Spoilers are widely popular among tuning enthusiasts for being a simple and affordable way to improve your car’s appearance. However, do you know what precautions you must have to properly install them?
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Can You Add a Spoiler to any Car?
Yes, you can. A spoiler is essentially a separate component that you attach to the car’s body and the industry has designed versions for several purposes. Nowadays, there are front, side, and rear spoilers for all body styles, so it is possible, indeed, to add at least one spoiler to any car.
Also read: Wing vs. Spoiler: What’s the Difference?
What Does a Spoiler Do?
In short, a spoiler is designed to be a physical extension of the car’s body and works as an air deflector, that is, it directly affects how air flows over the body when the car is moving.
The automotive parts commonly named “spoilers” are physically attached to the car body and are designed to be an extension of its shape. For example, a rear spoiler for a hatchback is placed on the rearmost part of its roof and is designed to look like a short extension of the roof placed over the rear windshield. In a sedan, a rear spoiler looks like an extension of the trunk’s upper surface.
Spoilers are designed to optimize the mass of air that flows over it. Front spoilers, for example, may deflect air towards the wheels in order to cool the brakes. Side spoilers essentially reduce the disruptions caused by the empty region between the car’s floor and the ground. And rear spoilers aim at minimizing the turbulence caused basically by the air flow reaching the end of the roof.
It is important that the spoiler’s design forms a seamless transition from the body’s nearby surface, so the airflow can move smoothly from one part to the adjacent. Poorly designed spoilers have such significant shape gaps to create turbulence in the region of that transition. That might even make the car’s body less aerodynamic, which is the exact opposite of the intended effect.
To What Body Types Does the Spoiler Fit?
Nowadays, there are spoilers for all body types. The automotive industry has developed many parts which fall into the definition of a spoiler, so it is easy to find at least one spoiler which can be fitted into any car model or body type.
Front spoilers are usually designed for the lower portion of the front fascia. They aim at reducing the turbulence in the gap between the floor and the ground and some, especially those of sports cars, also redirect part of the airflow towards the wheels in order to cool their brake systems. It is possible to find front spoilers for almost all cars because front fascias are visually similar.
Side spoilers are very similar to one another because there is little freedom to design them; the biggest variable to consider is how tall they should be to cover that same gap. On the other hand, since they have essentially the same length as the car’s wheelbase, the industry essentially needs to develop a specific set of side spoilers for each car model.
Rear spoilers are divided into two types. The lower ones are essentially the same as the front ones, with appropriately different shapes. The upper ones may be attached on top of the trunk lid (that is the case of sedans and coupés) or on top of the rear windshield (hatchbacks and SUVs for example). It is possible to add spoilers to pickup trucks as well, but they are the least common type.
Also read: Are Sedans Dying? Will They Die Completely?
Is it Legal to Add a Spoiler to Your Car?
Legality always depends on the region where you live, but it is not common to get in trouble for having installed a spoiler on your car. The most common types of spoilers are designed under the guidelines, so they do not alter the car’s nature to an extent that could cause a legal problem.
Having said that, it is easy to conclude that any spoiler with excessive dimensions is likely to require some type of clearance to become legal. A simple example of that is the front spoiler: if it protrudes too much towards ahead of the car, it may be dangerous for pedestrians, even in urban driving. That is a typical situation in which adding a spoiler to your car may cause you a legal problem.
A good rule of thumb in this topic is to seek professional help both to buy and to install spoilers on your car. Specialized staff will certainly be able to help you regarding which spoilers can be installed on your specific car model without the need for further actions to be street-legal.
How Much Does a Spoiler Cost?
The spoiler alone usually costs between $50 and $150, whereas labor might add between $75 to $150. As you can imagine, both figures depend on many variables: the spoiler’s price depends on the year, make, model, and type (front, side, etc.) and the labor’s price depends on the shop you ask.
Those are the common prices for “replacement spoilers”, that is, spare parts for car models which have spoilers originally designed by their makers. If your car has never had a stock spoiler, or you are looking for a custom one, it would be the case of hiring professional support to develop a project from scratch, which would certainly have different costs.
Can You Put a Spoiler by Yourself?
In short, you can, but you should not. Most spoilers have plug & play operation, but the problem is installing them with the necessary precision. That is why it is preferable to hire professional help for that task.
Spoilers are designed to be extensions of the car’s body, as it was previously mentioned, so their installation must contribute to that. If a spoiler is installed with a gap between the body and itself, or directly attached but simply misaligned with it, the surface would be extended with a disruption. That would be enough to create turbulence of the airflow throughout the body.
I know you would do your absolute best to minimize those imperfections, of course. The problem is that even the smallest one would create some level of turbulence, and the most significant result of that would be a disruption of the airflow. In other words, not only would the spoiler not improve the car’s aerodynamics, but also it would actually make it slightly worse.
What Tools Do You Need to Add a Spoiler?
Nowadays, several spoilers are designed to be attached with adhesives. You can buy the whole kit from the manufacturer, which includes the spoiler itself and adhesive bands with which it will be installed on the correspondent region of the car’s body.
That method is perfectly safe considering that industrial adhesives have greatly improved over the past few years and the fact that spoilers are not subjected to intense mechanical stress: they do not support weight and the most intense interaction they have is the passage of air, which will never happen directly towards them.
Some parts may require drilling the body to install them, but this is not recommendable. Cutting the sheet metal in any way means leaving a portion of unpainted steel directly exposed to the environment. That is an effective way to create a point of rust that will be difficult to eliminate.
Is Putting a Spoiler Hard?
Yes, it surely is. According to the previous topics, the correct installation of a spoiler consists of performing the appropriate actions with maximum precision in order to make a seamless transition from the body’s geometry to the spoiler’s. The latter is what makes the task difficult.
Specialized shops use frames of all types for that. Nothing can ensure a perfect assembly, of course, but professional instruments like those are designed to keep those gaps to a minimum where those negative effects will not be significant. Unfortunately, manual installation cannot replicate that level of precision.
Regardless of how you install the spoiler, it is necessary to be attentive after it is done. Industrial adhesives only reach their peak strength after some hours so, in this meantime, you will have to protect the region from direct impacts such as snow, hail, or even rain.
What are the Pros and Cons of Spoiler?
The main points of both kinds are briefly listed below:
- Affordable and easy to find for almost all car models.
- Simple way to improve the car’s aerodynamics to a small extent.
- Possibility to change the appearance without incurring in legal issues.
- Aerodynamic gains are only noticeable when driving at high speeds.
- The necessity of professional installation drives up the overall cost.
- Imprecise installation may cause the opposite of the intended effect.