I have made no secret about how much I dislike the factory roof rack fitted to my FJ Cruiser. It’s noisy, ugly and pretty much useless at carrying loads, unless you spend a fortune on bits and bobs trying to upgrade it.
A high-quality roof rack that will last the distance. Looks terrific and has loads of optional accessories available to enhance your camping trips.
Rather than put lipstick on a pig, I decided I wanted to start from scratch and fit a flat tray-style roof rack to maximise storage space in what is a fairly small four-wheel drive.
Why Front Runner? Well, I’ve installed a few of them in the past and found them to be super-high-quality. Secondly, they look fantastic on the FJ. Another key reason for choosing Front Runner was the large number of cool accessories that are available, ranging from slide-out tables, recovery board mounts and a barbecue grill. I now have quite the wish list for future upgrades now that I’ve installed the roof rack. It was also in stock and ready to ship, which is half the battle these days.
So, what did I learn about installing the Front Runner Slimline II roof rack to my FJ Cruiser on my own? First mistake was trying to do this on my own. The job itself isn’t hard, but having a helping hand to guide you through the instructions (which you really need to read), and then lifting the platform into position is required. Still, I managed to do it solo in my driveway, but I’d never do that again. Lesson learned.
Secondly, you need really good quality silicone to seal the roof before installing the rack, and this isn’t included. Make sure you grab a tube of the good stuff from your hardware store before spinning spanners.
Tool-wise, you don’t need much more than a few basics like Allen keys, ratchet spanners and, in my case, a T40 torx bit to remove the factory roof rack. That was the second step in the process; the first being to ensure you clean the heck out of your roof before installing the new roof rack, especially a white roof like the FJ Cruiser.
With the factory roof rack removed and put on top of my rubbish bin where it belongs, I set about building the rails that secure the platform to the roof. These are a two-piece unit, so you need to bolt them together first. I applied a liberal amount of silicon around the captive holes in the roof, and then bolted the now-assembled rails down with the supplied hardware – which is of very good quality.
The next step was to assemble the Slimline II tray which comes as a flatpack – and installing a Front Runner roof rack is kind of like putting together an Ikea DIY pack but for four-wheel drivers. Find the two end pieces, arrange the slats to where they need to be, and bolt it all together. It takes a bit of time, but it’s certainly not what I’d call hard and I’d absolutely recommend you have a crack.
Now it was time to install the supplied wind deflector to the front of the tray and bolt it on the mounting rails. A helping hand sure would have been appreciated here, but I’m not a patient man. So once the tray was in position, it was simply a case of bolting it to the rails ... and job done.
I’m stoked with how it came out. Not only does it look great, it’s not loud at all on the highway. Sure, there is a bit of wind noise, but it’s not an annoying howl. My fuel economy has risen slightly post-installation, going from 11.0L/100km to 12.2L/100km, but I fully expected that.
Next up, I’ll be installing a range of Front Runner accessories to the roof rack, and testing them out over the next few months. Stay tuned for a full review on the Front Runner Slimline II roof rack and accessories after I put them through their paces, with plenty of touring and camping trips planned.