Le Mans: Prototype Class
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Downers Grove, IL
Re: plastic undercarriage...how necessary is it exactly?
"Rocks getting inside to your engine" Seriously?
I disagree with the above posters. I've had my car since early 2004 bought new. The shield was on till early 2009. Was my shield beat up? Uhm no, it was dirty of course, but it's not like it had scrapes and gouges on it. As with everyone else, the screws were all rusted and it became pretty much impossible to take it off without tons of aggravation and work. Rather than pay several hundred dollars for a replacement I decided to take it off and make my own judgment.
If you search these forums, you will see internet scholars who will tell you the horror stories of running without a shield. First I was told my mileage would suffer greatly and the car would be unstable at highway speeds, since the shield is for aerodynamic purposes. My car MPG is unchanged, as is my handling characteristics.
Second I was told rocks or other things on the road would harm my engine, or other parts underneath the car. I do all my own maintenance which has included belts, motor mounts, oil changes, etc all underneath the car. There is no such damage in 2 years.
Lastly, they'll tell you it helps with rust prevention, since salt won't enter the engine bay, which is again not accurate. In 08' with my shield being on 100%, plenty of my components have rusted over completely. Even with a shield, my engine in Chicago winters was always coated in salt. The metal brackets of my hoses are completely rusted over, again this is with the shield on all the time before 2009. If you live in a winter state and you think that shield is protecting against rust you are just flat wrong, coming from a 7-winter owner of this car. This particular car rusts, and badly. You can see the threads from the guy's in Canada who have rust eating through the car.
I run stock, so I don't worry about the water issue with my air filter. I've been through pretty bad rainstorms and checked the belts right after my trip. A possible concern of course is having water get on your belts while driving, since the belts go down near the bottom of the engine. I've never seen a drop of moisture on the belts with the shield off. If I ran a CAI I would certainly run with a shield, hydro-locking is always a concern with those.
So my opinion for Meeno or anyone else with this question, is to run it without and check YOUR results, not what someone on here TELLS YOU might happen or will happen. My MPG and handling are the same, I've experienced no damage to my engine compartment -- my shield when taken off had no damage at all, leading me to believe it's not saving me from great danger. Will having the shield off expose your engine to salt? Sure, but this shield is not going to be a cure-all. I have terrible rust after 4 winters with it on all the time.
The big benefit which I haven't mentioned is doing maintenance such as oil, coolant, power steering, etc right away without fighting with the shroud. I find it silly that it takes 20 minutes to change your oil, but (in my experiences) an hour to try to get the shroud off without stripping the bolts or breaking the plastic. I for one am very happy I decided to run without it, as it has been much easier to do my work on it and I have had no side effects to having it off.
2004 Sunlight Silver 3i