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Is the plastic engine cover really needed?

While doing some repairs, I lost one of the screws that holds the plastic engine cover on my Honda Pilot. It costs about $10 to buy a new screw. If the engine cover serves no real purpose aside from having the Honda name on the top of the engine, why should’t I just leave it off? I could save $10, and may improve the cooling of my engine (every so slightly.)


I would install the cover. When you start leaving things off that were designed by engineers…you will have a “rat rod” before too long. In addition to that…when you go to sell your vehicle…some people, like me, will deduct value because of missing pieces. It’s just not a smart thing to do.

If the cover were left off and discarded at a shop after being repaired would you complain, @Sutherfam? And if they blew off your complaint with the excuse that the cover had no purpose would that satisfy you?

While the plastic shield over engines is certainly an effort to have a finished appearence many catch spilled oil, etc., protecting ignition coils, sensors, etc. And the absence of such pieces leads me to wonder what else was overlooked.

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I had a similar problem with the cover under the engine of my VW. Just to get the oil changed required the removal of a bunch of screws (several different sizes) and the cardboard/plastic cover, then it’s replacement after the oil change.

I twice had to have it replaced after it got damaged, probably because all the screws were not replaced after an oil change… Driving along at 70 MPH and hear a strange dragging sound from the cover hitting the ground.

But,to the point, I did find out most repair places have a small stock of the required strange screws from when someone had a damaged cover totally removed (which most repair places recommend).

I can’t speak for all cars but on mine, in addition to looking purdy they act like splash guards for the wiring and I believe anchor the air cleaner. I would not be too surprised if they aided in being a heat shield protecting owners while checking fluids without the car being cooled off . The four cylinder motor is very small on top and has none and is inconsequential while the six with it’s wide heat producing top is all covered…I get it.

Additionally, the engine cover helps to reduce engine noise that intrudes into the cabin.

+1. I think the primary reason for the engine cover is to reduce engine noise.

I too agree with VDC. If you look on the back of the cover, you’ll likely find a sprayed on noise insulation. Keeps the valvetrain noise from being noticeable.

The covers also protect the COP components, but I don’t think that’s their primary purpose.

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My Rav4, the engine cover gets in the way of adding oil. But, it pops off of 3 ball-end posts pretty easily. My Explorer engine cover has 4 screws holding it down. I lost 2 of them doing a throttle body cleaning, but grabbed 4 screws on a trip to the salvage yard, so now I have 2 spares.

Yow! Screws? My GM Vehicles (Several of Them) Have Engine Covers That Remove In Seconds With No Tools Required. If The Vehicles Can Be Made With Easy To Service Parts Or Difficult To Service Parts, Why The $#@^ Would The Designers/Engineers Opt For The Latter?

I don’t know if I’m The Lone Ranger, here, but since I’m the guy doing about 95% of all maintenance and repairs on our family vehicles, I carefully consider ease of basic vehicle service before I purchase. I won’t buy a car that some jackaxxes designed in hard to access filters, drains, fillers, engine shields, etcetera.

Sellers will see me on the ground (pretty flexible for an old fart) and poking around the engine compartment. I vote with my wallet and walk away if need be.

Too late on this vehicle, but something to consider for future.

That’s just Common Sense !


To be fair, the Rav4 engine cover is over the valve cover, COPs, and some of the intake (I4). The Explorer (V6) engine cover is over the throttle body and intake only. I only needed to remove it to get to the throttle body or intake manifold, three times in 10 years.

Leave it off…not a problem.

They’re called engine appearance covers.

They’re called that because they’re just there for appearance.


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I just live with it. On my Acura, they have covers not only on the engine but the front and both sides of the engine compartment. You have to take the covers off to even check the brake fluid. Its a good time to clean them up anyway when you take them off.

@ Tester:
“They’re called engine appearance covers.”

My GM manual referred to a “Sight Shield” and I had no idea what the $#@* they were talking about. It darn near drove me nuts trying to figure it out.

Now, I Armor-All my sight shield. Feel the magic! Makes up for my not buying a newer car. (It doesn’t take much to amuse some people.)


Toyota calls mine a “cover sub-assembly, engine, #1”.
But, since it has a sprayed on coating under it that appears to be a sound absorber, I still suspect that one of its primary functions is to dampen valvetrain noise.

There is a foam layer that appears would dampen/reduce noise. Makes sense. Thanks!

The $10.00 price, is that for a replacement screw from Honda? You might be able to find something that will work from a hardware store, it does not need to match exactly just serve the purpose.

I have always been of the opinion car makers do not waste money on unnecessary parts. I would put it back to oem if it was my car.

Just for a missing screw, visit a junkyard. If you’re nice, they might give it to you for free.