Hauling stuff on a car with no roof rack
June 25, 2014 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to haul a portable dishwasher strapped on top of a Ford Taurus?

We are in the market for a portable dishwasher and would like to buy one on Craigslist in the next week or two. I really don't want to have to rent a truck from Uhaul or Home Depot to go pick it up, and I'm hoping that I can somehow get it home in my 99 Taurus.

It looks like these things are about 150 lbs. I don't have a roof rack (and I don't think it's worth getting one, since we probably won't have this car for a whole lot longer). Is it still possible to strap the thing down using ratcheting tie down straps and a little common sense?

(I've read this AskMe about roof racks on Mazda 5s).
posted by rossination to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
Perhaps you could fit it part way into the cars trunk and use tie-downs to secure it.
posted by axismundi at 2:56 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure how large this thing is, but are you 100% sure you can't fit it in the car?

You'd be surprised how large an object can fit in even a smallish two-door car by putting the passenger seat down flat like a dentist's chair and sliding it in diagonally. Your instinct is to try to move the seat *forward,* but laying it flat opens up an amazing amount of space!
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:58 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Three objections:
1. Lifting that 150 pounds overhead to get it up on the roof, then lifting it again to get it down: way not safe for the liftees.
2. Could the car's roof even support 150 pounds without caving in, even a little?
3. Slick car paint, slick dishwasher paint.... I'm picturing giant gouges down your car roof and over the trunk, before the dishwasher hits the road. And if you use some sort of heavy-duty blanket between them as protection? Even slicker.

Got any friends with a pickup truck, maybe?
posted by easily confused at 3:03 PM on June 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Most portable dishwashers need to stay upright or they will break (ask me how I know :/ ). So if your plan involves strapping it sideways instead of vertically, you're already in for trouble.
posted by Mchelly at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

And you don't have a single friend with a van or a pickup truck?

Don't give up on the Taurus trunk until you test with an empty box.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:19 PM on June 25, 2014

Is it possible to haul a portable dishwasher strapped on top of a Ford Taurus?


Longer answer...Yes, you probably can do it. However, given how securely you'll have to tie it down, you almost certainly will crease/bend/crush the sheetmetal.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:39 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

A Thule roof rack can be adapted to another car by simply getting different side brackets. (The bottom-most metal piece that hooks under the door frame in this image.)

Another option if you have a tow hitch on this car is to get a cargo carrier platform that securely attaches to it, like this one.
posted by the big lizard at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2014

Lowe's rents in town trucks for like $20 for a day.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:02 PM on June 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Is it still possible to strap the thing down using ratcheting tie down straps and a little common sense?

No. It'd be very dangerous, unlikely to be secured effectively (and hence a danger to others should it come loose or you were to have an accident), and would also likely damage your car. It is irresponsible to do so and also very much unwise.

I don't think it's worth getting one, since we probably won't have this car for a whole lot longer

Good quality roof racks fit a range of vehicles, not just on particular one. But a less morally strong person such as myself would potentially consider buying one, using it carefully and not damaging it (cling wrap?) and then taking it back to the store for a refund.

Obviously I would never condone such a thing, but it is a shit load safer than trying to put a 150lb of sharp steel projectile death-smashing lump onto a smooth and shiny car roof.
posted by Brockles at 4:27 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can rent a truck from Lowe's by the hour.

But, academically, I'd say you have two things you need to be concerned with:

1. Can the roof hold 150 pounds. Press on it, see what happens.

2. How do you keep the damn thing from shifting around without scratching the shit out of your car? You might be able to do it with a rubber mat.

Would I do either of these things? Nope.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:33 PM on June 25, 2014

Can you haul it in a trailer? Might be easy to rig something up if the car has a trailer hitch.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:42 PM on June 25, 2014

Best answer: I don't think this is a very good idea since you're putting your fellow drivers at risk. Is it worth the risk of seriously injuring someone? I know someone whose family member was killed when an improperly secured item fell off someone else's car and into his windshield.
posted by parakeetdog at 6:03 PM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

No, not without:

a) probably caving in your roof, which would affect the resale value considerably
b) possibly giving yourself or your helper(s) a hernia getting it up and down from there
c) possibly breaking the washer
d) possibly injuring / killing someone if it falls off while you're driving
e) ruining your window seals and /or screwing up your doors because they are your only tie-down points, and ratchet straps exert a LOT of pressure
f) getting a hefty ticket if a cop decides what you are doing constitutes a hazard

Also worth noting is that you won't have a good front and rear attachment points unless you use large hooks under the bumpers, which are not made to hold weight like that. Most cars do not have tow-hooks in both the front and the back, so there is a real risk the washer will slip off the back or the front, crush a windshield on the way down, and get run over by you or the person behind you, thus delivering you into the American hell of Lawsuit City. Not a pretty thought.

On the balance, I would say rent a truck for $20 from a hardware store and save yourself the headache.
posted by ananci at 6:40 PM on June 25, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, internet, you win!

Good news, though: we found a small 18" portable dishwasher for sale in our neighborhood and we were able to pick it up in my wife's Smart car. So I guess strapping the thing to the roof wasn't necessary after all...
posted by rossination at 7:39 PM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just fyi, I've transported lots of large and/or heavy items on smallish cars. I have a moving quilt to protect the paint because scratched paint = rust. I have foam pipe insulation, into which I have put bungee cords, and I use 2 of them as a makeshift roof rack. I have lots of bungee cords and rope, and am able to secure items to the roof very safely. Use common sense, and be ridiculously cautious about securing things well, but cars are pretty sturdy.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2014

I hauled a slightly larger than dorm sized fridge in my Neon . I removed the passenger seat. It opened up an immense amount of usable space
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2014

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