Mean Green Machines has taught us a few things about what makes a
vehicle more efficient than another, and aerodynamics is always near
the top of the list. Now aerodynamics will never make up for an engine
that is a vastly inefficient design, but gaining a few miles per gallon
here and there may not be out of the question in some scenarios,
provided of course that you also follow the basic guidelines to better fuel economy.
When we are talking about improving your aerodynamics, you may be doing so at the risk of taking away some of the current looks
from your vehicle. So we are saying that your gas bills will certainly
be a mite “cooler”, your engine may also run a little “cooler”, but in
the looks department... well, we'll let you decide for yourself.
- Lowering the ground clearance on your car- According to
Mercedes engineers, a ground clearance of approximately 2.7 inches is
ideal to reduce up to 3 percent off your current drag. Not a huge
difference, but this one does actually improve the “cool” factor for
most cars. Also, if you have a series of plastic covers underneath your
car, it is to your advantage to leave those in place. This means that
if you ever drive over a curb and knock one off, it will be to the
advantage of your gas mileage to go back and pick it up. These can
greatly reduce drag underneath a vehicle. There are a lot of things
under there for wind to knock around on and a smooth pan evens out flow
- Rear wheel well side skirts- Just as on the Honda Insight,
covering your rear wheels has the advantage of helping the air move
around the vehicle smoothly without getting caught up inside the wheel
wells. There are also ground effect kits (fairings) available that will
help transition the air around these coverings more effectively.
Unfortunately these have not really caught on, so most people design
their own using sheet metal or equivalent materials. This is not always
a pretty addition to your vehicle, but it is quite functional.
- Toss that antenna- Large antennas create drag and wind noise
on many vehicles. With the popularity of the MP3 player, many people
don't listen to the radio anyway, so ditching that aluminum stick in
favor of slightly better aerodynamics is all in your favor and comes at
absolutely zero cost.
- Those oversize rear spoilers have got to go- Yes, those ever
popular “Need for Speed” style spoilers can actually hinder your
performance, even though they are intended to make your ride look more
performance oriented. Some vehicle manufacturers do have spoilers that
are actually functional, helping to improve airflow over top a rounded
trunk, such as the old OEM electric spoiler on the New Beetle (1.8 turbo)... these can stay! But those double and even triple deck wings... No!
As a whole aerodynamics is just a very small part of improved
efficiency and aerodynamics, but every small portion that you
contribute towards a whole can certainly add up over the course of time
and create quite the ultimate efficient machine. Just look
at what this fellow was able to accomplish with a little ingenuity,
time, and patience. Yeah, we told you it wasn't always going to look