause is damage to your car’s suspension. Rooftop tents weigh at least 150 pounds. This weight could impact a car’s center of gravity, thus leading to accidents. When a rooftop tent has too much weight, it may damage the vehicle’s structure and result in an imbalance.

2. Unnecessary Strain on Specific Parts of the Car

When installing a rooftop tent, it is essential to ensure even weight distribution. Uneven weight distribution may result in unnecessary strain on specific car parts. Continued stress and weight strain may damage a car’s roof racks and the entire roof.

3. Reduced Mileage

Despite an excellent third-party rack fitted to your vehicle, the tent’s weight may affect the car’s mileage. The added drag and weight result in reduced mileage. Of course, this depends on the vehicle you are using, but in the long run, the added weight is detrimental to a car’s mileage the longer it stays on its roof.

4. Uncomfortable Night’s Sleep

Rooftop tent owners have repeatedly reported that it is quite a struggle to sleep in the tents every night for an extended period. The car must be parked on a very level and flat surface before the owner sets up camp. Camping on uneven terrain may result in an uncomfortable night of sleep.

5. Long-Term Damage to The Roof of Your Car

Although it depends on the type of car, prolonged installation of a rooftop tent to the roof of your vehicle might dent and scratch your roof. Even if the tent might be lightweight, other accessories add up to make up more weight. 

This weight could dent the roof of your car, resulting in expensive damage to your vehicle.

6. The Costs Outweigh the Benefits

A basic rooftop tent costs about $1,500. However, the tents are much cheaper in general. The experience of sleeping and relaxing on the top of your car is priceless.

Final Comments

Rooftop tents have become increasingly popular among outdoor enthusiasts as they provide a convenient way to camp and explore the great outdoors. However, many people are concerned that using a rooftop tent may damage the roof of their vehicle.

In general, if installed and used correctly, rooftop tents should not damage the roof of your vehicle. 

Most rooftop tents are designed to distribute weight evenly across the vehicle’s roof and come with mounting hardware specifically designed to be compatible with the roof of your vehicle.

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