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What does a spoiler do?

May. 10, 2021

What does a spoiler do?

The spoiler should change the airflow above, around, and below the vehicle to reduce wind resistance (or drag), or use air to generate more downforce and gain more grip at high speeds. They are designed to "spoil" the airflow to reduce its negative effects.

In the 1960s, as automakers sought to improve the aerodynamics (management of the airflow around the vehicle) of racing cars and high-performance vehicles, spoilers became popular. Later, federal fuel economy regulations prompted automakers to improve the aerodynamics of all vehicles to produce higher mileage ratings. A car with low wind resistance consumes less fuel when driving on the highway.

When it comes to the term "spoiler", most people might think of an airfoil spoiler sitting on the upper deck cover, but spoilers are also used to direct air to the sides at the front, so less go the following. The side "skirts" along with the rocker panels also act as spoilers.

As the speed of the vehicle increases, the aerodynamic resistance increases, making it more difficult for the engine to maintain speed. More air enters the bottom of the vehicle, creating "lift", which reduces the grip and makes the vehicle more unstable. The front spoiler reduces the amount of air under the vehicle. At the rear of the car, the airflow tends to be more turbulent and generate more lift, and the spoiler generates more downforce to keep the vehicle firmly placed on the road.

But the spoiler is only part of the aerodynamic map, and it may only be a small part. The shape and height of the car, the size of the grille, the shape of the front bumper and headlights, the design of the roof, rear windows and trunk, and other factors all play an important role in controlling the airflow.

Automakers spend millions of dollars to polish their aerodynamics before they go on the market to improve fuel economy, stability at high speeds and reduce wind noise. The only spoiler Many vehicles have a front bumper under the air dam and a modest "lip" spoiler integrated into the trunk lid. Some high-performance models have more prominent rear spoilers or wings placed above the trunk, but this does not necessarily mean that they are more aerodynamic or can run faster.

A well-designed rear wing will generate downforce like an inverted airplane wing, rather than lift, but sticking any accessories to the exterior of the car will definitely destroy the aerodynamics of the design. A poorly designed wing can even impair fuel economy, top speed, or stability.

It is worth noting that the manufacturers of this performance model usually do not claim that they improve aerodynamics or downforce. This may be a default, they are more for performance than to go. Distributors and after-sales companies also sell spoilers, wings, and other "aero" hardware, but usually, they are mainly used for decoration.

Spoilers can also have a counter-intuitive effect.

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