Q: Yesterday, I saw a small car hauling a mattress on the roof, and today I saw a Christmas tree on the roof cab of a pickup. Can you use the roof of your car to haul cargo?

A: Thank you for your question. I recommend that you consider how far you have to travel, what is the vehicle's size and the size and weight of the object being transported.

Hauling a mattress on the roof of your car is a bad idea because:

  • It can block your line of vision,
  • If the wind gets underneath the front of the mattress, it may provide temporary lift to your car resulting in potentially losing control of the vehicle,
  • If the tie-down straps break, it could cause an accident.

Minnesota Statute 169.80 Subdivision 3, states that no passenger-type vehicle shall be operated on any highway with any load carried thereon extending beyond the line of the fenders on the left side of such vehicle nor extending more than 6 inches beyond the line of the fenders on the right side thereof.

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My recommendation is to ask a friend or neighbor who has a truck or trailer to haul the mattress for you or have it shipped to your front door.

Minnesota State Statute 169.52 states that when the load upon any vehicle extends to the rear 4 feet or more beyond the bed or body of such vehicle, there shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of the load, at the times when lighted lamps on vehicles are required in this chapter, a red light or lantern plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear. The light or lantern required under this section shall be in addition to the rear light required upon every vehicle. When no lights are required, a red, yellow or orange flag or cloth, not less than 16 inches square shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of the load.

Please ensure that whatever cargo you are hauling is securely tied or strapped down before you hit the road. Double-check that the cargo will not shift (over the side or rear of the vehicle) when you hit a pothole, go up a steep hill, or when you step on the brakes. The cargo must stay within the legal limits throughout the duration of the trip.


1. Minnesota Statute 169.52 Projecting Load; Light or Flag. Located online at www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/2020/cite/169.52

2. Minnesota Statute 169.80 Size, Weight, Load. Locate online at www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/2020/cite/169.80

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