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Summary
  • The car engine cover is a part that covers the engine.
  • Some engine covers have the air filter built into it.
  • Car engine covers also improve the engine’s appearance, protect against dust and NVH, and insulate the engine.
  • Removing the engine cover is safe in some models and not recommended in others.

Does your car or truck come with an engine cover? Then you’ve probably wondered if the part does anything for your vehicle. Many drivers prefer to permanently remove the car engine cover because they believe it’s useless or dangerous. There are also stories of people uninstalling the cover, forgetting to reinstall it, and driving without problems. However, manufacturers might have their reasons for covering the engine.

What Is the Car Engine Cover?

The engine cover is a wide panel on top of your vehicle’s engine block. It stretches across most of the engine’s upper surface. If the engine has two banks of cylinders, the cover will protect both banks.

Most engine covers are made of sturdy plastic that can resist high temperatures. However, some use other materials that are similarly light yet strong, such as aluminum or carbon fiber.

mechanic removing an engine cover
The engine cover is a wide panel on top of your vehicle’s engine block.

What Does an Engine Cover Do?

The engine cover fulfills several purposes in your vehicle. Let’s look at each of those functions:

Air Filtration

Some car engine covers have the engine air filter attached to them. The filter screens the air for particulate matter that might clog, jam, or damage sensitive engine parts. While usually a separate part, the air filter might get incorporated into the engine cover for various reasons.

Some luxury car models feature car engine covers with a built-in air filter. Mercedes-Benz likes to engineer the filter into the engine cover of various cars. Some generations of the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat also have air filters in their engine covers.

Depending on the design, you might have to replace the entire car engine cover if the air filter that’s built into it stops working.

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Beauty Cover

Form follows function in a car engine. Cylinders jut from the engine block’s top, various hoses and wires snake throughout the assembly, and myriad different parts squeeze into the limited space of the engine bay. The designers try to organize everything, but not everyone can find the result aesthetically pleasing.

Fortunately, the car engine cover can hide the messier parts of the engine. These covers usually sport a decorative feature, such as the manufacturer’s logo.

Dust Protection

Even if the car engine cover lacks an air filter, it keeps the engine clean in another way. The panel blocks dirt and dust from directly landing on the engine’s external surfaces.

Particulate matter accumulates on the engine. If a part gets caked in a thick layer of dust, it can develop problems. The dirt can corrode exposed metal and trap heat, increasing the chance of overheating.

The engine cover blocks the direct path to the engine. It protects the wires, connectors, and other electrical components from getting caked in dirt, keeping them clean and cool.

NVH Protection

The car engine cover protects against noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). When you drive, various moving parts produce sounds and transmit vibrations that shake other components. The noises can get loud enough to distract you or make driving uncomfortable.

One example of a noisy engine part is the fuel pump in direct injection vehicles. Some models use a mechanical pump that makes loud ticks as it pressurizes gasoline or diesel slated for the engine. The ticking sounds might prove distracting or mislead you into thinking that there’s a problem with your car or truck.

Fortunately, the car engine cover dampens the noises from mechanical fuel pumps and other noisy engine parts. It gives you peace of mind while you drive, allowing you to concentrate on important things on the road.

Thermal Insulation

Some car engine covers have reflective heat shields underneath that help control the engine’s temperature. Some drivers prefer to remove the car engine cover if they drive in hot weather. They point out that the cover’s insulating effect is unnecessary and potentially dangerous. The engine doesn’t need the extra heat when it’s already hot outside. The cooling system must work harder than usual to compensate for the higher temperatures. If the coolant cannot handle the heat, the engine might overheat. There’s also the risk of a burning or melting engine cover 

In certain models, driving without the engine cover isn’t recommended. The heat radiating from the uncovered engine rises directly into the car hood’s bottom. If the metal gets too hot, the hood might deform.

The car engine cover isn’t just an accessory that spruces up the engine bay. It often plays vital roles in engine operation. In many cases, it’s best to leave the engine cover in place. If you’re going to remove or replace it, consult a mechanic.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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