- Posted by Sanderson Lincoln
- On September 20, 2016
It’s probably no secret that the reason why cars have changed shape and size so drastically in the last few decades was to improve their gas mileage. But how much does a vehicle’s aerodynamics really affect a car?
What Impacts Your Car’s Aerodynamics?
The degree to which aerodynamic drag can impact your fuel mileage may surprise you. Below are a few factors that can affect your vehicle’s aerodynamics.
- Front surface area. Car manufacturers went away from boxier designs because the more surface area in the front, the more drag a vehicle has. Smooth, sloped lines, on the other hand, reduce drag.
- Undercarriage. A rougher undercarriage has more pockets to catch air as you drive down the road, increasing drag as well as lift. More shielding underneath a car serves to create a flatter undercarriage, minimizing drag and lift.
- Rear spoiler or lateral edge on trunk. A lateral edge on a trunk, or a well-designed rear spoiler, increases the downforce on the car, counteracting any lift from air passing underneath.
- Vortex generator. Have you noticed some newer cars that have a row of little shark fin-like protrusions along the top of the rear window? This feature, modeled after airplane wings, is designed to reduce drag and work together with the rear spoiler to increase downforce.
- Smooth roof. Roof racks and cargo boxes (even the aerodynamic ones) increase drag by creating more frontal surface area.
- Speed. The faster you go; the more drag is inflicted on your car. For instance, at 70 mph, your car encounters four times the drag than at 35 mph.
How to Use Aerodynamics to Increase Your Gas Mileage
Knowing how drag can affect your gas mileage, there are steps you can take to make aerodynamics work for you. Here are a few ways to maximize your fuel efficiency.
Look for a car with an aerodynamic design. When shopping for a car, look for one with a body style that will reduce drag as much as possible: ideally, a smooth, sloped front end, flat undercarriage and a rear spoiler or lateral edge on the trunk.
Don’t speed. Sticking to speed limit will save you money, not only on fewer speeding tickets, but also with greater fuel efficiency.
Roll your windows up. Yes, air conditioning takes a little out of your fuel economy, but not as much as driving around with your windows down! Roll them up to improve your aerodynamics, and turn on that AC.
Remove roof racks and cargo boxes when you’re not using them. If you need them, you probably won’t mind the hit that your fuel economy will take. But when you’re not using them, take them down. Why suffer the reduced fuel efficiency for no reason?
As gasoline becomes more expensive, reducing drag has become more important. For the maximum fuel economy, check out the aerodynamics of our new Lincoln models, available at Sanderson Lincoln.