The BMW E46 is one of the most popular early 2000s vehicles that BMW came out with. Ignoring their popularity for street racing, tuning up, and being an absolute menace in the neighborhood with your friends – the E46 was a pretty solid runner whether you were using it for your daily commute or taking your kayak to the lake for the weekend.
Now, the E46 didn’t exactly have the most trunk space. So, what were you to do except fit a E46 roof rack? So, can the E46 fit a roof rack, which roof rack would be best, and how much weight can you carry – let’s get into all of that and more right here and right now.
Can The BMW E46 Fit A Roof Rack?
Yes, the BMW E46 can absolutely fit a roof rack. The early 2000s were a goldmine for roof rack companies and it seemed as if everyone owned one. International travel wasn’t quite as popular as vacationing domestically so naturally, people needed a way to lug more of their belongings around.
The E46 wasn’t necessarily considered a family car so you might not be going off the basis of kids in the back and belongings on the roof, but it’s a possibility. The E46 could even come with a roof rack as standard and in some European markets, the default could even be a roof-mounted bike rack. Not bad going for someone who’s particularly outdoorsy by nature but doesn’t want a big SUV or pickup.
Is There A Factory BMW E46 Roof Rack?
So, the BMW E46 could come with a roof rack fitted as stock, and that naturally made the life of the new owner easier as there was no headache trying to find the right roof rack and then mount it. However, not everyone initially wanted a roof rack nor did every E46 owner buy it new and have any say in whether or not there would be a roof rack when the vehicle left the production line.
Interestingly, you can still go out and purchase stock factory E46 roof racks from BMW. They aren’t quite as common all these years later and they certainly aren’t producing new ones but you can still find the original ones kicking about. Some of them haven’t even been used yet!
What Other E46 Roof Rack Options Are There On The Market?
There are several good roof rack options on the market that you may be interested in if the stock roof rack from BMW doesn’t appeal to you for some reason. First, Thule is a super popular E46 roof rack that has stood the test of time remarkably well. And they still bring out new versions from time to time that would fit the E46 perfectly fine.
However, many people find that they are a bit of a headache to put on and off. Especially if you are trying to do so on your own. Alternatively, the Yakima E46 roof rack is pretty solid and the round cross-bars make the roof rack equally secure as it is easy to use. It is a fair bit easier to mount on your own but isn’t necessarily as well suited for bikes or Kayaks as much as it is for roof boxes.
What Is The Best E46 Roof Rack?
Which is the best E46 roof rack will largely depend on what it is you are going to use it for. If you want a good all-rounder but are best suited for a BMW roof box then obviously the stock/factory roof box from BMW is going to be best. Just in case that wasn’t obvious. However, if you want to go a different direction Thule is probably the winner.
It’s a better all-rounder than everything else on the market and assuming you aren’t trying to load up too much stuff on your own it’s pretty simple to use without sacrificing security. The Thule roof rack that is suitable for the Thule Freeride (bicycle mount) is pretty great value for money and can fit 2-3 bicycles on it comfortably.
Where Can I Put My Mounting Points For My BMW E46 Roof Rack?
The BMW E46 is a bit of a funny one when it comes to mounting a roof rack. So, there are four mounting points positioned above the four doors of the vehicle. Pretty centrally between the top of each door. Which makes mounting your E46 roof rack pretty easygoing as there is only one place you can really mount it. It takes doubt and ambiguity out of the equation.
Which for most of us is a huge difference maker compared to roof racks that require a little bit of rogue confidence to clip them into place and be willing to drive off with your belongings strapped to the roof. This does mean that if whatever you are trying to mount to your roof rack doesn’t quite fit properly re-arranging the mount points for the roof rack isn’t an option.
What Is The Maximum Weight For A BMW E46 Roof Rack?
The BMW E46 is rated for a roof rack that can hold 75kg or 165 lbs., depending on where you are in the world. It is pretty good going for a roof rack, it’s not ridiculous and there are certainly vehicles/roof racks out there that can hold more. But realistically, will you ever be transporting more than 75kg on your roof? Not likely. Unless you plan to bring everything and the kitchen sink 75kg or 165 lbs. should be plenty.
The BMW E46 is definitely one of the better and more beloved vehicles BMW has come out with over the years. Is the roof rack behind the love from the fans? Probably not. But it can’t hurt. Having a roof rack to this day is an incredibly underrated tool at your disposal and to be honest, it even adds to the aesthetic of the car quite a bit. If you are in the market for an E46 Roof Rack either going with the Thule or BMS’s own roof rack is probably the way to go.