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What is a Car Spoiler?

By Jenelle Sprague
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A car spoiler is a stylish automobile accessory that can be mounted on the rear of most cars and trucks. There are many different styles of spoilers; the general shape consists of a slender slightly downward angled metal piece that is usually the width of the vehicle. Some seem to appear to mold into the vehicle and others stick out, standing out on a vehicle with two small metal ledges on both sides.

Although there are many different styles of car spoilers for vehicles, they all have similar characteristics because they have a purpose other that making the vehicle look more stylish. The shape of a spoiler is uniform because it is built to apply down force on the vehicle, making the vehicle grip the road more efficiently. This is the reason why spoilers often appear on professional racing cars and trucks to allow them to maintain traction on the road.

How a car spoiler works is simple: a spoiler is similar to an airplane wing, except where an airplane is using upward force, the spoiler uses downward force. By creating this force, the vehicle it is attached to is more capable of making sharp turns and maintaining traction on the road at low and high speeds. A spoiler allows vehicles that are light to have the same advantages as a heaver vehicle when it comes to traction and control on the road's surface.

It is possible mount a car spoiler on almost any vehicle due since they come in different styles. There is a down side to the force that a spoiler puts on a vehicle, however: the downward force that is created by the spoiler also creates a drag on the vehicle, which makes engine work harder. As a result, the vehicle uses slightly more fuel.

Car spoilers are everywhere, used by professional and everyday drivers to make their vehicles look good and to ensure they keep their tires firmly on the pavement. The invention has allowed light vehicles to have better traction on the road and has made a lasting impression on the auto industry.

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Discussion Comments

By strawCake — On Sep 04, 2012

@Monika - I don't think everyone gets a spoiler put on their car for speed. I think some people just like the way it looks. And as another commenter said, a lot of cars come with a universal car spoiler already attached to the car. Most people aren't going to bother getting that removed.

I think a small spoiler looks fine, but I think the really big ones look ridiculous. They're just too attention grabbing, whereas the smaller ones look a little more "normal."

By Monika — On Sep 03, 2012

I think it's funny when people get a custom car spoiler for speed on a car that isn't that fast. I mean, yes, a spoiler will help some. But if you're driving around a ten year old car that was never very fast to begin with, a spoiler isn't going to make much of a difference!

By JessicaLynn — On Sep 02, 2012

@indemnifyme - Unfortunately, a lot of cars come with spoilers already on the back! My car did. If I had known that it might reduce my fuel economy, I probably would have gone for a car without the spoiler.

However, since I already have the spoiler, I'm just going to focus on the fact that it helps my car have better traction on the road. My car is fairly light, so I bet my spoiler is pretty helpful when it's raining. I don't notice my car sliding on the road very often.

By indemnifyme — On Sep 01, 2012

@browncoat - Actually, it seems like a car spoiler wing increases your fuel consumption, because it makes the engine work harder due to the extra downward force it creates. I personally care way more about fuel efficiency than I do about speed, so I don't see myself getting a spoiler anytime soon.

By browncoat — On Aug 29, 2012

@anon129423 - It's true that the spoiler is to create ideal aerodynamic forces around the car, but I think these days people use the term spoiler to refer to wings and spoilers even if it's not technically correct. I've definitely heard that being done multiple times.

A spoiler is actually a pretty good thing to have even if you aren't a speedster as it can reduce your fuel consumption. You don't have to go nuts and get a huge car spoiler though, I think most cars have a factory option for a spoiler.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 28, 2012

Ironically, some of the people who use cheap car spoilers put them onto their cars with no idea how or why they are doing so, except to make their car look cool and they can end up making their car slower or more dangerous. Because, of course, if a spoiler is mounted the wrong way it can create drag by blocking airflow and even make the car less likely to grip onto the road, the opposite of the real intention of a spoiler.

I guess when you consider that most people wouldn't know that to look at the car anyway, it doesn't matter since the people who make this mistake only have the goal of looking "cool" rather than having a faster car.

By anon129423 — On Nov 23, 2010

The spoiler is not responsible for creating downforce. In instances where aerodynamics create downforce (or lift, which is really just the same) then it's a wing. Spoilers will adjust airflow to make it smoother or to make sure air moves into the right areas around a vehicle.

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