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.