Cars are complex machines; aftermarket upgrades complicates things even further.
Currently, there are 1 billion cars on earth, allowing for a booming industry of companies that produce aftermarket upgrades to compete in this ever-growing sector. Aftermarket upgrades help enthusiasts make their cars stand out from the rest, a desire rooted within human nature itself. Over the years, this world has evolved drastically and part names have become a little convoluted. In this article, we would like to focus specifically on the various terminology of automotive aerodynamics and how enthusiasts, along with the aftermarket world have really embraced these types of modifications.
Automotive aerodynamics is the study of the aerodynamics of road cars. The main goals of aerodynamics are reducing drag and wind noise, minimizing noise emission, and preventing undesired lift forces and other causes of aerodynamic instability at high speeds. An aerodynamic automobile will integrate the wheel arcs and lights into the overall shape to reduce drag.
To better illustrate the various components, we have provided these two interactive images below. Highlight the aftermarket upgrade to see a small description and a list of terms found in the marketplace.
Starting from the front of the vehicle, we have the front bumper
, or sometimes called a front fascia. The word fascias refers to two areas, the vehicle’s dashboard assembly or as a general term used to describe grille, headlamps, and other details that make up the entire front bumper assembly.
serve to protect the car’s engine and radiator. The principal function of the grille is to channel cool air to the car’s engine components. There are plenty of varieties of aftermarket upgrades for the grilles, which adds nice subtleties to the car's aesthetics.
A front lip
was designed to control air flow, on vehicles capable of extreme speeds. Usually integrated as part of the front lip, splitters
act to specifically increases the amount of down force at the front of the car. The larger the area of the splitter, the more down force is generated. A car splitter acts like a wedge that forces the high pressure air upwards where it erects up around the bumper and rises up and over the car. Front lips and splitters are probably one of the most common aesthetic upgrades that enthusiasts start off with.
are small triangular wings attached to the bumper of a car for the purposes of fine tuning the aerodynamic characteristics of the car. The canard redirects the oncoming air's momentum upwards, which causes a downward force. These aftermarket upgrades are typically utilized by enthusiasts who are looking to complete the aerodynamic package and not everyone is a fan of the style.
is the part of a car that surrounds the wheel well. The primary function of a fender is to prevent dirt and debris from being flung into the air by the tire as well as protect the tire from the outside elements. As aftermarket upgrades, fenders are not very common, and those who opt for this upgrade are generally pretty hardcore enthusiasts with great visions for aggressive wide body kits that really stand out from everyone else.
reduce high pressure build up around the side of the car and prevents that pressure from going under the car. The clout of the side skirts depends on how close it is to the ground. The edge should be close to the ground, since the effectiveness decreases as the gap increases. Side skirt help reduce drag and save fuel. These panels are sited on the sides of the vehicle between the front and rear wheel openings, underneath the doors. An often ignored aftermarket upgrade, the side skirts really do make an aesthetic difference when completing the whole look.
of a vehicle is the main storage component of the car. It usually stationed in the back, but on select vehicles it can be found on the front. Vehicles without trunks, usually include a hatch instead. A hatchback is car body type with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Trunk lids are a common aftermarket upgrade and are often found in carbon fiber flavor.
is an aerodynamic device whose function is to prevent unfavorable air movement across the body of a moving vehicle. The term has been adopted, over the years, to describe wings or trunk spoilers to be more specific (spoilers sited in the front of the vehicle are called air dams). Spoilers and wings are closely related. However, the wing is specifically intended to generate down force as air passes around it. This is another beginner-level aftermarket upgrade, as they are cost-effective and add a nice little cosmetic flare.
are located at the bottom of the rear bumper, and serve to augment the car’s aerodynamic properties, by providing a space for the under body airflow to decelerate and expand. It accelerates the flow in front of it, which generates down force. Just like front lips and splitters, enthusiasts often opt to upgrade the diffuser as well.
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