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What Is the Purpose of a Heat Shield on a Car?

by Scott T. Harrell

The purpose of any car's heat shield is to do exactly what its name implies--to shield various parts of the car, the driver and the immediate environment from the heat generated by certain automotive systems.

Location

With regard to standard automobiles, the term "heat shield" generally refers to plates that insulate parts of the exhaust system, which steadily generates high temperatures when a car is running.

Composition

Regular automotive heat shields are made of metal; many feature fiberglass between metal sheets. On specialized or high-performance vehicles, shields may include carbon composite or other lightweight high-tech materials.

Function

Heat shields keep the exhaust system from heating up the floorboards and other adjacent car parts, and also protect tall grass or other flammable items that might come into contact with the underside of a vehicle from incendiary temperatures.

Other Automotive Heat Shields

Some cars may have additional heat shields to insulate other parts that generate inordinate heat, such as the radiator or a turbo system.

Theories/Speculation

Car enthusiasts go back and forth over whether or not heat shields are truly necessary, as they sometimes tend to rust, rattle, crack and come loose.

About the Author

Scott Harrell is an award-winning writer and cultural critic with more than 15 years' professional experience covering everything from music to politics. He studied creative writing, journalism and the humanities at University of South Florida, and his work has appeared in such publications as Creative Loafing, Radar, City Link, REAX Music Magazine and The Naughty American.

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Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Daniel Cooper