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What are Car Spoilers?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

A spoiler is an aerodynamic accessory designed to improve the airflow over a vehicle for better traction and faster speed. A car spoiler is affixed to and sits flush with the trunk’s rear edge and resembles a wedge with a slightly lifted lip. A similar feature, called a "wing," looks similar to a spoiler but is raised on a pedestal to stand higher off the trunk. Wings come designed in many different shapes and are often metallic or black, while car spoilers are painted to match the vehicle.

Racecars and highly customized rides incorporate car spoilers to reduce drag and improve handling at high speeds. A good spoiler or wing with a well adjusted deck can make the difference between losing a race or winning it, all else being equal.

Spoilers improve aerodynamics on race cars.
Spoilers improve aerodynamics on race cars.

Even the cosmetic spoilers found on commercial cars modify airflow and could potentially affect traction. Experts point out that drivers who obey traffic laws won’t be going fast enough to notice a difference, however. Factory, or aftermarket, car spoilers still have great appeal because they make any car look like a high-performance car, regardless of what’s under the hood.

Many sport cars come with spoilers already installed. Even sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have them, attached above the rear window at the top of the rear door. Aftermarket car spoilers are also available for trucks, attached to the back of the cab.

Car spoilers are positioned toward the rear of a car, usually above its trunk.
Car spoilers are positioned toward the rear of a car, usually above its trunk.

Spoilers are commonly made of molded ABS plastic, molded fiberglass or resins. Some wings are made from aluminum. Aftermarket car spoilers can be purchased for a particular make and model, then painted to match the vehicle, while others come pre-painted to match factory colors.

There are a wide variety of styles of car spoilers to choose from. If a car owner swaps out a factory spoiler for a custom one, the original screw holes will probably have to be patched, as the spoilers will likely have different pedestal footprints. Universal ones are designed to fit a variety of models but will need to be painted. Most spoilers are easy to install and come with instructions, but an owner should hold the spoiler in place to make sure it fits the body properly and looks good before installing it.

Car spoilers are available wherever custom auto accessories are sold. Some online dealers feature pictures of available spoilers mounted on various cars.

Discussion Comments


This article may have been up a while, but there is a big difference between a spoiler and and wing, which you have not covered.

A spoiler is an aerodynamic aid but it has a totally different function than a wing. A spoiler does as its name states, and spoils the air flow over a vehicle of certain shapes and prevents the whole car from turning into a wing due to its shape. Spoilers do generate some downforce, but not much.

A wing, on the other hand, is what is found on high performance cars and generates much more downforce than a spoiler.

An example of the airflow between both can be found on Google images by typing spoiler vs wing and viewing the third image.

The top image is a spoiler the bottom a wing and you can see the difference between the air flows by the blue lines behind the cars.

BEng Motorsport Engineering student.


@concordski - Actually, while there have not really been any exhaustive studies of this, many experts believe that spoilers might actually *increase* fuel efficiency in certain situations. Of course, there are other experts that think the opposite.

Either way, it doesn’t seem like it would have a very significant effect. For those who like the looks of a big and ostentatious spoiler, don’t let the possibility of a lower gas mileage stop you. Although, I would also advise those people to reevaluate their tastes; those huge spoilers just look silly!


Although car spoilers can make a car look more sporty, the really big ones are likely to increase air drag and decrease mileage. On the other hand, smaller, more subdued spoilers are unlikely to have any impact on miles-per-gallon.

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    • Spoilers improve aerodynamics on race cars.
      By: Vladimir Volkov
      Spoilers improve aerodynamics on race cars.
    • Car spoilers are positioned toward the rear of a car, usually above its trunk.
      By: Michael Shake
      Car spoilers are positioned toward the rear of a car, usually above its trunk.
    • Spoilers give cars better traction and faster speed.
      By: Marc Xavier
      Spoilers give cars better traction and faster speed.