Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

2016 Honda HR-V - Belly Panel

Is it really necessary to have the panel that is under the engine compartment installed? It would simply the oil changing if it were not attached due to the taking off/reattaching (involves screws and some plastic clips… the clips break). Does the panel perform any useful function and can I safely drive the car if were not attached?

It’s there to protect your engine from possible road debris

It is also there to make the car more aerodynamic for better mileage.

Seems real unlikely you’d ever miss the thing, especially since so many cars don’t even have them.

1 Like

It’s also part of the designed airflow for proper cooling. Does it perform a useful function? Do you think they would have it in there if it didn’t?


It’s there for aerodynamics.

Without it, you might see a slight reduction in fuel mileage. Depending on the speed.


1 Like

All the above reasons. And it may keep water from splashing up on the engine and drivebelts - water that could make belts slip, power steering not work momentarily. etc.

1 Like

Why not? They put plenty of other crap on/in cars not is not needed. Heated/cooled seats? Heated steering wheel? Infotainment systems? Power everything wether you want it or not? And a whole host of other things you might not need or want but it there anyways.

Do you see the significant difference between all the equipment you listed and a belly pan? In case not, all of those things people directly interface with and are considered creature comforts. Most people can see those things and want them. Most of them can be omitted if you were really adamant about it. See if a belly pan appears anywhere on an options list…


Not on an option list but I believe an argument can be made as to a belly pans necessity. But as with everything else just this guys opinion.

Let’s hear it. I’d like to know what you’re basing that opinion on. I hope it’s not along the lines of- we never needed them before so not needed now…

There’s no value to adding such a thing to sell the car to a would be buyer. They don’t see the belly pan. It doesn’t enrich their experience with the car. Even if you cast aside the engineering explanations for what purpose they provide, you’re left with the financial reasoning. They wouldn’t add such a part that doesn’t help sell the car and only increases their costs- unless it was needed for some technical purpose…

1 Like

My CR-V does not have a belly pan… I just drove it from Maryland to California through rain and hail… no problem… wide tires and front wheel drive… not sure why I need a belly pan.

I’ve been tempted at times to remove that part on my Corolla, but when looking under there it seems like it might be doing a pretty good job at protecting the radiator and the crankshaft/water pump/alternator pulleys from getting smacked by rocks kicked up from the road.

I believe the value is slightly better EPA test mileage. Just like the move to 0w20 oil.

I’ll second this. @PvtPublic I’d love to see your opinion on a belly pan’s necessity the first time you run over tire debris without one and you get a bill for $300 to replace a damaged oxygen sensor wiring harness.

OP: Generally speaking (since you didn’t post a make/model of car), if you find yourself having to remove the entire belly pan to change your oil, you’re doing it wrong. Most cars will include some kind of access hatch for the filter; at worst, you may to remove a few screws or bolts…you shouldn’t have to take the entire thing off.

i looked at a not new car at major chev dealer showroom in my town that was missing the engine cover. i think it was <1yr old but come on man. put the cover back on the motor

Everybody has beliefs but most are not based on any actual data. I don’t have any actual design information either for this particular application. But we do a lot of thermal analysis on the products we design and in those, there are definitely parts designed or added to direct airflow to keep things cool. Now look at your engine compartment. It’s stuffed compared to the “old” days. There are thermal regulators (heat exchangers) located up front with metal or plastic air deflectors and so on to ensure air flows by these elements. No doubt the belly pan provides smoother air flow for the underside of the chassis. But, are you so sure that the purpose does not include air flow management around the engine and transmission? Are you willing to remove the belly pan and find out later your transmission fluid is getting hotter than designed and degrading it faster than intended? I can tell you I’ve met quite a few people that tore the air deflectors off their cars because they scraped the ground when entering driveways or hitting curb stops thinking they were just a nuisance and later found out something different. They were also convinced they served no real purpose but had no scientific reasoning to back it up. Vehicles are designed and built to serve the worst case usage scenario. Person A that uses the vehicle in a way that does not stress it is as much as Person B can remove lots of parts and proclaim they saw no ill effect and therefore those parts are useless. Then Person B comes along, uses the vehicle in a way or environment that creates sufficient stress and experiences an adverse effect from the same modification. The original question was- Is it really necessary to have the panel that is under the engine compartment installed? No one here can say with any authority because we do not have the scientific basis for making such a proclamation. A number of potential reasons to consider were pointed out. I simply added one that people may not have considered. One that, based on my experience, has a reasonable chance of being significant under the right circumstances. In the absence of any real design information, the safe answer is to leave it there. YMMV.


The OPs car make and model is in the title.

My Mustang and Audi A4 both have belly pans and neither has a drain door. 4 bolts for the Mustang and 6 quarter turn fasteners for the Audi. Some do have a drain door but many do not.


Ok. Seems to me in some circumstances, the airflow to the engine and trans (and away from them) is less with the belly pan than without it. Especially in stop and go traffic. The pan will hold more heat than it can direct away when idling. No? Am I willing to drive without a belly pan? Sure. And the deflector in front being torn off? Sure, I’ve driven plenty of trucks with the deflector missing. Do I have actual data or discussion from the design engineers stating that the only benefit to deflectors and belly pans is improved aerodynamics (and some protection from road debris)? No, I do not.

So, since I do not have a case study on belly pans in modern autos in front of me, leave the pan if you fear vehicle damage. I believe you’re overthinking it a bit, which is no doubt better than underthinking it. Personally, if the belly pan were to come off of my wife’s Highlander, I wouldn’t pay to replace it. I haven’t removed it simply because it’s there…and I like the things that came on the car to remain there. But removing it wouldn’t cause me any concern over the longevity of the vehicle. If you feel otherwise, do otherwise. I have no issue with that.