What's The Difference Between a Spoiler and a Front Lip Splitter?
The difference between a splitter and a spoiler is simple: A splitter acts like a wing on the front of a race car, creating downforce. A spoiler is designed to alter the way air flows over part of a car, usually the rear. Both parts have specific aerodynamic purposes. Let’s explore each one.
The Aerodynamic Purpose of a Spoiler
A spoiler is designed to 'spoil' the air flowing over it. So, for example, a race car will often have a front air dam that acts as a spoiler, meaning that it stops or slows the air immediately in front of it. Spoilers are often used on the rear of a vehicle as well. Typically, a spoiler on the rear of a street vehicle is designed to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. On a race car, a spoiler is usually designed to create downforce.
The Aerodynamic Purpose of a Front Lip Splitter
A splitter creates a boundary between the air moving at two different speeds. Air moving under a car can flow much faster if there's a large splitter on the front because the splitter essentially "carves" the air and pushes a small amount of it under the car. The rest of the air has to go over or around, creating downforce. Race cars often have big splitters because a larger size creates more downforce.
A lot of street car owners add splitters to their vehicle to get the same look and benefits of a splitter on a race car. However, there's almost no point in having a splitter if you don't also have a rear diffuser. A diffuser helps direct the air under the back of the car. You won't see most of the benefits of having the big aggressive splitter unless there's also a diffuser to help guide the airflow under the car.
Also, race-style splitters cause a lot of problems on street cars. They can shatter, bend, or crack the first time they bang into a curb or speed bump. That’s why many car owners opt to invest in a rubber lip like the All-Fit lip kit if they’re looking to add an aggressive lowered look to their car.
Both Terms Can be Interchangeable
The terms spoiler and splitter have different aerodynamic meanings. But, they're often used interchangeably by enthusiasts. That means if someone adds an All-Fit lip to their bumper, for example, they might call it a spoiler, an air dam, a splitter, or even a lip. As long as we aren't talking about a race car, it's OK to use these terms interchangeably.