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Old 07-07-2011, 08:13 PM   #1
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clarification about front splitters and air dam??

This is a noob question, but can someone clarify the difference between a front splitter and an air dam? I was searching some old threads regarding air dams because I'm trying to find some solutions to reduce my engine temp, and came across some threads regarding front splitters.

To my understanding, an air dam is the piece that is mounted behind the front bumper cover and secured onto the radiator support. It is intended to reduce the air that goes underneath the car and forces it upwards towards the radiator. Is this correct?

As for front bumper splitters, my understanding is that it is mounted onto the front bumper cover (like the Y2K Cobra R) and it is intended to smooth out the air flow going underneath the car. Is this correct?

Assuming my understanding on the two parts is correct, can they be used together or does having a splitter defeat the purpose of an air dam? If the splitter indeed defeates the purpose of the air dam, what is the best way to get the best cooling other than having a heat extracting hood? Would it be to box in your radiator?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydewaysix View Post
This is a noob question, but can someone clarify the difference between a front splitter and an air dam? I was searching some old threads regarding air dams because I'm trying to find some solutions to reduce my engine temp, and came across some threads regarding front splitters.

To my understanding, an air dam is the piece that is mounted behind the front bumper cover and secured onto the radiator support. It is intended to reduce the air that goes underneath the car and forces it upwards towards the radiator. Is this correct?

As for front bumper splitters, my understanding is that it is mounted onto the front bumper cover (like the Y2K Cobra R) and it is intended to smooth out the air flow going underneath the car. Is this correct?

Assuming my understanding on the two parts is correct, can they be used together or does having a splitter defeat the purpose of an air dam? If the splitter indeed defeates the purpose of the air dam, what is the best way to get the best cooling other than having a heat extracting hood? Would it be to box in your radiator?

Thanks in advance!
You are close, but not exactly on. The best way I can describe an air dam is that it is at the front of the car, and is a vertical surface. The small air dam on the stock mustang is used as you describe, which is to create a low pressure area behind the radiator, and cause the air to flow through the radiator for cooling. The stock piece is really just a cooling thing, and actually increases drag and lift at the front. This is not ideal, of course.

Boxing your radiator would allow you to eliminate the stock air dam, and you would get better cooling to boot.

If you look at a Nascar stock car circa 2005, they all utilize an air dam, which is a flat vertical piece at the bottom of the nose. The idea behind this air dam is that it gets very low to the ground, at which point air is forced above and around the vehicle, instead of going underneath the car. This increases pressure on the top of the car (I'm being simple here, but I'm not writing a dissertation on aerodynamic theory, so bear with me) which has the effect of reducing drag and increasing downforce. They are generally more worried about downforce than drag.

Incidentally, air dams are popular among the ecomodder crowd because they are trying to reduce aero drag. Despite the increase in frontal area, there is a total reduction of drag force, and a net gain in aero efficiency.

Some people on this site have added the Ranger airdam to their vehicles. This airdam is larger than stock, and more effective. It still performs the essential cooling job of the stock air dam, while also helping to reduce aero drag and lift.

A splitter is basically an addition to an air dam. While the air dam sits vertically at the front of the vehicle, the splitter is placed horizontally beneath the air dam. When the splitter is added, the air that is slowed down in front of the air dam creates a high pressure that is then applied as a downforce on the splitter. It is a device that is purely used to create more downforce on the nose of the vehicle.

I highly suggest doing a search at Corner-Carvers.com with regard to splitters, because there is a huge plethora of information available. It is a little techy, but very interesting for sure. Specifically, the discussions of splitter height and how far forward a splitter should extend would be helpful if you are doing any racing.

With regards to your Mustang, if you're goal is to create maximum downforce, you would want to add a splitter. I cannot see any way of keeping the stock airdam while at the same time having an effective splitter, so you would need to box the radiator to achieve the cooling you want.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:32 PM   #3
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Airdam:


Splitter:



Lawnmower
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:57 PM   #4
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Drudis...your car is awesome man!!! I notice that your air dan has somewhat of a "mini" splitter at the bottom. Now my question for you is which one works better or do they pretty much react the same? Also, I thought air dams are usually mounted on the radiator support as opposed to the front bumper cover as your's is?

