Engine Splash Shield Buyer's Guide
- The engine splash shield is a plastic or metal protective panel installed on the underside of an automotive engine.
- The upper engine splash shield allows airflow to go to the intake while covering the belt, fans, sensors, and radiator.
- The lower engine splash guard, meanwhile, shields the exhaust and transmission systems.
- Engine splash shields prevent physical damage to underbody parts, prevent rust and corrosion damage, direct airflow to underbody engine components, and help vehicle owners save on future repairs.
- Most engine splash shields get replaced once they make noises underneath the vehicle as they hang and drag on the road.
- Extreme temperatures, rust and corrosion, and other road chemicals can cause damage to the engine splash guard. To keep your vehicle’s underbody protected, be sure to have this part checked and replaced as needed.
- You may also upgrade your splash guard to a tougher material to provide added protection while going off-roading.
- Consider make-specific shields, material options, and airflow to find the best engine splash shield replacement.
- An OE replacement splash guard will cost you anywhere from less than a dollar to $160. These sell individually, in sets of two to four, or as part of a complete kit.
- With the right tools and know-how, you can easily install your new engine splash shield on your own.
What is an engine splash shield?
The engine splash shield is a plastic or metal protective panel installed on the underside of a vehicle engine. It goes by many other names including engine splash guard, skid plate, underbody cover, and lower engine cover. It protects critical under-car parts, particularly engine components, that can get damaged because of exposure to the elements and kicked up road debris.
Types of engine splash shields
Most vehicles come with two types of shields—an upper and a lower shield. The upper engine splash shield allows airflow to go to the intake while covering the belt, fans, sensors, and radiator. The lower engine splash guard, meanwhile, shields the exhaust and transmission systems.
Are engine splash guards necessary?
Absolutely. Here are several reasons engine splash shields are an important part of your vehicle.
Prevent physical damage to underbody parts
Sharp rocks, branches, debris, and even driving over curbs can cause the undercarriage of your vehicle to get damaged. Vehicles with low profiles are prone to getting underbody components punctured, resulting in gas or fluid leaks that can affect the performance of your vehicle.
Prevent rust and corrosion damage
Engine splash guards protect the engine compartment from damage caused by things like water, slush, and snow. Without this protective panel, exposure to the things mentioned above can accelerate wear on critical parts and cause rust to build up in metal components.
Direct airflow to underbody components
More than just offering protection from the elements, the splash shield also directs airflow to the engine intake and keeps all the surrounding parts cool by directing air to parts that could heat such as the oil pan or alternator. Some would say that it also reduces aerodynamic drag, which has a positive effect on a car’s fuel economy.
Save on future repairs
Most vehicle owners are mindful of protecting the body of their vehicle from scratches, dents, and dings. They also stick to the maintenance schedule for parts under the hood. However, many people find it tempting to take off the splash shield when it comes loose and starts hanging off the vehicle.
This mistake could end up costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in repair costs that you could easily prevent had you replaced a damaged engine splash shield. You’ll notice that your alternator or drive belt will wear out faster with a missing splash guard. Electrical connections that run underneath the vehicle could also get damaged and require repair. In the winter, road salt corrode electrical and steel components if left unprotected.
When to replace an engine splash shield
Most vehicle owners switch out their engine splash shield for a new one after encountering issues with their existing skid plate. However, you may also replace this part to customize and boost the performance of your vehicle off-road. Here are some reasons you should get a new engine splash shield:
Engine splash shield dragging
One of the most common issues among vehicles is engine splash shield dragging. As many automotive repair discussion threads show, most drivers aren’t aware of the engine skid plate until the cover comes loose, and they notice scraping noises from underneath the vehicle. Over time, the fasteners of these skid plates may come loose or break, causing the panel to get dragged on the road.
Upgrade for performance
Engine splash shield replacement is common for 4x4 and other off-road vehicles that frequently drive over big rocks, branches, and boulders. While most stock splash shields look good, it helps to upgrade to an aftermarket splash shield made from a thick and strong metal.
Why is an engine splash shield replacement important?
The engine splash shield takes a beating because of its location in the undercarriage and also because of its function as a protective panel. While most car engine shields use high-performance plastic, extreme cold temperatures can make it brittle and cause parts to break off easily.
Metal underbody covers als get damaged. As it protects the underbody of your vehicle, metal splash guards could suffer from rust build-up and corrosion. To prevent rust from spreading to the vehicle frame and other metal components under your vehicle, you should always have this part checked and replaced when needed.
What to consider when buying an engine splash shield
An engine splash shield is a cover located at the underside of cars. It protects your engine from potential damage caused by bumps, water and debris. Depending on road conditions, stock engine shields can become loose or torn, making them ineffective guards. There are certain considerations when picking replacement shields.
Engine splash shields are not universal. Shields are designed to perfectly fit only specific models. Each shield is fitted with slots and grooves suited for a model's engine protection and air flow. Unless you can drive peacefully knowing your car is in danger because of the wrong engine shield, make sure that whatever shield you are buying is the right one for your car.
Most engine splash shields are made of high density plastics or fiberglass. These types of shields offer a great balance between durability and protection. They are ideal mostly for cars driving under ideal conditions. However, if you happen to unfortunately bump the underside of your car, go through intense floods, or just pass through a very rocky road, chances are these light shields will be damaged.
For a more durable choice, try metal or aluminum shields. More expensive, these tougher shields offer better protection against foreign objects compared to their plastic counterparts. Take note that this heavier guard will add extra weight and alter alter the balance your car.
A complete seal of the engine's underside for protection will increase the engine's temperature to dangerous levels. To combat this, engine splash shields are strategically fitted with slots to ensure smooth air flow in and out of the engine compartment. For more air, dual sheet shields enhance air flow compared to a single sheet while keeping its ability to protect the engine.
How much does it cost to replace an engine splash shield?
The cost to replace an engine splash shield may vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. An OE replacement splash guard will cost you anywhere from less than a dollar to $160. These sell individually, in sets of two to four, or as part of a complete kit.
How to easily install an engine splash shield
Engine splash shields serve as a protection against road bumps, liquids and debris. Despite the abuse the shields must take, these are usually made of soft material secured by light screws and clips. One wrong bump, your engine is left with a torn and dangling shield. Replacing shields only requires a few simple steps.
Difficulty Level: Easy
- Floor jack
- Jack stand
- Replacement screws and clips (if necessary)
- Replacement engine splash shield
Step 1: Park your car on a flat surface and raise it with a floor jack. Secure the elevated car with jack stands to make sure it will not roll or lean.
Step 2: Go under the car and locate the damaged engine splash shield. Use a flashlight if it's too dark. With your screwdriver, remove the screws and clips that secure the shield and place them on a safe place. Take off the splash shield.
Step 3: This is a good time to inspect the engine components for any potential damage that may need immediate attention (broken cables, punctured parts, leaks, etc.). Also check the screws, clippings, and their mountings to see if they need replacement as well. Some car makes use unique screw designs so make sure you have the right ones for your splash shield.
Step 4: After taking care of the engine, install the new splash shield and secure it with the screws and clippings. Make sure that there are no gaps and loose parts.
Step 5: Lower the car and remove all stands to finish.
The whole process will take about 30 minutes.
- Work only when the engine is cool enough to avoid accidents due to high temperature.
- Use safety goggles to protect your eyes against any dirt and drippings from the engine.