These days the Handy Millennial gets really excited when something breaks in his life. Why? Well because it gives him the opportunity to show you guys yet another every day repair!
Story time! So a couple weeks ago Millennial Rosie (yes she is a real person) and the Handy Millennial were driving on the highway when a sudden noise appeared! The noise wasn’t too loud, it just sounded like a sudden blast of air was coming through a small hole somewhere. In fact, Millennial Rosie even said that she though it was just a fan that became unplugged (not likely!). Anyway, upon pulling over, the Handy Millennial discovered that one of the splash shields under the car had come loose and was being pushed by the oncoming air into the asphalt. The splash shield was literally grinding itself down as we drove down the road!
After some crawling around on the side of the road we came up with the following high class/totally legit repair:
That absolutely needed to be fixed and hence, queue today’s post!
What is a splash shield and why should I care?
So first, what the heck is a splash shield and why should you care? Well my dear reader, a splash shield, is a black piece of plastic placed under your car by the handy manufacturer to frustrate your DIY home repairs :P. I’m kidding, but only half way! In fact, the splash shield actually has two very important functions – 1. keeping your engine by and various parts reasonably clean, and 2. improving your gas mileage by optimizing the air flow around the car.
Pretty neat right? Now the obvious questions is why would you want to keep your car clean? Doesn’t it just get dirty on the road? Well yes, this is in fact true. However, some dirt is worse than others. For example, salt getting in and around your car will lead to corrosion and really expensive repairs because of bolts like this:
Naturally, you should DIY those to build some character. So to try to prevent things like this we have splash shields. And it helps to make sure yours are in tact.
Where do I get one for my car?
Now before you see how to replace a splash shield, you should probably know how to purchase one. The first step when you find out any part on your car is broken or needs to be replaced is to google what you know about the part. Here are the general steps on how to google:
- Google what you know. Aim to determine the true name of the part.
- Once you know the name of the part go to eBay and search for OEM + part name. The OEM part here is important, it helps you to find genuine parts because there are lots of fakes.
- Now the eBay listing should also include the manufacturer number. Compare that with a number you found on the actual part (or in a repair manual) to double check that you indeed have the correct part number.
Why eBay? Good question! It turns out that lots dealers offload their extra inventory on eBay. Its pretty standard to get some large percentage off the list price (ex. 40 -50% just for shopping from eBay). And it turns out the parts are real! Check out what I got in the mail.
Side note: If you car gets old enough you might actually experience the opposite effect: parts get more expensive online.
How to replace a splash shield
Now that we have acquired the part it’s time to put it on! Unfortunately before we begin we have to have the following disclaimer. The Handy Millennial is not responsible for any damage, injury, or loss (of life or property) resulting from you performing similar work on your own vehicle. The Handy Millennial is an enthusiast showing people a recent job performed and is in no way encouraging readers to perform their own repairs. All information is provided as is for entertainment purposes only.
OK now that we have ensured that we won’t be handing out any Darwin awards lets begin.
Step 1: Raise and support your car.
and to put wheel stops behind the car. Again, no Darwin Awards today.
Step 2: Look at the old shield and how its attached.
So we look at this shield and we see a number of plastic fasteners! This is a good time to count them and to take note of where they are.
Now plastic fasteners are both great (because they don’t corrode) and a pain (because they tend to break while you are removing them. But lets go through the ones I found one by one and see I took them off.
Remove the fasteners: Type 1: push pin.
The first kind of fastener to remove is the push pin. To remove this one simply slide a Flathead screwdriver under the head like so.
The head will pop out and you will feel when to stop pulling. Note! You will not be able to remove the whole pin here. Instead the whole fastener comes out; head and crown will come out together.
Remove the fasteners: Type 2: push pin again.
The second type of fastener is also a push pin, but looks slightly different. Here it is:
So naturally here we pry again with our screwdriver and then pull out the whole piece.
Remove the fasteners: Type 3: screw pin again.
Now this one I did not take a picture of while disassembling. Instead, here is a picture re-assembled.
Note that these fasteners are a bit like screws. To remove, simply unscrew (instead of prying) and then again pull the whole fixture off. Easy right?
Worry less, buy a replacement pack.
Now a big worry that people have when working these is that they tend to break. This throws your average person into a panic because well they imagine they cost $XXX at the dealer! Not to worry, it turns out that there are generic versions at your local auto parts store. If you break one, simply take it into the store and for a few bucks you’ll get a nice suitable replacement. 🙂 Yours truly broke quite a few going in – it’s my money or my time, and I’m not wasting time rescuing brittle plastic.
Step 3: Remove the old splash shield and compare it to the new one.
Now once you have all the fasteners out, remove the old splash shield and compare it what you got in the mail. Fingers crossed, it better look identical. Here is my comparison.
In this case the part number was written in size 300 font right on top. It was trivial to compare. You can also see in this picture where the old part was ground down on the highway.
Step 4: Take a break, look around.
Now its always a good policy to stop and look carefully at everything once you have it disassembled. Why? Well because for example, you might find this:
That’s right, sometime in the last 5 years nature had found its way conveniently into the sealed part of the car…. Now why is this bad? Well because this is how rusts starts and how you, my dear reader, end up needing a new car. So lets take a moment to clean this out.
Step 4: Install the new part.
Now this is the best part, we replace the splash shield remembering to install fastener in every location that we removed one. In fact, in my case, I saw a few empty holes. This likely indicates that someone disassembled this panel before and was careless putting it together. If this was a pre-purchase checkup, I would question disassembling this particular panel on such a young car. This could perhaps indicate that the car was in a serious accident and was hastily rebuilt.
Putting everything back together, this is how it looks:
Note how nice and new our splash shield looks. I can’t wait to look at it again in the spring after the road has a chance to work on it a bit.
So there you have it my dear reader! This is how you can replace a splash shield on your car. As a side note, this is also how many panels are fastened to your car. Realizing this may help you understand why seemingly small collisions result in such heavy rebuild projects and costs!