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From the 2010 Escape Owners Manual, page 89:

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ROOF RACK SYSTEM (IF EQUIPPED)

Loads should never be placed directly on the roof panel. For proper function of the roof rack system, loads must be placed directly on crossbars affixed to the roof rack side rails. Your vehicle may be equipped with factory-installed crossbars. Ford Genuine Accessory crossbars, designed specifically for your vehicle, are also recommended for use with your roof rack system.

The vehicle's roof panel is NOT designed to directly carry a load. The maximum recommended load is 100 lb (45 kg), evenly distributed on the crossbars. Ensure that the load is securely fastened. When the rail system is loaded, check the tightness of the load, including the thumbwheels before driving and at each fuel stop.

WARNING: When loading the roof rail crossbars, it is recommended to evenly distribute the load, as well as maintain a low center of gravity. Loaded vehicles, with higher centers of gravity, may handle differently than unloaded vehicles. Extra precautions, such as slower speeds and increased stopping distance, should be taken when driving a heavily loaded vehicle.
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I've never used the roof cross bars, in fact I removed them but carry them in the rear cargo area just in case. They get in the way of proper snow removal and I've had snow slide off the top covering my windshield. :cuss:

They aren't made flat but slightly bowed, so whatever your carrying isn't sitting flat. I don't understand why they are made this way.
 

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The aftermarket load bars have higher weight limits than the stock load bars. For example, the Thule load bars have a 165lb load limit. You need to consider how that load is applied to the bars and the vehicle.
 
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