Every now and again I see a Ute that has something tying the canopy to the main part of the cab, and I cringe, knowing full well what is going on, and what will ultimately happen if its kept that way.
If you take a close look at a Ute, you’ll see that they are made as a separate part of the vehicle, and are completely unattached to the cab from the factory, and that’s because they need to move independently.
If you don’t understand what I mean, the Ute part of your vehicle (behind the cab) moves separately to the actual body of the vehicle, and if you lock them together something is going to break. In the same way that your Bull Bar is mounted to the chassis and is nice and separate from your body there needs to be isolation between the two.
I’ve seen my Dmax canopy move extensively off road, and it will do it on the road when you go over a curb, or you hit a pot hole. Most people installing canopies will leave at least 40mm clearance between the vehicle and the canopy, as it will move and twist and if you have it too close you’ll end up with a dent, or scrub marks.
Most awnings are quite long, and the temptation to install it between the cab and the canopy can be very high. This is amplified when you have a dual cab Ute, and I’ve seen people bolt majority of the awning to the canopy with one support on the roof of the vehicle. If you do this, you’ll either bend the awning, flog the brackets out, snap something or damage the roof mount of your vehicle.
Long Roof Racks
You can get some pretty long racks, and I’ve seen people make secondary supports up on either the cab or the canopy. Don’t do this, unless you want to put stress on things that were never intended to have it.
Roof Top Tents
You can pay a huge chunk of money for a Roof Top Tent. Whilst they start off in the hundreds of dollars, you can spend 3 – 5k on some of the top end ones, and getting them mounted well is imperative. Roof top tents are also heavy, which means that good weight positioning and distribution is important.
On many Utes, I’d be most inclined to mount them on the cab of the vehicle to bring some weight forward of the rear axle. This might hurt your fuel economy more than having it rear mounted, but at least your chances of a bent chassis and an overloaded vehicle are much less.
Do not mount part of it on the canopy with the remaining section on the cab, or you’ll break something.
Can you load things between the two?
If you have a kayak, or timber, or something you want to move then you’ll get away with distributing the weight between two sections, but don’t do it as a permanent installation, and have some consideration for what is going to want to move. Expensive kayaks can be damaged when things move, and you really want to avoid that!
Never noticed the flex?
If you’ve never noticed how a Ute flexes independently to the cabin, don’t feel bad. It’s not something you’d think of, and I only noticed it after I saw my Hilux canopy shake around incredibly when bouncing my way down a beach. Next time you see a 4WD Ute off road, have a look at how much things move around; its pretty amazing