What is Air Dam and Front Splitter?

The concept of Aerodynamics in cars is very intriguing. Every single curve can dictate the performance, efficiency and so on and so forth. The air flow management is critical and takes years of practice to master.

Let me show some very basic aerodynamic components of a race car.

All sorted for you! Mercedes-Benz

The parts are as follows:

  1. Front Splitter
  2. Air Dam
  3. Dive plates (Front Downforce and Air boundary layer on the sides of the car)
  4. Front hood air exit path
  5. Side Air Intake (Could cool the radiator and power unit in mid-engine cars, or to assist with the airflow behind the car)
  6. Front fender Air outlet (For relieving excess pressure caused due to tire rotation)
  7. Rear Wing (Down Force)
  8. Side Sills

However, here I am going to tell you guys the difference between the Front Splitter and the Air Dam.

That is just plain stunning! Automobil-mag

The splitter is a long plate kept in front of the car. It is a flat plate protruding from underneath the bumper. The splitter is also designed to divide the incoming fresh charge in such a way that they pass over the car and create higher pressure on the top. This generates downforce which can assist cornering.

Front splitter
A front splitter! Formula1-Dictionary

The Air dam is present at the very front of the car. It acts as an air intake. It also prevents excess air from entering underneath the car. This causes a pressure increase under the car. Hence due to the differential pressure between the upper and the lower sides, the car can lift, and the effects can be detrimental. It can divert the air to cool the brakes, the engine or the radiator. The path can be designed to take the air wherever it is needed the most.

Working of a front splitter. Formula1-Dictionary

Okay, Govind. So what is the damn difference?

So, the Air dam is designed for one more reason too. As the air reaches the front, it creates a stagnation point. This results in higher pressure. The flow behind the radiator has low pressure. This pressure difference assists in the air to flow right through the body, reducing drag.

The difference!

So, there you go. The next post in a week, on the rear end analysis of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer. If this article got you interested in the aerodynamics of the car, then I recommend you try out the following book –

Race Car Aerodynamics by Joseph Katz


It will help you understand how different front splitters and air dams are designed and their purposes. You can also learn a lot more about every aspect of the body design is crucial to a car’s performance.

Do check out The Car Factor for more such articles and their Facebook page as well.



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