There are many things you can do to improve your vehicle’s racing performance, from getting the best bolt-on mods for horsepower to having proper suspension. Often underestimated is the advantage of altering how much downforce is produced by your vehicle. Downforce, being the opposite of lift, keeps the nose of your vehicle down and increases your vehicle’s tire’s grip to the driving surface. Because of this, enhancing your vehicle’s downforce can allow you to drive at higher speeds around twists and turns and reduces your chance of rolling. The following overviews some of the ways you can go about increasing your car’s downforce.
Have an Air Dam Installed
One of the first things you can do to increase your vehicle’s downforce is to have an air dam installed. Front air dams are essentially spoilers for the front of your vehicle installed under your front bumper and direct air to go around your vehicle instead of under it. This then increases downforce by reducing the air pressure beneath your vehicle. Not only do air dams increase downforce, but they can also improve engine cooling under some conditions. An air dam is only worthwhile if it is very low and close to the driving surface. This, of course, will make it more likely that rocks and pavement will come in contact with your vehicle, so it is advisable to install a SLiPLO Universal Bumper Scrape Guard DIY Kit to prevent scraping and paint damage.
Although a front splitter can be installed directly under your bumper, you can get the most downforce if you install a front splitter in combination with an air dam. The design of a front splitter creates a differential in air pressure between the upper side and underside of the splitter. In turn, this creates downforce. The size of a splitter correlates with the amount of downforce produced up until a point. Eventually, the distance the splitter is from the vehicle will lead to the splitter becoming counterproductive.
Consider Side Skirts
When you have an air dam and a splitter affixed to your vehicle, the pressure under your vehicle will be substantially reduced. Unfortunately, this means that the air pressure from the sides of your vehicle will try to slip down under the vehicle and reduce downforce because it will be the path of least resistance. The way around this problem is to get side skirts, which reduce the high-pressure areas on the sides of the vehicle and directs air around instead of under.
The closer you can get the side skirt to the ground, the better. In fact, 2 cm from the ground has been found to be the most effective. The amount of additional downforce achieved through side skirts drops sharply as the gap between the side skirt and the street increases.
Creative Ducting of Radiator Air
The use of creative ducting of radiator air can also be an option for some people. Specifically, the radiator air has to be ducted through the hood. This increases downforce because the airflow from your radiator reduces the efficiency of your air dam and splitter, so ducting the air away restores the function of these parts.
Another thing to consider is how air is getting to your radiator. If you seal the air intakes at the nose of your vehicle to the face of the radiator, you can effectively prevent air from leaking around it and improve the aerodynamics of your car.
Remove Any Outward Curvatures on the Hood
Being the opposite of lift, removing any outward curvatures on your vehicle’s hood can increase your downforce. If you want to take it a step further, in the deepest angle of the outward curvatures, install louvers that are specially made for racing. Unlike typical hood vents, racing louvers reduce front end lift. Additionally, in some instances having racing louvers installed will allow you to have smaller grill openings, further increasing downforce.
On top of racing louvers, it may also be advantageous for there to be side vents installed behind the front wheels. Doing so allows air to exit the wheel wells instead of being trapped which leads to turbulence. Both louvers and side vents behind a vehicle’s front wheels can improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics and downforce.
Lower the Vehicle
Similar to keeping your splitter and air dam as close to the ground as possible, when trying to get the most downforce, lowering your vehicle is one of the best things you can do. Although you will want to know the tips for driving a lowered car if you go with this option, the lower your vehicle is, the less air there is to lift your vehicle which means more downforce. Another advantage of your vehicle having a lower center of gravity is that it reduces pitch and roll risk.
Even better than simply lowering your vehicle is if you get more weight distributed towards the front by having the nose of your car lower than the rear. This forward weight placement helps your car keep traction while increasing downforce. The rake of a vehicle, or the height difference between the front and rear axle, plays a large role in making sure that the undercarriage does not create lift as air flows beneath it. The resulting increase in downforce from having the front of your vehicle lower than the rear does not cause any meaningful increase in drag, something you often have to worry about when taking steps to enhance downforce.
Recap: How Do You Increase a Vehicle’s Downforce?
There are many ways to increase a vehicle’s downforce depending on the vehicle you have and what lengths you are willing to go through to increase its downforce. Steps you could take include installing air dams, splitters, side skirts, side vents, and racing louvers. On the other hand, you may want to duct and seal your vehicle’s radiator airflow, remove outward curvatures to your hood, lower your vehicle, and increase its rake. Of course, with any option you choose, ensure that you are not increasing your vehicle’s drag to the point that it renders the modification useless.
After increasing downforce, it's time to protect your car. For information on the features, benefits, and pricing of skid plates, click here, alternatively, use our interactive map to find an authorized installer near you. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog.