Rock Protectors?

We just bought a Volkswagen “Suran” in Patagonia, Argentina. It is similar to the “Fox Plus”, and made here. We live out in the country, and have to drive over several miles of dirt roads to get to town. Our '96 Honda Civic didn’t have the ground clearance needed to avoid the flying rocks.

Now, my Spanish is a work in progress, but I believe I have this straight. A friend told us there is some kind of shield that can be put over the muffler and exhaust system to protect it from the rocks. He said he had one on his Chevy van. I am concerned about this; won’t something like that cause a lot of heat to build up? Are they safe? Is there such a thing? The salesman at the dealership said we could do this, but I don’t know. Is there something I’m missing?

Thank you for any advise!!

It’s far cheaper to have the proper vehicle that was designed to perform a certain task than it is to adapt a vehicle that was never designed to perform that task.


These are basic plates of steel. People bolt them on as rock guards to protect parts of the car from scrapeing over rocks in rutted roads. Use common sense. The oil pans of the engine and transmission are serious targets. The tail pipe and muffler may also be tough to replace. Usually the pipes are easy to fix with a welder but the muffler and catalytic are hard to find locally. If the local people seem to have lots of parts then dont worry. I suspect that for your car parts are not so easy to get so protect them. I would suggest getting a car that lots of locals have then fixing it up to your needs. Scrap parts are easy to get new ones dear and not timely.

Thank you both for such quick responses!!

So, I still wonder, don’t plates of steel build up heat, especially when they are covering exhaust systems? I am trying to use common sense, that is why I am asking questions before plowing into this. I have replaced every piece of the exhaust system at least once on the Honda and had it welded until there was nothing left to weld. “Tio Mauricio” at the garage and I have become fast friends.

This car should work for what we need it for, as it has a pretty high clearance, it is pretty perky on the hills and the four wheel drive that we wanted was DOUBLE the price! The “Suran” is made in Argentina, so parts should not be a problem . . . I hope anyway!

Lots of folks here who spent years driving on 3/4" minus gravel. If that’s what it is then yes you will hear a continual hitting sound, but it never required any special protectors for us. If it’s high center hitting, then slow down until you get the hang of avoiding high center. Better yet, get someone to translate and talk to the locals who have spent their whole life driving the same roads. After about three visits you will have a clearer picture of what to do or not do. Start worrying about how you’re going to get through mud stretches in low spots.

You might have a heat problem if you encase it totally, but not if you put the plates in strategic locations to protect the most vulnerable areas. Air will continue to circulate, keeping things relatively cool.

Just out of curiosity, where in Patagonia are you? I spent a fair amount of time in Neuquen…nice place!

Thank you! That is what I wanted to know. Only put the metal in certain areas. That makes sense.

We have moved to and live outside of El Bolson about 15 months ago. It’s beautiful here, clean, peaceful and we are having a lot of fun with our new lives out on our farm. Neuquen is much hotter and bigger that our little El Bolson!

Again, thank you for the advise. My next hurdle is to make sure installing it doesn’t void any of the warranty.