What Kind of Spoiler is Right for You?

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Diagram Of Car Aerodynamics

The function of a rear spoiler is to control the flow of air streaming over a vehicle and properly manage it when it reaches the rear where turbulence is most likely to form. A correctly designed spoiler will counteract the lifting forces that most cars experience when speeds get high, and it will enhance rear grip by keeping a vehicle's rear end planted firmly against the road - without causing excess drag.

While aerodynamics do not play as huge a role at U.S.-legal speeds, they can make the difference between life and death on racetracks or high-speed German autobahns. In fact, the absence of a spoiler or the presence of one with a faulty design can actually cause a car to lift off the road surface when velocities reach extra-legal road speeds. All control is lost at that point, and a vehicle can end up sailing off in an untold direction - with disastrous results. So one important question to ask is which type of spoiler is right for you and your driving style.

Don't Let A Spoiler Spoil Performance
Universal-Fitting AMI Adjustable Lighted Rear Spoiler
The universal-fitting AMI Adjustable Lighted Rear Spoiler features 4" adjustable risers and is designed to light up in different colors with a remote key fob.

If spoilers are not properly designed, they can actually cause drag that slows down the car or makes it unstable. A good spoiler is shaped and angled to create a controlled air vortex behind you as you go. Managing how the air leaves the surface of the vehicle minimizes drag and increases stability.

Mounting an adjustable spoiler such as the RKSport Fiberglass Adjustable Touring Rear Wing Spoiler and the AMI Adjustable Lined Style G-Wing Lighted Rear Spoiler allows you to test the angle at successively higher speeds to determine what the optimal wing setting is. Since the majority of spoilers are fixed and non-adjustable, we offer those that are vehicle-specific and tested by the product manufacturers to provide optimum results on your make and model.

Kammback Car
A proper spoiler works as a smaller, refined version of the "kammback" vehicle shape, which is abruptly cut off at the rear with a sharp vertical drop. This drop shape actually reduces drag and provides better stability than sloping, tapered rear ends do.

Yet for many of us, we care less about high-speed stability, and are more interested in the sporty look that we get, even at a standstill. We caution if you do buy a larger, universal-fitting spoiler purely for looks, it's essential to pay close attention how it may change the behavior of your car before reaching higher speeds.

A proper spoiler works as a smaller, refined version of the "kammback" vehicle shape, which is abruptly cut off at the rear with a sharp vertical drop. This drop shape actually reduces drag and provides better stability than sloping, tapered rear ends do. This is the case because one large, controlled vortex behind a vehicle creates less drag than a number of small turbulent vortexes that occur when layered airstreams from the vehicle join the surrounding air.

Spoilers Don't Have To Be Big To Be Effective
Lip Spoiler

Spoilers don't have to be large, high-mounted wings to create a desirable effect. A perfect example of this is Ford's 1960s LeMans-winning GT40 racecar. When first tested on the Mulsanne track straightaway, driver Ken Miles discovered the GT40 suffered from "tail wagging" at higher speeds in spite of extensive wind tunnel testing and engineering development. Because a wagging tail can prove lethal at 200 mph, project manager Carroll Shelby ordered the master tinsmith of the team to add an aluminum spoiler to the rear of the trunk. Several inches of aluminum was shaped into a spoiler, riveted to the rear of the car, and the problem was solved.

Ford 1966 GT40 Racecar Equipped With Small Lip Spoiler
Ford's 1966 GT40 LeMans-winning racecar proved unstable at high track speeds until a small, rear lip spoiler was riveted to the trunk.
Plymouth 1970 Road Runner Superbird Edition Equipped With Large Rear Wing
Plymouth's 1970 Road Runner "Superbird" edition was sold in showrooms with racetrack-spec body parts to give it an advantage when qualifying for production-class track competition. While the large rear wing is distinctive and has inspired countless spoiler designs since, it was actually created this way as a compromise so the trunk lid could open freely.
JKS Custom Rear Spoiler
If you like larger, trunk-mounted wing spoilers, check out the JKS Custom Rear Spoiler shown here from our custom style spoilers section.

Many spoiler designs are inspired by the large, high wing featured on the classic 1970 Plymouth Road Runner "Superbird" edition sold in showrooms with racetrack-spec body parts to give it an advantage when qualifying for production-class track competition. While the large rear wing is distinctive and has inspired countless spoiler designs since, it's not really practical. The real reason for the wing's immense height was because of difficulties finding good mounting points for the spoiler - a fact that wasn't much publicized at the time. Engineers found if the wing was mounted directly on the trunk lid, it would bang into the roof before the trunk could be opened very far. The solution to that problem was to affix it to rear quarter panels. But because trunk lids needed to actually open on production versions, the wing needed to be pretty high up to ensure proper clearance. For those who prefer the style of higher rear spoilers as well as custom, non-OEM designs, you'll find a lot to enjoy in our Custom Style Spoilers section.

