• Kenneth Powell

Mattress on Car Roof: Illegal or Perfectly Fine?

If someone is moving house, the chances are that there's a mattress going too. Alternatively, perhaps someone the person knows has asked for help with a move. Whatever the case may be, maybe all that is available for the move is a car.


Most mattresses can fit atop a car. So, people may think, "what if I ensure that the mattress is securely tied down?" Surely that should be OK, right?


Well, many people have had the same concern. Getting the proper materials to ensure a mattress is properly secure atop a car is one thing. The question is, what if people are not even allowed to have a mattress up there in the first place?


That's what this is all about. No one wants to be arrested for transporting an old or new mattress. The information below covers all there is to consider on the matter.


The Legalities of Having a Mattress Strapped atop Your Car

The Legalities of Having a Mattress Strapped atop Your Car


What does the law have to say about loading up a mattress on the roof of a car? Technically speaking, it says nothing.


Some actions are not prevented by law, but they do fall into a bit of a legal grey area. In other words, while someone may not be arrested for simply having a mattress on a car's roof, it is heavily frowned upon.


Furthermore, if the mattress is affixed to the roof of your car in the wrong way, it can cause legal trouble. This is the case with most actions that can endanger lives.


So, now that the legal element has been covered, it's time to divert the focus to the steps that may be taken to ensure that all loose ends are handled and that transporting the mattress doesn't become a hazard for the driver or other road users.


How to Ensure a Mattress is Properly Secured on Your Roof to Safely Transport It


For those who may not have certain resources available, they may opt to tie the mattress onto the car. If that's the case, then it's recommended to get packaging tape, a mattress bag, work gloves, strong rope, and scissors. It would also help to get someone to assist.


Wrap the Mattress in the Mattress Bag


This is the step that is arguably the most important to prevent challenges with loose ends later on. The idea is to have the mattress wrapped completely in the mattress bag. It's essential to ensure that every loose end is taped in doing so.


Foregoing this step will lead to their flapping in the wind, which can see the plastic bag being ripped clean off the mattress.


Pull the Mattress onto Your Car's Roof


Once the previous step is properly completed, then it's time to haul the mattress atop the car. It must be positioned properly in the middle of the vehicle.


With that done, get the rope and ensure to place it across the mattress using a lengthwise direction. Starting with the front, begin to secure both ends to their respective bumpers. There should be no give whatsoever in the rope. Ensure it is as tight as possible.


A part of this step is ensuring that the positioning keeps the wind from getting underneath the mattress. To achieve this verify that there's a slight dip in the ends.


Note that if there's a box spring in the mix, it's advised to load it up before the mattress.


Tying the Mattress Up


Apart from the driver's, roll down all the windows. The idea here is to use a weaving pattern with the rope, going across the mattress' width and through the open windows. You want no rope sticking out the driver's side of the vehicle.


Remember that the previous step made mention of the rope being as tight as possible, and that piece of advice holds here. Assuming this process is done right, the doors involved in the weaving pattern will not be able to move.


That's why it's essential to leave the driver's door out of the mix. In fact, if there are any passengers, they will need to get in and out of the vehicle through the driver's side until the mattress is removed.


Inspect the Placement and Security of the Mattress


As the heading implies, the idea here is to verify that the placement of everything is as intended. The rope must be properly secured at all ends with no slacking and no loose ends.


Charting Your Path


Obviously, it's essential to drive slowly while a mattress is being transported, but what about the path? The rule of thumb is to avoid busy streets, highways, freeways, or wherever there may be a lot of vehicles.


This is the time to use all the back roads possible. Even with all the securing done to ensure the mattress stays in place, things can still become undone, so be ready to stop, pull over, and check at all times.


Before you take off, do a couple of gentle brake tests in the parking lot just to check that the mattress stays put.


Consider a Better Mattress Transportation Solution, Such as a Roof Rack


The steps above can work. However, it leaves room for concerns and related questions about rope integrity, safety, etc. Therefore, while it's possible to pull off, the recommendation is to opt for a safer mattress transportation method.


For example, using a roof rack provides a lot more security. In fact, while transporting the mattress may not be illegal, in some states, there may be some difficulty in being allowed to move one in the absence of roof racks.


The ratcheting straps synonymous with a roof rack provide a much stronger and more secure method for keeping the load in place. Even strong ropes would have a tough time competing with what ratchet straps can do.


Alternatively, it may also be good to consider not moving the load using a private car. Perhaps hiring a transport trailer or a cargo van may be possible. Putting a mattress on the roof of your car should be a last resort.


What to Avoid as You Transport a Mattress on Your Car's Roof


Lack of Protection


Apart from the security benefit, using a mattress bag also helps to preserve integrity and cleanliness, which is useful considering there will be a lot of debris along with the wind. Also, if the mattress does fall off, it wouldn't get dirty.


Mattress Overhang


There's the potential of falling off, but there's also the fact that too much overhang can become a problem for driver visibility. Avoid overhang at all costs and reposition the mattress if any is noticed.


Stay Weak Rope Free


Ratcheting straps are always recommended. If rope must be used, ensure it's strong. Bungee cords or twine are also not recommended.


Speeding with a Mattress


Stability is enough of a concern at low speed. Higher speeds increase the potential for the mattress to fall off the car. Keep the vehicle moving slowly and steadily at all times.


Concerns Having a Mattress on the Roof of Your Car Can Create


Consider the following drawbacks before loading a mattress on top of a car:


Fuel Consumption


Greater weight always translates to greater fuel consumption. Mattresses can be pretty heavy. Filling up on gas for the journey is always recommended, especially if the distance is long. Keep an eye on fuel levels throughout the trip, topping up where necessary.


Vision Impairment


Again, you don't want to have the overhang be a problem. The best bet for making it to the destination is proceeding safely. Make adjustments quickly if there are any visibility concerns.


Greater Car Accident Risk


Driving with a mattress strapped to a car makes it that much easier to cause an accident. Wind and inertia are both challenges that create great danger.


Mattress Air Lift


While unlikely, wind getting under your mattress can create an airlift, which may present maneuverability concerns.


Here Are a Few Tricks to Remember as You Transport a Mattress

Here Are a Few Tricks to Remember as You Transport a Mattress


Just in case it's unavoidable to use a car to transport a mattress, it at least helps to know a few useful nuggets of information that can maximize the chances of a safe trip. Some of these are as follows:


  • The mattress should be tied to no less than three solid points, though four is recommended. A tighter tie is always a good thing.

  • Longer distances mean that the car will need to bear extra weight for a longer period. Get a tire pressure top-up to be on the safe side.

  • If there is ever a feeling that something looks or feels wrong when driving, stop and check, as it's better to be safe than sorry.


The Bottom Line


While most states have no issue with a bed being tied atop a car, it must be done properly. Remember that this method should only be used as a last resort considering the safety implications.


Get the necessary elements including a mattress bag, rope, work gloves, scissors, etc. Secure the mattress well, ensuring there's no give.


Stick to back roads and move slowly to minimize the accident risk. Pay constant attention to the mattress and stop to make adjustments where necessary.


For further questions and clarifications related to transporting a mattress using a car, consult an auto accident lawyer in St Louis MO today. They can also help address other concerns such as if it's illegal to put a tracker on someone's car or if it's illegal to have led lights inside a car.