Air Dams: Reducing Drag to Improve Your Vehicle's Performance
We all dream of driving down an open track to quench our need for speed. Nothing beats the rush you get from driving at top speed--zipping past the other cars to claim the checkered flag. The reality is, not all cars are created equal, and in an age where a gallon of beer is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline, you would think twice before stepping on the gas pedal. Suddenly, reality bites and your dreams of race-like speed are gone. So, you might be wondering: how can you achieve speed without breaking the bank?
Installing a front spoiler or air dam will not break the bank. In fact, it will increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency and reduce drag along your car or truck's body while in motion. With this guide, you'll know exactly what we mean--and you'll be able to set one up yourself too!Air Dams vs. Drag
An air dam is located beneath the bumper to decrease the amount of air-or drag-going underneath the vehicle. This increases the downforce that keeps the vehicle's nose steady and pointed at the ground when driving at high speeds. This gives the front tires a better grip. Air dams also help cool the engine and give your ride better stability.Commonly Used Materials
You may not realize it but materials play a huge role in picking an air dam that is right for you. Are you looking for something common or unique? To make it easier for you, we're listing them down right here to help you make a choice:
ABS Plastic -- Most car manufacturers cast ABS plastic with other mixtures to create spoilers or air dams for their vehicles. It's an inexpensive material, but it proves to be a bit more fragile. Plus, it ages more quickly compared to other materials.
Fiberglass -- This is a popular choice for casting air dams or spoilers due to the low cost of materials. Fiberglass is workable and more durable compared to ABS plastic. However, due to the huge amount of labor needed, it's not used for large scale production of car parts.
Silicon -- More aftermarket or auto accessory manufacturers are using silicon-organic polymers for their car products because of its amazing plasticity. Silicon has a longer product lifetime due to its high thermal characteristics.
Carbon Fiber -- This material is the most durable and light-weight among all these materials. However, carbon fiber is also the most expensive material, and a large labor force is needed to produce it. Due to its high cost, the production of carbon fiber car parts is limited to some vehicle manufacturers.Adding Style and Performance
When choosing an air dam for your vehicle, you also have to consider the overall look that you want to achieve. Upgrading your vehicle's look is as important as improving its performance. Make room for other modifications like body kits that will not only complete your vehicle's look, but it will also give you a more aerodynamic vehicle.
How to Install an Air Dam on Your Car
An air dam is designed to improve your car's aerodynamics at higher speeds. It reduces ground clearance to give you better handling. By installing an air dam, you can also improve your car's appearance and add a racecar-like look to it. We prepared the list of tools, procedures, and tips to help you replace your Mazda Miata's air dam.
Difficulty Level:ModerateTools that You'll Need:
Safety Tips and Reminders:
- Clean soft cloth
- Torque wrench set
- Phillips screwdriver
- Protective sheet
- Wheel chocks
- Electric drill (with a 10 mm drill bit)
- Hydraulic jack
- Jack stands
- New Air Dam
- Large office binder clips
- Check your replacement parts and make sure that they are compatible to your vehicle's make and model.
- Make sure that your work area is free from dust, oil, and dirt that may contaminate the front air dam's adhesive tape--these particles tend to reduce the tape's bond.
- Use a protective sheet to store parts from the front bumper and front air dam to avoid any missing parts.
- Park the vehicle on a level surface and set the parking brakes. Put wheel chocks at the vehicle's rear wheels.
- Use the hydraulic jack to lift your car off the ground, and place the jack stands at the vehicle's jacking points to ensure stability.
- Put the air dam under your car's front bumper to make sure it's flush and centered with the bumper. Place a pair of jacks stands underneath the air dam to help hold it into place.
- Use the large, office binder clips to secure the air dam to your car's front bumper.
- Look for the air dam's mounting holes and use the binder clips around these holes. Make sure that the air dam is secured to the front bumper.
- Locate the mounting surface, which is a lip that extends backward, and drill a couple of holes into the bottom of your car's bumper.
- Check if the holes are aligned with the air dam's mounting holes before you start drilling. Drill holes through the bumper's soft plastic to prepare it for installation. Use 10mm bolts and nuts to secure the air dam to your car's bumper.
- Use a screwdriver and the self-tapping screws to drive the air dam into the bumper's top left and right portions to finally secure it.
- Remove the binder clips and jack stands from underneath the air dam. Grasp the air dam and shake it a bit to check if it's secure.
- Place the hydraulic jack underneath your car and remove the jack stands. Lower your car onto the ground.
- Drive your car around to check if anything from your new air dam comes loose.
Installing a new air dam will take about 45 minutes for an expert DIYer and an hour for a beginner. Take your time and once you're done, your car will never look the same again. Have fun!