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Automotive Spoilers vs Wings

  1. Oct 23, 2016 #1
    What is the difference between an automotive spoiler and an automotive wing? Is there a difference?

    My understanding has always been that a wing is an airfoil, and is used to produce downforce, while a spoiler is is just a lip that is used to reduce drag by creating a pocket of stagnant air. This is what people on the car forums seem to think as well. Is there anyone with actual fluid mechanics experience that can give a more insightful perspective into this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2016 #2


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    A wing is a wing (an airfoil). Typical use is to create downforce.

    A spoiler is there to "spoil" any other flow. The use in airplanes is to "spoil" the lift of the wings, usually to allow a greater descent rate.
    On a car there are some obvious uses such as spoiling the underbody flow. One of the most famous applications is to spoil the up-force (lift) created by the common fastback tail
  4. Oct 23, 2016 #3
    Thanks for the response!

    Could you explain what you mean by "spoil?" I'm currently taking an entry-level fluid mechanics class; I'm not familiar with all the jargon yet.
  5. Oct 23, 2016 #4
    'Spoil' means making the airflow less effiicient for lift and induces drag as well.
    Air brakes basically, good for quick descent and landing but otherwise a waste of energy,
    Seems to be becoming quite normal for short flights lately.
    It may be more fuel efficient to stay at high altitude until descent path has been cleared by ATC?
  6. Oct 23, 2016 #5
    Is that just because it creates turbulence? Laminar flow is better for lift, right?
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