AUTO BODY REPAIR SPECIAL – Complete Carbon Fiber #4: Wings
Let’s close out this introductory carbon fiber guide for Tempe’s novice auto body repair and customization enthusiasts by discussing wings.
No, you haven’t been mistakenly redirected to a post-Beatles Paul McCartney fan website. Nor have you stumbled upon gameday snacker’s lexicon. A carbon fiber spoiler, side or rear skirt or adjustable wing’s appeal is an even blend of improved aerodynamics, tighter handling and stability at high speeds, and an undeniably memorable sporty look. Any and all of the above enhance a vehicle’s ground effects systems by planting it to the road when in motion. These are add-ons to be taken anything but lightly.
Good news, everyone: this is one time a carbon fiber auto body upgrade probably won’t be cost prohibitive.
Taking variances in labor out of the occasion, especially among tuners with appropriate know-how, carbon fiber wings and spoilers cost as little as $150. Even among these racing-inspired lightweight materials, however, beware getting what you pay for at the lowest price point. As long as you’re shelling out for premium aftermarket quality, you might as well consider premium wing kits in the $400-$1,000 range and get the most improved performance and style for your money.
Given the aerodynamic fine-tuning they make possible for competitive drivers, let it come as no surprise that adjustable carbon fiber wings are more pricey than most. Tuners who prize the Euro look love more discreet duck-tail wings, while others are dedicated to replacing some vehicles’ OEM spoilers with something more personally sporty. Meanwhile, though they certainly have their performance merits, a number of wings and skirts do much more for a vehicle’s street appeal than its handling.
Before laying out a chunk of change, take the time to consider why you want wings in the first place. Eagles and hummingbirds both fly. How similar are they?
TOUGHING IT OUT: DURABILITY, WARRANTIES, AND INSTALLING WITH CARE
Practically across the board, carbon fiber’s durability is rarely in doubt. You wouldn’t know it from its feathery weight, but these parts are designed to endure elite racing’s auto body onslaught of high speeds and heavy impact. Just don’t mistake “triple-tough” for “invincible”.
That toughness comes at a cost, and we aren’t strictly talking about the initial price tag: carbon fiber can’t be repaired. Wreck something, and you have no choice but to bolt on a new kit.
While on the subject, that brings us to some closing caveats concerning carbon fiber upgrades and your vehicle’s warranty. It takes under 30 minutes for an experienced professional installer or savvy DIY auto body repair and customization hobbyist to install almost any carbon fiber wing with a few basic hand tools. At the same time, that’s also how long it takes for required minor drilling and paint applications to void the warranty of a car not originally equipped with, say, a rear spoiler.
Installation requiring center-mounted aftermarket carbon wings may drastically increase costs even on vehicles already fitted with spoilers. Take both the value of your warranty and the total sum of expected expenses into careful consideration before buying a kit.
Remember also that while you may possess the know-how to fit your car with an aftermarket carbon fiber makeover, there are few substitutes for the time and margin of personal error spared by enlisting a professional, especially when it comes to adjustable wings. These add-ons in particular require wind tunnel and road testing to optimize your vehicle’s aerodynamic efficiency.
Finally, one last reminder to utterly disregard any myths you may have picked up over the years from even seasoned auto body repair professionals across Tempe about it being out of the question to paint carbon fiber. Not only is it as feasible as with any other material, provided the surface has been properly sanded to ensure proper bonding beforehand, but painting with a finishing layer of clear coat is actually highly recommended. Carbon fiber looks particularly striking naked, but the extra layers will further shield your already durable aftermarket add-ons from persistent onslaughts of debris and elemental damage.