I have always thought of the heat shield to be a marketing ploy. So after it fell off, I wasn’t bothered until it was too late.
I encountered a number of problems while driving my car without the shield. All those issues forced me to use the item again.
When catalytic converter shields fall off, your car is going to overheat. If that weren’t enough, there would be vibrations and even rattling noise due to the lack of a heat shield.
In the article, I will go over how the heat shield works and why you should use one. I will also elaborate on what might happen if you do not use a shield.
What Is a Heat Shield Around Catalytic Converter?
You are probably aware of the fact that catalytic converters can produce heat. Sometimes the heat is so intense that it affects the surrounding areas or even causes accidents.
A heat shield usually consists of an insulated metal panel that prevents heat from spreading. This protects the surrounding components, including the transmission, from the heat.
Another advantage of heat shields is their ability to maintain lower interior temperatures.
Is Heat Shield Necessary on Catalytic Converter?
The heat shield is an absolute necessity when your vehicle is equipped with a catalytic converter. Below I will outline five reasons why I consider heat shields to be essential.
1. Fewer Emissions
Most people are unaware that heat shields can reduce emissions.
One of the main purposes of the cover is to keep pollutants out of the cat. Even debris is unable to get inside when your converter has a shield protecting it.
As there are fewer pollutants, emissions will decrease significantly.
2. Stable Temperature
As I mentioned earlier, a heat shield is instrumental in lowering the internal temperature. This way, both the converter and the components around it remain cool.
3. Clean Catalytic Converter
Previously, I discussed how the shield protects the catalytic converter from pollutants and debris. Well, it also keeps moisture and contaminants out. This leads to a clean cat with a high level of efficiency.
4. Prevents Clogging
While driving, your car travels on a variety of roads. It will not be uncommon for particles to enter the vehicle at some point. Any object that should not be near the converter can affect its operation.
Thankfully, a heat shield blocks such objects from entering, thus preventing your cat from becoming clogged.
5. Prevents Theft
Catalytic converters are pretty expensive. If a thief comes across your car, he will likely target the cat.
Given that the shield is in place, thieves will have a hard time removing it. Chances are, you or someone else will catch the thief on the spot.
Top Picks for Heat Shields
Want to enjoy the perks listed above? A high-quality product will provide you with all of the benefits mentioned above. Here are two of the finest heat shields I found.
1. Thermo-Tec Aluminized Heat Barrier
What attracted me to choose the Thermo-Tec shield was its highly heat-resistant properties. It is capable of withstanding temperatures over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is insanely good.
2. Design Engineering Catalytic Converter Heat Shield
Probably the most appealing feature of this product is that it has a universal fit. No matter what car model you have, the shield will fit perfectly.
It also includes installation tools and instructions. Therefore, the item is easy to install.
Catalytic Converter Heat Shield Replacement Cost
If your heat shield gets damaged, you should replace it as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to ruin your catalytic converter.
The cat heat shield replacement cost varies depending on your vehicle, the quality of the heat shield, and the mechanic who installs it.
I estimate that in most cases, you will have to spend around $100 to $300 to replace a catalytic converter heat shield. However, if you opt for a high-end premium product, the cost could be as high as $600+.
The entire replacement process will take no more than one hour.
How Long Can You Drive Without A Heat Shield?
As long as you drive in a casual manner and do not exceed four miles a day, you will be fine without a heat shield. However, if you drive a lot and go over the four-mile limit on a daily basis, there will be problems.
Here are some of them.
The high temperature is definitely the first issue.
When the shield is not there, the cat becomes extremely hot. This heat will soon spread throughout the car. Hence, without a heat shield, a car is more likely to heat up.
Driving will be difficult without a shield because of vibrations as well. Yes, strangely enough, if no heat shield exists, your automobile may produce awful vibrations.
3. Rattling Noise
Last but not least, the absence of heat shields sometimes causes an irritating rattling sound. I wasn’t able to stand the noise, and I’m sure you can’t either. Thus, I prefer a shielded catalytic converter.
All of the above issues can also occur due to malfunctions in other components. Whenever you experience any of these problems, take your vehicle to a mechanic for a diagnosis.
Related: How To Pass Inspection With Bad Catalytic Converter?
Can I Remove Catalytic Converter Heat Shield?
There is no rocket science involved in removing the cat heat shield. Sure, if you are familiar with the process, feel free to do so.
Having said that, do not attempt to remove the shield if you have never done it before. Remember that it covers the cat directly. If you remove it incorrectly, you may damage the converter as well.
Rather than risk it, have a reputable auto shop remove the heat shield for you.
Do I Need My Catalytic Converter Heat Shield?
Although heat shields are not a must for every car, I advise you to get one anyway.
The converter won’t be able to maintain a healthy temperature without the shield. Moreover, you can find plenty of decent heat shields for a reasonable price.
If you still decide against installing a heat shield, make sure you regularly check the catalytic converter.
To Sum Up
The heat shield falling off is never a good sign. In that case, you should install this cover once again for safety’s sake.
An unprotected catalytic converter will overheat and damage itself. At worst, the heat may radiate all over the vehicle and cause it to catch fire.
Liked the article? Check out another one that discusses how high-flow cats increase sound.