My main goal is to get better cooling, but if I can also get better aero I'd like to go with that option.
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:13 PM   #5
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The airdam was too low, and after test mounting it, I sold it off.

The splitter creates more downforce, and for me that was "better" option.
The 1" at the bottom of the Saleen airdam was just for lowering the splitter to 3.0" off the ground, and used to mount the splitter.

Running an airdam under radiator support:
1. Creates high pressure area in front of radiator, forcing more air up/into radiator.
2. Creates low pressure area just behind radiator, causeing air to flow thru radiator back into jetstream under car.

IMOHO, with raidator airdam the bad part is this causes front end lift (forcing straight flow air under radiator, up into radiator).
So splitter separates the two. Smoothe underneath, and high pressure in front of radiator. The front of my radiator is boxed in with aluminum to force air thru radiator.

For street car, splitter is impractical. WAY too low.
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:24 PM   #6
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The airdam was too low, and after test mounting it, I sold it off.

The splitter creates more downforce, and for me that was "better" option.
The 1" at the bottom of the Saleen airdam was just for lowering the splitter to 3.0" off the ground, and used to mount the splitter.

Running an airdam under radiator support:
1. Creates high pressure area in front of radiator, forcing more air up/into radiator.
2. Creates low pressure area just behind radiator, causeing air to flow thru radiator back into jetstream under car.

IMOHO, with raidator airdam the bad part is this causes front end lift (forcing straight flow air under radiator, up into radiator).
So splitter separates the two. Smoothe underneath, and high pressure in front of radiator. The front of my radiator is boxed in with aluminum to force air thru radiator.

For street car, splitter is impractical. WAY too low.
My car is rarely driven on the street...basically to and from the track, but other than that, it sits idle. But i do understand that the splitter would be way too low for street driving.

1. So, if the splitter reduces the air going under the car and into the radiator, would there be less air going into the radiator, thus not helping to reduce temps? Would boxing in the radiator be the only other option to get good flow to the radiator while having a splitter?

2. If I went with an air dam mounted to the radiator support, would a heat extracting hood help with the hood lift issue when the air is being forced upward?

3. What is the better option...mounted an air dam to the front bumper cover (like your's was) or to the radiator support? Why?

Thanks for all the help!!!

Last edited by sydewaysix; 07-08-2011 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 07-10-2011, 01:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by drudis View Post
So splitter separates the two. Smoothe underneath, and high pressure in front of radiator. The front of my radiator is boxed in with aluminum to force air thru radiator.

For street car, splitter is impractical. WAY too low.
Drudis, do you have any pics of the box you made for the radiator?
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:03 AM   #8
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Simply remove and rebuld the first 12" of your car...
No great photos of the sheetmetal, forgot to phtograph DURING install, not much to see.







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Old 07-13-2011, 06:49 PM   #9
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...
Quote:
Originally Posted by sydewaysix View Post
My car is rarely driven on the street...basically to and from the track, but other than that, it sits idle. But i do understand that the splitter would be way too low for street driving.

1. So, if the splitter reduces the air going under the car and into the radiator, would there be less air going into the radiator, thus not helping to reduce temps? Would boxing in the radiator be the only other option to get good flow to the radiator while having a splitter?

IMO Darius's splitter design wouldn't provide proper cooling without also having a boxed radiator (which he, of course, HAS) because the stock air dam would not work anymore due to lack of airflow. So, boxing the radiator is the best option when going to a similar splitter design. I really can't think of a splitter that would allow the use of the stock air dam.

2. If I went with an air dam mounted to the radiator support, would a heat extracting hood help with the hood lift issue when the air is being forced upward?

Perhaps it would reduce some of the underhood pressure, but it would be hard to quantify this without a wind tunnel.

3. What is the better option...mounted an air dam to the front bumper cover (like your's was) or to the radiator support? Why?

For downforce and drag purposes, you would want the air dam attached to the leading edge of the bumper. Ideally, if you could totally seal off the underside of the car, you would do so for lower drag and higher downforce.

The thing is, you are confusing the function of the air dams when you ask "What is the better option" because, despite both being called air dams, they are performing two different tasks. The stock air dam, bolted to the radiator support, is solely there for cooling purposes. Create low pressure behind the radiator, forcing the air to travel upwards and through the radiator for cooling. It is not there to provide downforce or drag reduction, and in fact, does the opposite.

