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Xterra SE 4x4 V6 NA
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I was preparing for my trip to Grand Canyon yesterday I decided to remove my roof rack before the trip just to see if removing it would have any effect on MPG or noise.
During past trips I always noticed a lot of wind noise at highway speeds.
It was so noisy that I often had to turn my stereo up so that I could hear my music over the noise.

After removing it I was surprised at how much quieter the ride was.
I actually needed to turn my stereo down a couple of notches since most of the wind noise was now gone.

I also noticed that the feel of the throttle was just a little different. It was like I didn't need to press it as hard to maintain speed.

When I fueled up today and took the MPG measurement I discovered that my MPG actually went up slightly.
It was not much, just under a half-mile per gallon.
But since I drive to Grand Canyon ever week or two with it being about roughly 300 miles round trip that extra half-mile per gallon will add up over time.

So unless you need to regularly carry cargo on your roof I advise that the roof rack be removed.
Even if you don't notice the slight increase in MPG the ride will be quieter.
 

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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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Your experience does not shock me, other than the part about the noise.

Years ago, engineers removed the antenna mast from most cars because they could get up to an additional 1/10th mpg.

I bought my 2004 about 800 miles from home. The tires were well-worn with knobby lugs on the edges, and they were super noisy. Last November I bought new tires and now a trip in my X is so nice that I can carry on a conversation at normal levels, and that's with the air dam and roof rack still in place.

Take a look at the air dam to see if it appears to have a gap between it and the roof, which might let it whistle or howl. Look for other signs of noise-causing air resistance.
 

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Xterra SE 4x4 V6 NA
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your experience does not shock me, other than the part about the noise.

Years ago, engineers removed the antenna mast from most cars because they could get up to an additional 1/10th mpg.

I bought my 2004 about 800 miles from home. The tires were well-worn with knobby lugs on the edges, and they were super noisy. Last November I bought new tires and now a trip in my X is so nice that I can carry on a conversation at normal levels, and that's with the air dam and roof rack still in place.

Take a look at the air dam to see if it appears to have a gap between it and the roof, which might let it whistle or howl. Look for other signs of noise-causing air resistance.
That air dam and basket was the first thing I removed when I first got my X.
But I still got a lot of noise from the tubes.
For a long time I was wondering if they might be affecting the MPG because if you're getting a lot of wind noise that means there is also air drag being created.
With the roof rack tubes gone it is not only quieter, but it also looks a little sleeker from the front.

I am thinking of removing my antenna. I see it bend in the wind so it is probably creating a small amount of drag.
I don't really need it since I don't listen to the radio anymore. I just listen to my music through an MP3 player I have hooked up to the stereo.
 

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Xterra SE 4x4 V6 NA
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So… what you’re saying is that you’d avoid something like this:
View attachment 80439
Yes, that would cause a lot of drag if you're going over 45MPH.
I actually carry my spare inside my X because the tire was too big for the underside, and it was too heavy for me to lift onto the roof.
Like I mentioned in the original posting, unless you do a lot of camping or need to carry cargo on the roof, that rack is just a big air brake.
 

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Xterra SE 4x4 V6 NA
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah it’s terrible. Very noisy too. I just leave it up there because it looks cool. I really only drive the xterra on snow days or mountain trips.
Since I drive mine for my photography work I sometimes I need to go on a bouncy backroad.
But most of the time I am on the highway and I drive it at least once a week for my photo trips. I hate loud wind noise so I decided to remove it.
However, I still have it in my garage just in case I need to reinstall it in the future.
 

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01 Xterra 4x4
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67 Posts
What do you do with the mounting holes for the roof rack? I assume there are holes left in the roof after removal of the rack? I get regular snow accumulation on the roof in the winter, and wouldn't want that melting and leaking inside.
 

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Xterra SE 4x4 V6 NA
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What do you do with the mounting holes for the roof rack? I assume there are holes left in the roof after removal of the rack? I get regular snow accumulation on the roof in the winter, and wouldn't want that melting and leaking inside.
I also live in an area that gets snow.
I put a little oil on the original screws and put them back to plug the holes.
When I first removed the rack I noticed a significant amount of rust in the holes and on the screws so I hope the oil will prevent further corrosion and also make it easier to remove the screws if I need to put the rack back at a later time.
 
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