Why do cars even need grilles?

Vehicles these days all have different grill sizes, from the lean lines of the Chevy Camaro to the wide intake lines of the GMC Sierra, and the shape of the grille can define the style of the car, from stylish, to aggressive, to downright weird. But looking at the array of different shapes and sizes of grilles even on the Chevy, GMC, and Buick vehicles on the lot at Craig Dunn begs the question “Why do cars even need grilles?” We investigated, so keep reading for the best answer we could find.

New GM Inventory

What do car grilles do?

While the look of a grille is certainly vitally important for customer satisfaction, each grille also plays a very important role in cooling the vehicle’s engine, specifically the radiator. Without some way for air to flow into the engine compartment, a car would pose a major risk of overheating. While many modern cars could get enough air cooling through vents underneath the vehicle (and so could skip the front grille) it’s more effective and cool to have a grille in the front.

So while the grille is important, that leave a lot of leeway for how it actually looks. Just by looking at grille designs through the ages (and a handful of modern options) it’s easy to see that the grille can define the style of the car.

GMC Canyon Active Grille technology for improved truck performance
1914 Grand Baby Chevrolet view of the grille and lights
grille and front of 2015 Chevrolet Silverado

New grille technology can improve performance

While grilles come in all shapes and sizes, some technology using them can even improve performance. Many modern cars like the 2016 Chevy Volt and the 2016 GMC Canyon have aerodynamic technology that will close some of the grille grating when the vehicle is moving at top speeds. This reduces drag and improved aerodynamic flow. Other vehicles like the elite performance trims of the Chevy Camaro have specializes airflow paths built into the hood so that air can easily move through the engine and out in such a way that the Camaro can maintain its tight hold on the track and efficiently cool the radiator.

2014 Chevy Camaro aerodynamic grille airflow design

Basically, cars do still need grilles, and every year they are getting cooler than ever.

How can I keep my car’s cabin from getting too hot?

How can I keep my car’s cabin from getting too hot?

What if my car gets stuck in the snow?

What if my car gets stuck in the snow?


Why do cars even need grilles? - Craig Dunn Chevy Buick GMC Ltd

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