What Is Aerodynamic Drag? What To Consider When Buying Performance Parts

May 15, 2024 by
What Is Aerodynamic Drag? What To Consider When Buying Performance Parts
Eric Hazen

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly being pulled in the wrong direction? While we typically experience this in a figurative sense, your vehicle will actually encounter this force in a more literal manner. The culprit is aerodynamic drag, the bane of racers and anyone trying to lower track times. Learn more about this unwanted force and how the top aftermarket parts can mitigate it.

What To Know About Aerodynamic Drag And Performance Parts

Computational fluid dynamics software showing how air flows over a vehicle

Computational fluid dynamics software is valuable in understanding how drag impacts performance.

One of the primary challenges of automotive engineers and aftermarket parts designers is boosting downforce without introducing significant drag increases. The goal is to provide an efficient aerodynamic setup that minimizes drag and maximizes performance. 

But what exactly is aerodynamic drag? Simply put, it’s the force of resistance that applies to an object as it moves through a fluid. In this case, the object is your vehicle, and the fluid is air. You might encounter this air resistance force in a few different ways. 

Have you ever held your hand out the window and felt the wind pushing against it? That’s a form of aerodynamic drag. There’s also friction drag that occurs as air simply moves over a surface. But in the realm of performance aerodynamic parts, the primary type of drag you’re concerned about is pressure drag. 

How To Counteract Pressure Drag

Rear diffuser on a Subaru WRX

A rear diffuser like this one on a Subaru WRX can help reduce pressure drag by filling the wake region behind the car.

One of the most common aerodynamic issues with street cars is the low-pressure area that naturally occurs behind the vehicle. This pocket of low pressure, known as the wake region, literally wants to pull the car rearward. But how do you offset this? One of the best ways is through an expertly designed rear diffuser.

Your diffuser helps speed up the air under the car, which results in low pressure and increased downforce. But that’s not the only benefit. A properly designed diffuser also directs air into the wake region to raise the pressure and reduce drag. When done correctly, a diffuser’s design is matched perfectly to your car and will be informed by computational fluid dynamics. Finally, it’s tested on the track to ensure optimal performance.

Add Efficiency With A Front Splitter

Front splitters increase downforce on a Toyota GR

Want another way to improve performance without adding significant drag? Install a high-efficiency front splitter. The best splitters will generate massive downforce boosts with little to no drag increases. It’s the perfect complement to a diffuser and helps promote a balanced, well-handling ride at speed. Downforce is generated by air traveling quickly underneath the front lip. There’s little chance for drag other than the air flowing over the vehicle’s underbody. But that’s far outweighed by the high-velocity, low-pressure region established under the car.

Find Solutions To Aerodynamic Drag With Performance Parts From Verus Engineering

Boost downforce and avoid significant drag increases with performance parts from Verus Engineering. Our diffusers, splitters, rear wings, and other aerodynamic parts are expertly designed for efficient and balanced performance. We account for air resistance force by utilizing computational fluid dynamics and then validate our designs on the track. Shop our online store today to find the right parts for your vehicle. 

What Is Aerodynamic Drag? What To Consider When Buying Performance Parts
Eric Hazen May 15, 2024
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