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Is the "oil pan shield" really necessary?

Hello. We have a 2010 Prius (purchased in Dec 2009). With all the snow in Chicago, my husband was driving thru an uncleared road–he said snow was only a few inches deep. Apparently this ripped off our “oil pan shield” and the new part costs $283 + 5 minutes labor. Is this shield necessary? Sounds like this happens frequently to Toyotas–seems like a design flaw. Do we need to replace it? Apparently it is not under warranty. Thanks!

Yes, it protects the equipment under the hood from spray, particularly important where they use salt, and where that equipment is complex and expensive, like your Prius. Get it replaced.

I hate to point out the obvious, but if it wasn’t for the oil pan shield, then your oil pan would have taken the damage instead of the shield. Having your oil pan torn off, and having snow and whatever else get into your running engine would have caused damage that would have cost A LOT MORE than $283.

So, what’s more important to you?
$283, or having the knowledge that this shield actually does protect the oil pan from potential damage?


My GOD thats expensive…look them up on ebay or other parts places…sounds like it may be a dealer only item tho…If you bought one you could easily put it on yourself.


A splash shield is important on any car, in order to protect wire connectors and electronic components from water damage. On a Prius, with its incredibly complex electronics, an intact splash shield is even more important.

Truthfully, the only flaw was probably in your husband’s decision to drive a car with only a few inches of ground clearance though unplowed snow.

Thanks for the feedback. In my husband’s defense, it was 2 days after our blizzard & he had no choice but to drive over the snow to get to work–the roads weren’t plowed. The dealer told us this is very common so it seems like Toyota would recognize there’s a problem & try to fix it. Such a small piece of plastic for $283…sounds like we’ll have to do it. Thanks again.

Replace it. In addition to the already mentioned good reasons, these splash shields can also affect airflow through the radiator and over the engine. And they can affect turbulance under the car, which can manifest itself as reduced highway mileage. My guess is that on the Prius this underbody turbulance is a consideration.

I’d do an internet search for an aftermarket part, however. You might be able to save big.

The aftermarket parts search is a very good idea. I’d also suggest that you check salvage yards for a used one. There obviously won’t be many 2010 Prius out there in salvage yards, but often the same basic part design will be used for years. It might be a long shot but if you come up with something you’d stand to save a bundle.

I don’t really see that the shield was a problem. It did it’s job. Plastic parts fly off/apart on impact basically being the part that’s sacrificed instead of more important parts. I’d do like Cigroller suggested and visit for a used one. If I didn’t work on cars for a living, since it’s only a 5 minute job and it’s underneath I’d pay someone else to do it.

Since you are from Chicago surely you could find a way to “jury rig” some other type of shield, one that does not look the same but serves the same purpose

Ok, I agree the shield did it’s job & probably protected the oil pan. I’m just bitter because I know my 15 yr old Escort & 14 yr old Accord would not have had a problem clearing a few inches of snow. I guess the Prius is designed more low to the ground (but still, a $283 piece of plastic?!)

Anyway, thanks to everyone’s advice, we see the need to replace it & we were going to look for an aftermarket part. My husband is MacGyver-ish so he was also going to see if he could rig it somehow. I went to grab our damaged part so we could shop around with an example/product #, but the dealer did not return the shield to us!!! So we drove all the way back up there to collect it (after calling in advance), and they could not find it!!! They are installing a new shield for us (free) and I am once more at peace with Toyota. And the Prius will never see another snow day.

Well, the Prius is designed to get maximum mpgs, and one common addition is a very low front end.

NO. it is Not necessary. However it is a good idea. If your crafty you can probably find a used on for well under $100 and put it on yourself with the 2-4 bolts that probably hold it on. Any average joe should be able to replace it

It certainly does sound like Toyota made a design error if the oil pan shield gets ripped off in a few inches of snow in Chicago. Some might call this an engineering compromise that went a little too far; kinder words for Toyota worshipers.

Wellll, hubby said ‘a few inches of snow’…not that he would say anything than the 100% truth, of course…

283 dollars is not that expensive from Toyota. They wanted to charge me $80 each for 4 plastic center hubcaps for my 4runner. I think that’s $320 for 4 pieces of plastic. It’s a great deal, from them.
Toyota makes an unbelievable profit on the unsuspecting. That 's why it pays to use your truck on snowy days.

In addition to “a few inches of snow” being subject to both interpretation and minimization in the retelling, I think that one has to consider the amount of ground clearance that this car has. Most likely, it has ~5 inches of ground clearance–at best. Any more than 5 inches of snow is going to cause problems with plastic parts that are designed to be removed easily when servicing the car.

If the OP wants to be able to drive in unplowed snow, a sedan–especially one that is designed for maximum fuel economy–is not ideal. My recollection is that the 2010/11 Outback has the highest ground clearance of any passenger vehicle sold in the US, and that is 8.7 inches. Based on that number, I really doubt if the Prius has more than 5 inches of ground clearance–and therein lies the problem for someone who decides to drive in unplowed snow.

In defense of Toyota’s plastic engine shield design…going backwards over hardened snow would turn the shield into a snow shovel and therefore under the strain could easily break…

Well, yes the hubby did get a mild interrogation about why he chose to drive thru the snow. Sounds like he was exiting a restaurant parking lot and had to drive thru a short alley to get to the street. Sounds like other cars had exited this way before so there were established tire tracks in the snow, but there’s always that taller hump of snow that goes underneath the car (which wasn’t patted down “enough” by the other cars), and that’s what tore the cover off. The dealer said it happens frequently and I got the impression it wasn’t just Prius.

It is likely to happen with any car that has less-than-average ground clearance, and that includes the Prius. This is a good illustration of the reality that following established tire tracks does not necessarily mean that the way is clear for your car. The preceding vehicles may likely have had more ground clearance.