How to reduce air resistance in a vehicle?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Making a car more aerodynamic reduces fuel consumption. To improve air resistance in a car, manufacturers attempt to reduce what is called aerodynamic drag, or the force that opposes the direction of the thrust of a car. Aerodynamic drag can be reduced by altering the density of the air and the vehicle speed, but these factors are not easily controlled. Instead, to reduce drag, car manufacturers can make the height and width of the front of the car smaller. However, as the driver and passengers of the car want to be comfortable, there is only so much that manufacturers can reduce the size of the front of the car.

Instead, car manufacturers can alter the shape of the car to reduce aerodynamic drag. The teardrop turns out to be the most streamlined shape, but this shape is impractical for car design. To reduce the drag behind a car, which is the area that has the greatest drag, designers can create a tapering end to the car. This shape reduces drag and the forces that try to propel the car backwards. In addition, to reduce drag created by air flowing between the wheels and on the underside of the car body, designers can install panelling that stops air from coming into contact with the axles, exhaust, and suspension. Finally, to reduce friction on the surface of the car, the car body can be very polished and clean.

versatilekamini | Student

Air resistance is very important consideration for solar cars, or any vehicle that travels at high speeds, since the power to overcome air drag increases cubically with speed. In other words, if you double your speed, the power required to overcome air resistance increases by a factor of eight.

Air resistance is (more or less) the friction which we  get from moving through the air. If a car is going faster, then it will hit the atoms and molecules of the air harder. This means that the tiny forces will be bigger. This in  turn means that the air resistance force gets bigger as something moves faster.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The air resistance of a vehicle depends on three factors. These are shape of the vehicle, surface finish and speed o the vehicle with respect to the air. Out of these three factors the most important factors is the shape of the vehicle. This is almost entirely determined by the vehicle manufacturer. The user of the vehicle has limited control over this in form of external accessories fitted on the vehicle. Any luggage carrier fitted on top of a car or other vehicle can increase air resistance significantly, particularly if luggage has been loaded. Keeping the windows of the vehicle open amounts to changing the shape of the vehicle, and tends to increase air resistance.

The relative speed of vehicle, particularly at high speed also has significant effect on air resistance. However it is not a practical solution to keep the speed of vehicle low just to reduce air resistance.

A smoother surface offers less resistance to air. Therefor, one can keep the vehicle well painted and polished to keep the air resistance low.