The wind. It’s something we’ve all felt, but few have really considered its impact, especially when it comes to driving. You’ve loaded up your roof rack, ready for a weekend adventure, and suddenly you feel your car struggling against an unseen force. That, my friend, is wind resistance. It’s the result of air opposing the movement of your vehicle, and it increases as your speed goes up.
But where does a roof rack fit into all this? Well, while your vehicle is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, adding a roof rack disrupts the smooth flow of air over the car. It’s like trying to smoothly brush long hair only to find a knot halfway through. The air gets caught on the rack and its cargo, resulting in an increased drag force, which then means your engine has to work harder to maintain speed, leading to higher fuel consumption.
But don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you give up on the idea of a roof rack. There’s a superhero accessory that can come to your rescue – the wind deflector.
The Science Behind Wind Deflectors
Ever seen that cool-looking shield-like object on the front of some roof racks? That’s a wind deflector, and it’s not just there for aesthetics. This clever piece of equipment helps mitigate the effects of wind resistance, but how exactly?
The science is simple but effective. As your vehicle moves forward, it pushes the air in its path. Some of this air goes over the vehicle, some around the sides, and the rest under it. When a roof rack is installed, it obstructs the flow of air going over the top of the vehicle, causing it to move slower, which results in a pressure build-up, leading to wind resistance or drag.
That’s where the wind deflector steps in. By creating a streamlined path for the air, it reduces the amount of air hitting the roof rack and its cargo directly. Instead, the air is ‘deflected’ over and around the roof rack, thereby reducing wind resistance and noise. It’s like parting your hair smoothly around the knot, instead of getting the brush stuck in it.
Wind Deflectors and Fuel Efficiency
By now, you probably have a basic understanding of how a wind deflector works. But here’s where it gets really interesting – by reducing wind resistance, a wind deflector can actually help improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
When your vehicle has to battle against wind resistance, the engine has to work harder, burning more fuel in the process. In fact, the extra drag from a roof rack can decrease your car’s fuel efficiency by a significant amount.
A wind deflector, by reducing this resistance, decreases the amount of work your engine has to do to maintain speed. This means less fuel burned, and more money saved at the gas pump. It’s a win-win situation, really.
Choosing the Right Wind Deflector
Just like most car accessories, not all wind deflectors are created equal. There are several factors to consider when choosing the right wind deflector for your roof rack.
Size Does Matter
When it comes to wind deflectors, size is not merely about aesthetics. The width of your wind deflector should be broad enough to cover the front of your roof rack effectively. If it’s too narrow, air can slip past the sides, creating noise and reducing the deflector’s efficiency. However, a wind deflector that’s too wide could cause unnecessary drag and become a potential hazard if it extends beyond the width of your car. Consider your vehicle’s size and the dimensions of your roof rack while selecting the perfect fit.
Material Matters Too
Next up is the material of the wind deflector. Most wind deflectors are made of durable plastic or acrylic, designed to resist the onslaught of wind, rain, and sun. The material needs to be robust to withstand these harsh elements, all while being flexible enough to resist cracking or breaking under stress. In a nutshell, you need a material that can go the distance, surviving both your road trips and the unpredictable weather patterns they may encounter.
Design and Functionality: Striking the Balance
Design is another crucial factor to consider. But remember, we’re not just talking about how sleek or edgy the wind deflector looks. A well-designed wind deflector will have a curved profile to guide the air smoothly over your roof rack and cargo. It’s also essential that the design of the wind deflector doesn’t compromise the functionality of your roof rack. For example, it shouldn’t impede your ability to load or unload cargo or access any other components of the roof rack.
Ease of Installation
Finally, consider the installation process. Some wind deflectors can be easily mounted to existing roof rack systems using simple clamps or brackets, while others may require additional hardware or more complex installation procedures. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, this might not be a big deal. However, if you prefer a more straightforward approach, opting for a wind deflector with an easy installation process could save you time and potential frustration.
To Deflect or Not to Deflect?
So, we’ve taken a look at how wind deflectors work and the benefits they offer, but is it worth getting one? In our opinion, absolutely.
A wind deflector is a relatively inexpensive investment considering the potential benefits. From reducing wind noise to improving fuel efficiency, it’s an accessory that offers more than what meets the eye. Not to mention, it gives your vehicle a streamlined, sporty look.
But remember, while a wind deflector can help counteract the effects of wind resistance, it’s not a magic solution. It’s still important to be mindful of the weight and size of the cargo on your roof rack, as these can also impact your vehicle’s performance.