Roof loads and height-restricted areas

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Knowing the height of your car can contribute to a smoother and safer drive and can help prevent accidents and damage to your vehicle and property.

Although it's something you rarely think about, the height of your car can make a big difference to your driving experience. If your car is loaded with anything from a canoe to a ladder, these can impact on where you are able to drive.

Going shopping? Many car parks have height restrictions.

For many car and SUV drivers, vehicle height ranges from 1.5m to 1.8mi. Once a load is added on the roof however, the height can vary considerably. For example, placing a bike upright in a bike carrier on the roof can increase a car's height by more than a metreii. While this is not a problem on most public roads - although there are exceptionsiii - it will stop you from entering many car parks. Worse still, if you forget the height of your car with the bike on top, and try and enter a restricted height space, it can cause damage to your car, bike and bike carrier, as well as possibly to the infrastructure of the car park.

So when driving with items on your car roof, be it furniture, camping or sports equipment, roof boxes or luggage, it's important to be aware of the overall height of your vehicle and drive with care.

Vehicle height tips

Some tips to remember the next time you travel with a load on the roof of your car:

  1. Measure your car and be conscious of the height when driving. The height of your vehicle is taken from the base of any tyre to the highest point of your load on the roof of your cariv.
  2. If you regularly have an item on your roof, such as a roof box or bike in a carrier, add a sticker with the combined height to the inside of your windscreen so you can easily check it when necessary.
  3. Don't break the legal height limit in your state or territory. (The legal height of vehicles allowed to travel in general access areas is 4.3m or belowv with or without a load.)
  4. Where possible keep the height of your vehicle with load as low as possible. This will make it possible to drive in height restricted areas such as shopping centre car parks and under low bridges, tunnels or underpasses.
  5. Remember it's not just man-made objects that can cause problems. If your vehicle is high beware of tree branches when driving, particularly when parking.
  6. Keep an eye out for low clearance roads. For example, in NSW, Victoria Bridge on Prince St in Picton has a 2.3m restriction and Pampoolah Road under Pampoolah Floodway, near Taree, has a 2.4m clearanceiii.
Add a sticker with the combined height of your roof box and car to the inside of your windscreen for easy reference.

Knowing the height of your car - with or without a load on the roof - can prevent accidents and damage to your vehicle and other property. Car insurance can protect you financially from car accidents and theft. Get a quote for car insurance from Allianz today.

i Subaru, 2013, Forester 2.0i / 2.5i Specifications,

ii, Bicycle Size Guide,

iii NSW Roads and Maritime Services, 2011, Bridge Vertical Clearance 4.3m,

iv Vic Roads, 2009, General Vehicle Mass and Dimension Limits,

v National Transport Commission, 2012, Bridge Vertical Clearance,