Spoilers, splitters and wings: what they do to your car


Posted by: Okenwa Emeka

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Spoilers, splitters and wings are features that make up the exterior of modern day car. Let’s take you through their roles one after the other.

Spoilers, splitters and wings all mean different things but sometimes they are used interchangeably. Are they just for fancy? What exactly are their roles in vehicles? Okay, let’s take them one after the other.

1. Spoilers: functions & types

The spoiler is that raised protrusion or flap on the rear deck lids of vehicles. Although it is designed to add sophistication to a car, it does more than this. It aims to enhance the performance of the car by disrupting air and reducing drag and lift.

They function to decrease up-lift at the tail of the vehicle. Spoilers form obstructions to undesirable flow of air. They reshape flow of air around the vehicle, keeping them from tumbling or creating a swirling column behind the vehicle. Without this, a swirling air can cause drag (which inhibits the fast forward motion of a car) and lift (which decreases a vehicle's grip on the road when on high speed).

Car spoilers come in different shapes and types. First, there is the rear spoiler and the chin spoiler also called front spoilers or air dams. Both serve specific functions as well as add aesthetic value to the vehicle. Rear spoilers come in different styles or types and include:

1.1. Lip spoiler

It should not be confused with the front spoiler. It forms a kind of slender lip on the edge of the vehicle’s trunk. They are usually small-sized but exert powerful effects. They slightly disrupt the air around the vehicle which makes it possible to reduce drag and lift.


Lip spoilers are smaller in size but also help to reduce drag and lift when driving

1.2. Ducktail rear spoiler

Just like its name, it looks like a duck’s tail. It is placed on the top of the trunk forming a slightly tapered wedge shape. Sometimes, it spans the entire length of the trunk, at other times, it doesn’t. It was originally designed for the Porsche but has recently seen an extended use.


The rear duck tail spoiler is seen most often on Porsche

1.3. Pedestal rear spoiler

They have the appearance of a bar placed across the trunk of the vehicle and it is the most commonly found rear spoiler. It hugs closely to the trunk of the car but allows a little gap for air to pass through. With this type of spoiler, a small amount of downforce is created which improve the control of a rear-wheel-drive car.


Pedestal rear spoiler allows a gap for air to pass through

1.4. Roof spoilers

They are common with sedans although they were primarily installed on hatchbacks. They function at the top of the back windshield to disrupt the flow of air even before it gets to the trunk of the vehicle.


Roof spoilers are mostly placed on hatchback cars

>>> Spoilers and wings are not the only innovation in automobile engineering. Check out this Outstanding invention for absent-minded people: fingerprint lock in Hyundai Santa Fe 2019

2. Car Wings: not just for aesthetic value

Wing in cars is similar to that found in airplanes except the ones in car seem to be an upside-down version of that found in airplanes. Hence, instead of opposing gravity to lift the car, it pushes the car against the ground. Most times, they are mounted on raised pedestals to effectively catch undisturbed flow of air. Many of them can be adjusted using adjustment holes. In this way, you can change the angle of the wing’s plane for different levels of resistance.

Wings are made of different materials such as plastics, aluminium, fiberglass and different types of carbon fibre.

Functions of wings

Just like the spoilers, wings reduce up-lift of the vehicle (they generate a down force) using a mechanism different from that of the spoilers. Spoilers reshape air current while wings catch the airstreams; push the air up while pushing the rear of the car down.

A specific design called whale tail wing is said to help decrease oversteer when cornering.


Whale tail wing is said to help decrease oversteer when cornering

3. Car Splitters

A splitter is a horizontal shelf mounted to the front of a vehicle or under the air dam. It gives the appearance of a flat scoop. It is designed to separate incoming air at the lower edge of the vehicle. It does this by acting as a wedge, which sends the high-speed, low pressure air below the vehicle and the low-speed, high pressure air above and over the car.

They are made of different materials such as plastics, carbon fibre and fibreglass. Because the downforce produced from differences in air pressure can be intense on the splitters, small rods made of metals often support them.


The front spoilers increase front wheel traction

The overall effect produced by the spoilers, splitters and wings is to reduce vehicle lift and increase front wheel traction. This makes for increased grip when on a high speed.

>>> Broaden your mind with more auto knowledge on Naijauto.com everyday!

Okenwa Emeka
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Okenwa Emeka

Okenwa Emeka


Okenwa Emeka is a prolific writer who combines his content creation skills with a strong passion for automobiles to make engaging articles for Naija car lovers. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing CAM with a diploma in digital marketing. 


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