How to Install a Roof Rack on a Volkswagen Atlas with a Panoramic Sunroof?

April 5, 2024

Whether you’re planning a road trip or simply need extra space to haul your gear, installing a roof rack on your Volkswagen Atlas can significantly increase your vehicle’s cargo capacity. However, if your car features a panoramic sunroof, the process might appear daunting. Thankfully, this guide will walk you through the process, ensuring a seamless installation while preserving the integrity of your sunroof and the overall safety of your vehicle.

Understanding the Volkswagen Atlas Premium and SEL Models

Before we dive into the installation process, it’s crucial to understand the vehicle we’re dealing with. The Volkswagen Atlas comes in different models, each boasting unique features that affect how a roof rack should be installed. This article primarily focuses on the Premium and SEL models, which come with a panoramic sunroof – a feature that offers grandiose views but poses a unique challenge when installing a roof rack.

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The Volkswagen Atlas SEL and Premium models are designed for comfort and style, balancing power and control with luxurious features. Despite their sporty look, these models are surprisingly family-friendly with ample interior space. The panoramic sunroof is an eye-catching feature, giving an open-air feel that passengers in all three rows can enjoy. However, when it comes to installing cross bars on these models, extra care must be taken to avoid damaging this sunroof.

Choosing the Right Roof Rack for Your Volkswagen Atlas

The first step in installing a roof rack is choosing the right one. Not all roof racks are made equal, and choosing the wrong one might not only cause damage to your car but also put your safety at risk. When searching for a roof rack for your Volkswagen Atlas with a panoramic sunroof, pay attention to the product’s compatibility, weight capacity, and installation requirements.

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Amazon offers a great selection of roof racks compatible with the Volkswagen Atlas. Look for cross bars designed specifically for your vehicle model to ensure a perfect fit. Consider options like the SportRack Complete Roof Rack System or the CargoLoc Roof Top Aluminum Cross Bars, both highly rated for their quality and ease of installation.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Installation

Once you have your roof rack, it’s time to prepare your vehicle for installation. Remember, the aim here is not just to secure the rack but to do so without compromising your panoramic sunroof.

Start by cleaning the roof of your vehicle thoroughly. Dirt and debris can cause scratches during the installation process. Then, measure the distance between the mounting points on your vehicle roof, usually marked by small indents or doors. This will help ensure the cross bars are evenly spaced and mounted properly.

Installing the Roof Rack on Your Volkswagen Atlas

Now to the main event: installing the roof rack. While the process might vary slightly depending on the brand and type of cross bars you have, the basic steps should be roughly the same.

After confirming that the length of the bars matches the distance between the mounting points, position the cross bars across the roof of your Volkswagen Atlas. Then, using the tools provided with the roof rack (usually a wrench or specialized tool), tighten the rack onto the mounting points until it is secure. Be careful not to over-tighten as this can lead to damage.

As you do this, always keep the panoramic sunroof in mind. Make sure the cross bars do not obstruct its operation in any way. It’s always a good idea to test the sunroof after installing each bar to make sure it opens and closes smoothly.

Ensuring Safety After Installation

Installation doesn’t end after attaching the roof rack to your Volkswagen Atlas. You need to ensure that the rack is secure and safe to use. Test the installation by applying pressure to the bars – they should not move or flex.

Also, consider the weight capacity of both your Volkswagen Atlas and the roof rack. Overloading can damage your vehicle, compromise the rack’s stability, and even affect your vehicle’s control on the road. Always distribute the weight evenly across the bars and secure your cargo properly before hitting the road.

Finally, remember to occasionally check the tightness of the cross bars, particularly after long drives or when carrying heavy loads. This will help maintain the rack’s stability and increase its lifespan.

Installing a roof rack on a Volkswagen Atlas with a panoramic sunroof requires some thought and care. However, with the right tools, information, and patience, it should be a task within your reach.

Checking Compatibility and Load Capacity

When you’ve chosen the right roof rack for your Volkswagen Atlas and properly prepared your vehicle, you need to be sure that the roof rack is compatible with your Atlas model. Most manufacturers provide a list of compatible vehicles for their products. Ensure that your Volkswagen Atlas, whether it’s a cross sport or SEL premium model, is listed.

Another crucial factor to consider is the load capacity of both your roof rack and the vehicle itself. This information is usually found in the product specifications for the roof rack and in the owner’s manual for the Atlas. Remember that the weight capacity is the maximum weight that the rack can safely support. Overloading can cause significant damage to both the rack and your vehicle.

If you’re planning to use the roof rack for specific gear or equipment, make sure it can safely accommodate them. For example, if you’re going to transport a kayak, make sure the roof rack is designed to handle that type of load.

Reputable brands like Brightlines offer roof racks specifically designed for the Volkswagen Atlas, ensuring a perfect fit and ease of installation. These roof racks come with anti-theft features, providing additional security for your gear.

Maintenance and Care of Your Roof Rack

Once you’ve successfully installed your roof rack, routine maintenance is essential to keep it in top condition and extend its lifespan. Simple steps like cleaning the rack regularly, especially after trips, can prevent rust and corrosion.

Check the tightness of the cross bars, particularly after long drives or when carrying heavy loads. Vibrations from your vehicle can cause the bars to loosen over time, potentially compromising the stability of the rack and the safety of your load.

Additionally, always inspect the roof rack and the mounting points for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice any issues, it’s best to address them immediately to prevent further problems down the line.

Finally, when not in use, consider removing the roof rack. Keeping it on when it’s not needed can affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and create unnecessary drag. Plus, removing it can also prevent potential theft.


In conclusion, installing a roof rack on a Volkswagen Atlas with a panoramic sunroof can certainly seem challenging, but with careful preparation and the right tools, it’s an achievable task. The increased cargo capacity provided by the installation can make road trips and outdoor adventures more enjoyable.

Just remember to select a rack that is compatible with your Volkswagen Atlas, be mindful of the weight capacity, and take extra care during the installation to ensure your panoramic sunroof remains functional. With these points in mind, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of your new roof rack. Happy travels!