Heat Shield Rattle

Fixing that Annoying Heat Shield Rattle

Fixing that Annoying Heat Shield Rattle

Heat shields rattle because the welded sheet metal car manufacturers use can rust or come loose after years exposed to the elements and daily wear and tear. The result for you is an annoying heat shield rattle that drives you a little bit crazy every time you reach a certain RPM.

Thankfully, there are some tricks to make it a quick and inexpensive fix. Before getting started, there are a few things to know:

  • Heat shields are important. Don’t just rip off a rattling heat shield. Although you can technically still drive your car or truck without a heat shield, it’s a needed safety feature that was put on your car for a reason.
  • It’s easy to find the source of the problem. We’ll go into more detail on this in a moment, but for now, know that fixing your heat shield rattle isn’t a multi-day operation. You should be able to find the problem and fix it yourself.
  • Some cars are more prone to heat shield rattling. Not all manufacturers use the same materials or weld with the same processes. Although no car is immune to heat shield rattle, older cars and lower-end models are more likely to have this issue.

Heat shields rattle because the welded sheet metal car manufacturers use can rust or come loose after years exposed to the elements and daily wear and tear. The result for you is an annoying heat shield rattle that drives you a little bit crazy every time you reach a certain RPM.

Thankfully, there are some tricks to make it a quick and inexpensive fix. Before getting started, there are a few things to know:

  • Heat shields are important. Don’t just rip off a rattling heat shield. Although you can technically still drive your car or truck without a heat shield, it’s a needed safety feature that was put on your car for a reason.
  • It’s easy to find the source of the problem. We’ll go into more detail on this in a moment, but for now, know that fixing your heat shield rattle isn’t a multi-day operation. You should be able to find the problem and fix it yourself.
  • Some cars are more prone to heat shield rattling. Not all manufacturers use the same materials or weld with the same processes. Although no car is immune to heat shield rattle, older cars and lower-end models are more likely to have this issue.
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How to Identify Heat Shield Rattle

If you’re hearing a persistent, metallic rattle coming from your car or truck (especially when idling), there’s a good chance you have a loose or broken heat shield. Although there are a million places to look for a rattle on an older car, the heat shield on your car’s exhaust system is a good first place to look. Since it’s pretty quick to find and check under the vehicle, start there before getting into finding a rattle somewhere else.

Step-By-Step to Identify a Loose Heat Shield

  1. Wait until the car cools off (you don’t want to be touching the exhaust while it’s still hot).
  2. Jack the car up and slide yourself beneath the exhaust components.
  3. Push the palm of your hand against the catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, and other exhaust components.
  4. Try to get a feel for any loose elements. If nothing feels drastically loose, try knocking against them with your fist.
  5. Listen for a distinct metallic rattle (it should sound similar to what you’re hearing while driving).
  6. Once you find the loose component, note its size. A loose section of narrow pipe requires a different solution than an entire loose catalytic converter shield.

That’s it. You found your loose heat shield! If you find that no components of your car’s exhaust are loose, you might have a different issue on your hands.

Eric The Car Guy Does a Good Job Summarizing The Issue

Sometimes it's easier just to watch a video. We're with you. We're long-time fans of Eric the Car Guy, and he does a great job getting to the heart of the issue in this short video.

How to Fix Heat Shield Rattle

Option 1: Remove the Heat Shield Completely (Not Recommended)

Some vehicle owners are inclined to just throw away a heat shield once it gets loose or cracked. Although this technically may stop the rattle, we do not recommend this solution. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported 100 wildfires caused by vehicles in 2015 alone. Hot catalytic converters are the biggest culprit. When you park your car on grass, hot exhaust elements can cause fires. Heat shields help prevent those accidents from happening. Additionally, you’ve got to protect your vehicle’s underbody components. Heat shields protect in both directions.

Option 2: Replace the Heat Shield

Another option you have is to completely replace your heat shields. This is doable, but can be tricky if you haven’t done it before. You’ll need to buy new heat shields ($40 or more per) and be prepared to remove the old parts and reinstall new ones. It’s just a couple bolts and some sheet metal, but can become a headache. If you take your car to the shop, the parts will be closer to $150 and it should take about an hour of labor. The total bill should be about $300.

exhaust heat shield

Option 3: Use Hose Clamps

The simplest and least expensive solution is using stainless steel hose clamps to tighten any loose exhaust components. The hose clamp solution is pretty easy once you’ve identified the part that’s rattling. Simply open your steel hose clamp and wrap it completely around the heat shields surrounding your loose component, sandwiching it inside. Tighten the clamp until the component is locked in place. If the loose part is too wide for one hose clamp, use two. Simply thread one hose clamp into the other to make one large clamp. Folks often have to use two clamps when wrapping a catalytic converter. You can buy a ten pack of 3” hose clamps for around $10 — not bad at all considering how annoying that rattle can be.

 

Whatever you decide to do with your heat shields, at least you have options, and none of them are all that expensive. It's rare that there's such a cheap and effective solution, so take advantage!

Fixed the Rattle, But Still Having Heat Shield Issues?

It’s common for car owners with rusted out heat shields to fix the rattle but still experience heat transfer in the car. If the noise is gone, but you’re getting an uncomfortable amount of heat around your feet, you need some thermal insulation to fix that. It’s entirely possible to light the carpets of your car on fire. Seriously.

The easiest solution is to add additional heat shielding on the underside of your vehicle. Instead of replacing heat shields with brand new parts, consider using our preferred spot-fix heat shield, Thermal Block.

  • Thermal Block is our peel-and-stick foil radiant heat shield that’s perfect for keeping the heat out of where it’s not wanted.
  • At only ⅛” thick, it adds little-to-no weight and withstands up to 800°F.
  • Install it with the aluminum side facing the heat source (2” air gap) to reflect 98% of radiant heat.
  • The results are pretty awesome. You’ll drop the temperature of the metal on the cabin side by 150 to 200°F.

Learn More with Our Ultimate Car Insulation Guide