Darius's car is essentially a race car, so his goal is maximum downforce (and lower drag, to a lesser extent) for increased grip. If you want to utilize an air dam for this purpose, you want it at the leading edge of the bumper, end of story. Or, you could go with a splitter design, like he did.


Thanks for all the help!!!
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Old 07-13-2011, 10:09 PM   #10
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what would the pro/cons of say putting the ranger chin spoiler/air dam mod, on the leading edge of ummm an 87-93 lx front bump as apposed to the rad support be then. Just to give an example of the draw backs and pros of doing a set up like that
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:28 PM   #11
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what would the pro/cons of say putting the ranger chin spoiler/air dam mod, on the leading edge of ummm an 87-93 lx front bump as apposed to the rad support be then. Just to give an example of the draw backs and pros of doing a set up like that
Without a wind tunnel or track testing, I can't comment on exact effects of certain setups. However, my feeling is that a proper air dam extended from the front of the nose would be work better with a GT/Cobra/Saleen style bumper because it extends out straighter than the LX nose, making attachment easier.

EDIT: I kind of misread the question, but my answer would be that using the ranger air dam (or any dam attached to the bottom of the nose) will create more downforce and reduce drag more than an air dam that is attached to the radiator support. However, the downside is that with this kind of air dam, you MUST box the radiator, or you will not get proper cooling.

With that being said, the Ranger air dam is an interesting mod because it's larger size likely could contribute to blocking more air from going underneath the car, reducing drag, as well as creating a larger lower pressure zone in which more air could be drawn through the radiator. While it is an improvement over stock, it will not be nearly as effective the air dam Darius modeled above with regard to creating downforce.

If you are not interested in boxing your radiator, or need more ground clearance for street driving, than the Ranger air dam is a good compromise.

Last edited by 91TwighlightGT; 07-13-2011 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:43 AM   #12
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Without a wind tunnel or track testing, I can't comment on exact effects of certain setups. However, my feeling is that a proper air dam extended from the front of the nose would be work better with a GT/Cobra/Saleen style bumper because it extends out straighter than the LX nose, making attachment easier.

EDIT: I kind of misread the question, but my answer would be that using the ranger air dam (or any dam attached to the bottom of the nose) will create more downforce and reduce drag more than an air dam that is attached to the radiator support. However, the downside is that with this kind of air dam, you MUST box the radiator, or you will not get proper cooling.

With that being said, the Ranger air dam is an interesting mod because it's larger size likely could contribute to blocking more air from going underneath the car, reducing drag, as well as creating a larger lower pressure zone in which more air could be drawn through the radiator. While it is an improvement over stock, it will not be nearly as effective the air dam Darius modeled above with regard to creating downforce.

If you are not interested in boxing your radiator, or need more ground clearance for street driving, than the Ranger air dam is a good compromise.
So I'm still a bit confused after reading your answer regarding the attachment of the air dam to the bumper vs attaching it to the radiator support. First, you say that if attached to the nose of the bumper you MUST box in the radiator to get good cooling. Then you go onto saying that if you're NOT interested in boxing in the radiator then ranger dam is a good option.

Are you referring to attaching the ranger dam to the bumper or to the radiator support as being a good option if I don't want to box in the radiator?

Personally, I want better cooling so which ever option will provide that (attaching to the radiator support vs the front bumper) I will do. I also don't want to box in my radiator. Thanks

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Old 07-14-2011, 09:23 AM   #13
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Copied from another forum, for explanation. (Label them A,B,C,D)
If you ONLY add under radiator = more high pressure "A".
If you ONLY add green blockoff from front bumper to radiator( do not add airdam under radiator), then you are like "C".
I went for option "D" (sort'a), without airdam in front of splitter, but basically shows what I was after.

FOR A STREET CAR, DO OPTION "A".

http://www.forums.corner-carvers.com...1&d=1167289372

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Old 07-14-2011, 09:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydewaysix View Post
So I'm still a bit confused after reading your answer regarding the attachment of the air dam to the bumper vs attaching it to the radiator support. First, you say that if attached to the nose of the bumper you MUST box in the radiator to get good cooling. Then you go onto saying that if you're NOT interested in boxing in the radiator then ranger dam is a good option.

