When you are driving your hot rod or motorcycle around town, your exhaust gets hot. Like REALLY hot - temperatures in an exhaust system can get up over 1000 degrees. These high temperatures will not only increase the temperature inside your car but can also impact the horsepower and overall performance of your vehicle.
Most cars and motorcycles will have some form of heat shield installed to protect components near the exhaust from heating up to dangerous levels. One of those components that needs to be protected in some vehicles is the gas tank. How do you protect the gas tank from all that heat? That’s right… a heat shield! For more info on gas tank heat shields and our recommendations on replacing them, read on.
What is a Gas Tank Heat Shield?
A gas tank heat shield is an extra layer of protection used to protect your fuel tank from the high temperatures of the exhaust. Heat shields for vehicles have several components. The most important is a reflective surface to redirect radiant heat. In aftermarket heat shields, this is typically aluminum. Some heat shields then have an insulating foam or PET backer. This insulation helps reduce heat transfer and pairs well with a reflective surface. The heat shield is designed to either be mechanically fastened or attached with a high heat adhesive. A quality heat shield withstands high temperatures, lasts a long time, and substantially reduces the amount of heat that passes through.
Do You Need a Gas Tank Heat Shield?
If your vehicle has a fuel tank heat shield, you shouldn’t drive it without one. The manufacturer put that gas tank heat shield on there for a reason. Your vehicle needs that added a layer of protection. When the exhaust or other hot components of your car heat up, your gas would be in danger of getting too hot. If this happens, don’t worry, your car isn’t going to explode. But it will not run as well, you’ll get worse gas mileage, and you will certainly encounter other issues you don’t want to pay for.
As long as the gas tank is 100% covered by the heat shield, it will be protected from anything hot around it.
Options to Purchase a replacement Gas Tank Heat Shield
Many cars will not have fuel tank heat shields. But if there was one already installed when you purchased the car, truck, or van, then it is absolutely something you should make sure stays in good shape. If a heat shield was incorporated in the car’s design, then there must be a heat source close enough to the tank that it needs protection.
We have two materials that are commonly used as replacement gas tank heat shields.
As we’ve covered… if the car was designed with a gas tank heat shield, you’ll want to keep that extra protection. Some parts of the vehicle (ie the exhaust) can become incredibly hot, and if those hot components are near the gas tank, you will want to replace missing, rusted, or decaying parts with something that will properly protect your gas tank.
We recommend either the Thermal Block heat shield or the Radiant Shield. Both products are durable, flexible, have high heat resistance ratings, and are backed with a high temperature peel and stick adhesive for easy application. The primary differences are that Radiant Shield is a bit more flexible, whereas the Thermal Block has an insulating layer behind its aluminum face for some extra heat protection. Both will work great to protect a gas tank, so go with whichever you prefer.
Watch below as Craig from Barefoot Forge install our Thermal Block on his Vanagon Syncro!
Make sure the heat shield covers the entire surface exposed to hot elements
When installing a gas tank heat shield, ensure that you fully cover the area of the tank facing the exhaust or other hot elements. If you’re not sure, replicate the coverage of the existing heat shield or just cover the entire gas tank. If there are any seams that need to be covered, you can also use our high temp insulation tape to protect those edges. Remove the paper backing of the Thermal Block or Radiant Shield, apply it to the, and just like that, your fuel tank will be protected!
If you are interested in learning on other similar heat shield topics, check out our guides on fixing a heat shield rattle, and cold air intake heat shields. For all your heat transfer or auto insulation problems, we got you covered here at Second Skin.