We've all made the same jokes. You see a front-wheel-drive street car go by and there's a massive rear spoiler hanging off its tail. It's an easy item on a car at which to poke some fun.
In some cases, however, that rear spoiler on the right front-wheel-drive car makes a heck of a lot of sense.
Our man Jason at Engineering Explained is prepared to drop some science on you for this one.
It all comes down to the fact that a spoiler or rear wing can create downforce. The issue lies with the fact that the vehicle wearing said spoiler or wing needs to be going fast enough for it to do this. Your average street car gets no benefit, other than a styling upgrade, with respect to its rear fiberglass jewelry.
A race car, on the other hand, needs that extra bit of physics happening over the rear tires.
A rear spoiler on a front-driver race car will help with braking, cornering, and the reduction of lift. Under heavy braking, the rear of the car might want to come around, as the load forces are transitioned heavily to the nose. A rear spoiler can help mitigate some of that and keep the rear contact patches more firmly planted.
There's more physics involved here, and we'll let Jason walk you through it all. Just know that you still don't need a spoiler on the back of your Civic... but if you think it looks cool, it's certainly not hurting anything.