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The Purpose of a Front Air Dam on a Truck

truck front air dam purposeAt RECON, we are connoisseurs of all things trucks. We want our trucks to be big, powerful, and to look altogether rad. But we also recognize a few realities. Gas is costly — even with improving fuel efficiency standards in the industry, large, high-performance trucks drink up a lot of petrol. With that said, front air dams might provide truck owners with a way to squeeze a few extra miles out of their tanks while making their trucks look even sweeter than they already did.

If you don’t have a front air dam on your truck, it’s time to consider installing one. Read on to find out how this minor truck alteration can save you money and improve your ride’s performance.

What is a Front Air Dam, and How Does It Work?

On the off chance you aren’t sure what we’re talking about, a front air dam is an attachment or extension of the front bumper that helps redirect air underneath the vehicle. In other words, it makes your truck — or another vehicle if that’s how you roll — more aerodynamic. The more you can cut down on the wind resistance at the head of your truck, the less energy it will require to maintain whatever speed you want to push forward. But there’s also another advantage to front air dams: they fight the lift on your vehicle and increase traction.

The real benefits of front air dams on trucks occur at higher speeds. When you’re driving over 60 mph, the wind resistance and lift really start to affect your ride. A front air dam can help minimize these effects.

Aerodynamics and Your Vehicle

From an aerodynamics standpoint, the air moves slower under a truck compared to the air above it. While the truck’s body moves at the same velocity, the air above the truck interacts with a greater surface area than the air passing underneath, which means that the velocity of that air is higher, and that creates lift. For more on this effect, read up on Bernoulli’s principle, or if that’s too tl;dr for you, take our word for it. If your front air dam is designed and installed properly, it fights that effect. It holds the front end of your truck down, which improves the vehicle’s stability at higher speeds. It also helps cut and redirect the air, which assists with fuel efficiency.

But Then, What is a Splitter?

You might be a little confused about front air dams and splitters. A lot of people are. Splitters are also mounted to the front of a vehicle to reduce lift and improve road traction. It just accomplishes this differently than the way the front air dam does. When a vehicle reaches high speeds, there is a lift as air channels above the vehicle is moving at a higher rate than the air below, which creates lift and reduces traction. The splitter redirects some air to push the vehicle toward the road, which counters the lift.

Front Air Dam Effects

In addition to enhancing fuel efficiency, front air dams on trucks look awesome. The additional surface area gives truck enthusiasts a playground to add LED front dam lights and other fun accessories. They do lower the overall profile of the vehicle. Still, we think the tradeoff is well worth it between the increased aerodynamic properties, the aesthetic appeal, and the platform for additional lights.

What Are the Benefits of a Front Air Dam and a Splitter?

So, you can have a front air dam without a splitter or a splitter without a front air dam, but there’s no reason not to have both. While it’s true that both front air dams and splitters manipulate the air that’s rushing at your truck, they work in different ways. If your splitter and air dam are correctly installed, they can have a symbiotic effect that will put the wind that your truck is slicing through to work for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Front Air Dams

We know you want to put a new front air dam and maybe a splitter on your whip, but you have questions. We’ll do our best to answer all of your front air dam and splitter queries.

What Do I Need to Know If I Want to Install a Front Air Dam on My Truck?

To begin with, you need to make sure you purchase a front air dam that fits your make, model, and year. Whether installing an air dam that attaches to your front bumper or replacing your entire front bumper, you need to decide whether you have the skills to make the upgrade yourself or whether you should take it to a body shop. Remember, your front air dam will be under constant pressure — that’s its job. So, if it’s loose or shakes in high wind, it’s not only going to be annoying, it could defeat the whole purpose. The same goes for front splitters.

Is There a Downside to Front Air Dams?

There are a couple, but we think the upside makes it worth the tradeoff. For one, it will slightly lower the underside profile of your vehicle. Since you’re driving a truck, we think you can afford to give up a few inches. Secondly, it is an additional expense. Again, since you own a truck, we’re assuming you have an upgrade budget because tricking out trucks is too addictive not to have one. You may also consider that the fuel efficiency you achieve will eventually pay for the cost of the upgrade if you drive the truck for long enough.

What Does an Aftermarket Air Dam Cost?

An aftermarket front air dam alone is relatively cheap compared to other truck accessories. You can find an aftermarket front air dam for less than $100, but obviously, those are very low-end generic parts. If you’re looking for a custom front air dam for a full-size FORD, GMC, CHEVY, DODGE, etc., you may be paying a few hundred dollars. If you want to replace the entire front bumper piece with one that has an air dam and splitter — because if you’re going this route, you really should have it all — you may be paying over $1,000 plus labor if you have someone else install it.

What Kind of Lights Should I Put On My Front Air Dam?

There are dozens of front air dam LED lights that easily mount to front air dams on older and newer trucks. Some kits sell front lower air dam LED lights individually, in pairs, or nine sets. You have several color options as well. RECON, for instance, sells clear, black, and smoked LED lights. We recommend LED lights because they have an extremely low heat output, have a minimum energy draw, so you can leave them on for a while when your truck is shut off, and they last virtually forever. Be careful installing red or blue LED lights on your front dam, as these colors are often reserved for emergency vehicles, and you could get a ticket for an equipment violation. We think this light effect looks fantastic on trucks, so it’s worth doing all at once.

RECON and Your Ride

RECON wants to be your one-stop-shop for truck parts and accessories, but we also want you to like what you buy. Contact customer service for quick, accurate answers if you have any questions about RECON front air dam accessories, front air dams, splitters, or anything else relating to parts we sell. We also have a solid return policy, so shop with confidence today!