DIY Dual Cup Suction Lifter Temporary Car Roof Rack




I often rent cars to travel long distances. There are time I need to carry big things on the top of my rental or my little 1993 Honda Civic. There are times I need to transport a piece of furniture from IKEA. The closest one is about 250 miles from where I live. I also have carried bundles of trims and 10 foot lumber on my DIY car roof rack.

In this example I needed to carry two 8'-2" x 26" butcher block counter tops that I bought from IKEA. I will also share pictures of my Honda with the DIY Rack and how I transported a futon on a rental SUV.

Step 1: Materials Used

I bought four dual cup suction lifters from Harbor Freight. These are rated for 125 lb. The 37 sq inches of dual suction cups distribute the load evenly on the car top.

Additionally, I purchase Ratchet Tie-Downs (4-Pack) from Home Depot.

You can also add two 3/4"Ø x 4'-0" galvanized iron or black iron pipe, or 4'-0" 2x4 pieces of lumber, and elastic ball loop bungees to build a frame.

Step 2: Placing the Dual Cup Suction Lifters

I placed the four suction lifters on the roof of the car 2'-6". They are 2'-6" center from one side of the car to the other side. The distance between the front set of cups to the one at the rear was dependent on the length of the item I need to carry on top and also to clear the curvature of the roof.

I observed that the roof is stronger closer to the front and rear glass and closer to the doors. You will notice that as you press the cups on the roof and feel the flex.

Step 3: Threading the Straps

I then threaded the straps through the handle of the suction lifters.

Step 4: Loading the Kitchen Counter Top

I placed the counter tops on the handle of the lifters.

Step 5: Tying It All Down

The straps were wrapped around the counter top and ratcheted inside the car. Do this with the doors open else you cannot get into the car. Forgot to take a picture from inside with the ratchet. I will include one when I put up another one on my car.

Step 6: My Honda Ready for an Art Festival

I have packed two 12 x 12 canopy tents with sides, tables, gridwall panels, mannequins, merchandise, lighting and food among other stuff. I traveled 200+ miles with my stuff.

Step 7: Unpacking My Honda

Two canopy tents worth packed in a 1993 Honda Civic when it is unfurled.

Step 8: Transporting a Futon

Transported a futon for 600 miles on a rental vehicle.

Step 9: ​List of Other Instructables I Have Written



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    8 Discussions


    4 weeks ago

    Superb idea. Thank you so much. I've got to shift a ladder next week and was on the verge of spending a fair wedge of cash on a roofrack I'll rarely use.


    7 months ago

    INCRED, good story. I, Kevin, in- Sydney, took a wrong 2 Door car Nov, 22, 2,014. with an Un-usual {BAD} side profil,e Above,- Hinged, Small, Rear, windows &, there is Only 1 brand of Roof { BARS } In, UN-lucky AUSTralia, for this BARINA (a Korean "Kia", some- thing ?. So being 4 YRS now, IS how Long, i've Waited, to Solve my LACK of, having a Facilty of common place ROOF BARS.- This CAR has a LGE FLAT, Roof area..Which is a Bleesing but - does NOT take away, 1 Bit of frustration, of - Not enjoying, Roof BARS, bring in place. Finding This Page &, its Evident Success is GREAT< - But, - there is possibly a BIG hazzle, to Obtain the "Lifters, with", Suction caps, in Sydney, to SUIT, as per the PICtures.. But, will TRY..-- THANK you, -- for, the Very Help-ful, information.

    2 years ago

    A car's roofplate is quite thin steel. Some common sense and caution should be used while transporting this way.

    Having said that: This is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing!

    p.s. That poor Civic has a rough life...

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    There are times when I have put an additional lifter in the middle to distribute the load. My 1993 Honda is a work horse. It's roof is solid and does not flex.


    2 years ago

    A roof rack you can store in a compact bag or box when you don't need it! I can see a trip to Harbor Freight in my near future.


    2 years ago

    Very practical. Can definitely use this.

    Left-field Designs

    2 years ago

    Great idea and even if you leave them in empty they will have a lesser impact in your mpg as they are lower profile and smaller than roof bars