Are you referring to attaching the ranger dam to the bumper or to the radiator support as being a good option if I don't want to box in the radiator?

Personally, I want better cooling so which ever option will provide that (attaching to the radiator support vs the front bumper) I will do. I also don't want to box in my radiator. Thanks

In your case, the ranger air dam mounted in the stock location (the radiator support) would be your best bet. The reason is because the larger than stock ranger air dam provides better cooling and lower drag.

You only want to mount an air dam to the leading edge of the nose if you are going to box the radiator. If you don't want to do this, then you MUST keep the air dam located under the radiator to provide cooling. It is that simple.

Incidentally, there is a large thread on the corral regarding the Ranger air dam mod...

Front air dam - OEM, inexpensive, easy
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:07 AM   #15
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another stupid question, to box the rad does that require all 4 corners to be boxed or just the bottom side?
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:10 AM   #16
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Box = 4-sided box.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:19 AM   #17
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how far will the box need to extend from the rad to function properly or just extend in all directions until it can't extend further.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:34 AM   #18
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The purpose is to seal all air entering in front of radiator, to force it thru the radiator (not around sides of radiator, nor around thru holed in radiator support, nor thru headlight access holes...)

Seal it as far worward as possible. Preferable to front bumper cover. In all 3-D directions.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:38 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drudis View Post
Copied from another forum, for explanation. (Label them A,B,C,D)
If you ONLY add under radiator = more high pressure "A".
If you ONLY add green blockoff from front bumper to radiator( do not add airdam under radiator), then you are like "C".
I went for option "D" (sort'a), without airdam in front of splitter, but basically shows what I was after.

FOR A STREET CAR, DO OPTION "A".



can you repost the picture for A/B? I can om;y see the image for C/D.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:40 AM   #20
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After re-reading all the posts I think I have a much better understanding regarding air dams vs splitters. In my situation, where I want to get better cooling, I believe I'll need to add an air dam to the radiator support in order to get better air flow into my radiator.

Now, I have another question about splitters. I've seen some cars with "splitters" that are only attached to the two corners of the front bumper and not one that runs across the entire length of the front bumper. Do these work any better/worse than the standard style splitters that run across the entire width of the front bumper? Would these "corner splitters" work alongside with an air dam mounted to the radiator support? Do you know where/who sells these types of splitters specifically for sn95 mustangs?

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Old 07-15-2011, 10:37 AM   #21
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For those that have boxed the radiator, does your sheetmetal follow the curvature of the front bumper on the sides of the box? If you got it to follow the curvature, what way did you use to find that curvature?

When I made my rear seat delete I had to make it miss points of the roll bar and the battery box so I used construction paper to make the template, then transferred it to the MDF for tracing and cutting. I'd imagine that would be my answer here too but interested in others' experience.
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Old 07-15-2011, 10:50 AM   #22
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Yes - rounded to meet with Saleen Airdam curvature.
Yes - template from construction paper, traced to sheet aluminum.

Repairs after "lawnmowing" at VIR with 110mph off...
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Old 07-15-2011, 11:04 AM   #23
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Quote:
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After re-reading all the posts I think I have a much better understanding regarding air dams vs splitters. In my situation, where I want to get better cooling, I believe I'll need to add an air dam to the radiator support in order to get better air flow into my radiator.

Now, I have another question about splitters. I've seen some cars with "splitters" that are only attached to the two corners of the front bumper and not one that runs across the entire length of the front bumper. Do these work any better/worse than the standard style splitters that run across the entire width of the front bumper? Would these "corner splitters" work alongside with an air dam mounted to the radiator support? Do you know where/who sells these types of splitters specifically for sn95 mustangs?

I've not seen these style of splitters for Mustangs. I suppose that with a proper setup, they would work to a degree, but it is hard to say without wind tunnel (or at least track testing) time.

The one thing to be careful about when comparing cars is that they do not all have the same cooling setup as the Mustang. Our cars are bottom breathers, and they use the air dam as a necessity to cool. I believe that is a Mazda RX8 in the photograph you posted, and it may not need any air going underneath the car in order to cool properly.

In addition, splitter height does play a role in how effective they are. Generally, you want them to be pretty low to the ground in order to function. When you see cars that have 6 inches of ride height from the front bumper to the ground sporting a splitter, it is really more for looks than function. Looking at Darius's car, you can see that his splitter is probably no more than 2-3 inches off of the ground at resting height. The point in all of this is that if you are running a street car, unless you have a removable splitter, you would probably destroy it during everyday driving.