Dawn Custom Style Flush Mount Rear Spoiler
The Dawn Custom Style Flush Mount Rear Spoiler, one of many stylish offerings found in our custom style spoilers section.
VIS Racing Custom Style Rear Spoiler
The VIS Racing Custom Style Rear Spoiler, one of many stylish offerings found in our custom style spoilers section.
What Looks Fast Sometimes Is Not

There's nothing wrong with high pods and big wings - if they're done right. They can completely change a vehicle visually, making a clear statement that an owner appreciates speed. But as we mentioned earlier, the wing must be properly angled to create the optimum amount of downforce that keeps tires planted firmly against the ground without causing extra drag that acts like an air brake.

High-Speed Vehicle Liftoff
High-speed vehicle liftoff due to improperly set aerodynamics is more common than you think, on all types of tracks.

Aerodynamics truly is a field where the devil lurks in the details. One well-respected German auto manufacturer discovered this fact after it was too late. After their design department vetoed engineers' demand for a full body kit package with spoiler on a new performance model, a number of fatal accidents resulted on German autobahns because of deadly lift created by the original body shape. After finally accepting what Carroll Shelby and Dan Miles realized decades earlier, a discreet 2" high spoiler was added.

Roof Spoilers
3D Carbon Rear Roofline Spoiler
Roof spoilers are most effective on SUVs, wagons, and hatchbacks. Shown here is the 3D Carbon Rear Roofline Spoiler, one of many products you'll find in our roof spoilers section.

Roof spoilers (also known as "window spoilers") are most effective on hatchbacks, station wagons, and sport utilities where the rear of the vehicle drops off sharply and there's no other trunk edge to speak of. In such cases, these roof spoilers effectively create the extra down force needed to enhance stability. However, they can also be useful on notchbacks that are equipped with larger wings on their trunk edge, because more airflow is redirected over the wing surface. On notchback vehicles without large trunk wings, they generate turbulence where there should be smooth airflow over the rear glass area. This creates a low-pressure pocket that only serves to increase drag - making them more for show than go.

Street Scene Rear Window Spoiler
The Street Scene Rear Window Spoiler, one of many roof spoilers you'll find in our Roof Spoilers section. Unless you plan to equip your notchback vehicle with a large rear trunk wing, these are more for show than go.
Remin Factory Style Roof Spoiler
The Remin Factory Style Roof Spoiler, one of many products you'll find in our Roof Spoilers section.
Lip Spoilers
Dawn Factory Style Flush Mount Rear Spoiler
The Dawn Factory Style Flush Mount Rear Spoiler, one of many products you'll find in our Lip Spoilers section.

For most practical purposes on the street, a properly designed lip spoiler is all you need to optimize aerodynamics for stability and performance. Don't be dissuaded by their more discreet looks, because they do add a performance touch to the design without being ostentatious. It's important to remember spoilers that look fastest and most aerodynamic often are not, and real car people know a discreet-looking spoiler can deliver results just as effectively as one that shouts loudly.

D2S Factory Style Lip Spoiler
The D2S Factory Style Lip Spoiler, one of many products you'll find in our Lip Spoilers section.
D2S Porsche 911 Factory Style Rear Spoiler
Whether your factory original spoiler is mild or wild, we've got quality OEM-style replacement spoilers in our Factory Style Spoilers section. Shown here is the D2S Porsche 911 Factory Style Rear Spoiler.
Pickup Truck Spoilers
We also offer a variety of Pickup Truck Spoilers that range from discreet to radical. We even have the Anzo LED Tailgate Spoiler with a built-in light strip that illuminates when brakes are applied.

Browsing through what's available in any of the sections referenced on our website, you'll notice each spoiler product features one main lead picture. These lead pictures are not fully indicative of all the variations you'll find from that manufacturer, because designs and materials offered vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a product with a lead picture showing a raised trunk wing may also be available in an OEM-style look that matches the original spoiler fitted to your vehicle. In the Product Options drop down box, you'll see all the choices available to you after entering your vehicle's year, make, and model.

We're confident you're going to like the different styles of spoilers we offer on our website. For that reason, we recommend you click on all the highlighted hyperlinks in this article, which will take you directly to the specific sections or products referenced. We say this because you may find the first thing that catches your eye may not end up being your favorite. You may also find multiple products that complement each other, and be the better for it. Whether you want a rear spoiler for show or for go, our wide variety of styles means that you will find the one that bests suits your desires.


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