A stock photo of the rear wing used by a Lamborghini.

Want a wing? How about a spoiler? Alert, they’re different!

What’s the difference between a wing and a spoiler? 

Regardless of whether you’re behind the wheel of a 1,000-horsepower supercar or a 100-horsepower subcompact hatchback, a lot of work went into the study of how aerodynamics will affect that vehicle. More and more automakers are employing spoilers on their SUVs, coupes and sedans. Meanwhile, aggressive wings have adorned high-performance cars for a long time. Are these features the same? Is one better than the other? What’s the difference between a wing and a spoiler? These are all great questions and we’ll do our best to clear up any confusion without getting too terribly deep in the weeds. Let’s take a look at a few things you want to know.

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In the course of our research on the subject of finding the differences between a wing and a spoiler, it became very clear, very quickly why people use these terms interchangeably. A very generous definition of either component would include the idea that both are used to control or disrupt airflow. However, the stark truth is that the distinctions between a wing and a spoiler are important. 

What does a wing on a car do? 

When someone says, ‘That car has a wing on it,’ you should be picturing a high surface, like you’d see on the back of an IndyCar platform. The reason that wings are used on professional race cars and other high-performance vehicles is that they need the additional downforce. A rear wing will essentially catch the air coming off of the car and redirect it up so that the back of the car is pushed down. This is especially useful in a race where a driver will want to go as fast as possible around a turn. 

What does a spoiler do? 

Spoilers are becoming more popular on more vehicles. For the purposes of our discussion today, a spoiler is designed to actually spoil the airflow coming over the top of a vehicle. Like a wing, a spoiler redirects airflow up and away from the vehicle, but for a different reason. Where a high-performance car wants that downforce for better high-speed maneuverability, a spoiler redirects air away from the low-pressure pocket formed behind the vehicle. When the airflow from the top of the car interacts with the low-pressure pocket it creates turbulence. And, out of control turbulence hurts fuel economy. 

If you would like to see various kinds of wings and spoilers in action, make an appointment with a Prestige Imports product expert today to take something in our showroom for a test drive.