If you are enterprising, I would say try the corner splitter idea out and let us know how it goes. There could be some benefit if it can produce any sort of meaningful lift reduction or downforce, which Mustangs always need. You would probably have to fabricate your own, though.
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:03 AM   #24
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I'm going to bring this thread back to life...

I plan to move forward with a cooling mod but want to know which direction I should take.

1. Would boxing in the radiator be more efficient than installing a deeper air dam (without boxing in the sides of the radiator)?

2. If I do box in my radiator, would it be best to box in the lower part as well (radiator support to front bumper cover) or would it be better to box in the sides of the radiator and make a deeper air dam (leaving the bottom of the radiator "open")?

3. Does boxing in the radiator consist of blocking off the top of the radiator? If so, does anyone have pics of this?

4. Assuming I use thin aluminum sheet metal, what is the best way to attach the sheet metal to the car?

5. If I make holes on either side of the aluminum box for brake ducts, will this flow enough air to the rotors or would I need some type of fan/blower?

Thanks!!!
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Old 08-19-2011, 01:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydewaysix View Post
I'm going to bring this thread back to life...

I plan to move forward with a cooling mod but want to know which direction I should take.

1. Would boxing in the radiator be more efficient than installing a deeper air dam (without boxing in the sides of the radiator)?

Did you decide if you where going to do a splitter or no splitter?

2. If I do box in my radiator, would it be best to box in the lower part as well (radiator support to front bumper cover) or would it be better to box in the sides of the radiator and make a deeper air dam (leaving the bottom of the radiator "open")?

Boxed means boxed, all 4 corners. But again, this depends if your doing a splitter. If you're going to box, you should go all the way. If you leave an opening, air that could be forced through the radiator will try to escape through the hole you leave, and you will have a compromised solution.

3. Does boxing in the radiator consist of blocking off the top of the radiator? If so, does anyone have pics of this?

See above. Someone else would need to provide pictures though.

4. Assuming I use thin aluminum sheet metal, what is the best way to attach the sheet metal to the car?

I've seen people use screws or rivets generally. Personally I'd imagine screws would be more friendly since it allows you to take it on and off without drilling everything, but then you need to worry about if your attaching to a strong enough material.

5. If I make holes on either side of the aluminum box for brake ducts, will this flow enough air to the rotors or would I need some type of fan/blower?

Generally brake ducts go to the GT foglight holes, or some kind of fabbed up intake, not through the radiator opening. See the link after the quote.

Thanks!!!
Link for brake ducts: Fox Mustang

If you're just doing a HPDE once in a while, the ranger air dam at the bottom of the radiator support (plus a few supports for the sides that go far to the side) is a plenty good mod to get some extra cooling. I did it, and while I have not been able to get to the track this year, driving around quite a bit with it has shown that basically if I'm moving at any appreciable speed the car can stay cool without need of my electric fan. I'm not running anything crazy (331 with only 300hp), but even my undersized single core radiator can cool the car at speed.
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Old 08-19-2011, 04:47 PM   #26
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for a car that is street driven but road coursed on occasion will boxing the rad hurt the cars cooling. Or there is no real downfall to boxing the rad?
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:47 AM   #27
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for a car that is street driven but road coursed on occasion will boxing the rad hurt the cars cooling. Or there is no real downfall to boxing the rad?
There is no real downfall.
Check out the new cars (F150's to be exact) all the rubber/plastic they used around the radiator and grill opening to seal in the radiator.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:22 PM   #28
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I finally got a chance to box in my radiator and have a question regarding air dams (you can see my box fabrication here: Best way to keep engine cool 98 cobra?? ).

Another guy on svtperformance said to reattach my custom 3.5" air dam back under the radiator support even with my boxed in radiator, yet I'm reading and heard from a few others, that with the boxed in radiator I should mount the air dam on the bottom of the bumper.

What is the best thing to do from here:

1. add the deeper 3.5" air dam to the stock location under the radiator support

2. add an air dam on the bottom of the front bumper (like how Drudis had his)

3. leave it as-is - just boxed in with no air dam

Opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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