Does driving Jeep Patriot for a few days without skid plate hurt it?

Our stupid '07 Patriot lost the skid plate in the middle of our beach vacation. What would it hurt to drive the rest of the week without it?

The skid plate is a plastic cover hiding the bottom of the engine compartment. It is supposed to be held on by plastic snaps and metal screws. These are variously pulled out, missing, or have torn holes in the plastic. The skid plate, which we still have, is largely intact though it might need fender washers on some of the holes where they are torn if we were to replace it, and without buying more plastic snaps I am not sure we can get it back on. Using nuts and bolts seems difficult because the skid plate blocks access to one side of the hole when it’s on.

What is this thing supposed to do? If it is only to keep the engine cleaner and drier, I doubt driving a few days without it will make much difference. But if it does something more critical, like help establish the path that cooling air has to follow, then it seems dangerous to do without.

Web references explain that for a different model, the Jeep Wrangler, the skid plate helps hold up the transmission. But on this car I think it does nothing structural. For one thing, it folds easily in the hands. This model car is, I think, a Dodge Calibre with Jeep inspired styling on the upper body, and four wheel drive.


It’s meant to protect the underside of the vehicle during off-road use. If you kick up rocks or crawl over large boulders, the skid place will take the abuse, and get beat up instead of the much more expensive components underneath.

It also might improve the aerodynamics.

You’re using the wrong terminology. What you describe there is a splash shield, not a skid plate.

Splash shield - flimsy plastic attached under the engine, too flimsy to provide protection from anything more substantial than water and pea sized gravel.

Skidplate - robust metal shield designed to protect expensive/fragile/critical parts from stumps, rocks, etc.
Sounds like you lost a splash shield. No worries at all driving without it.

You’re right. At it’s called a “radiator support splash shield”. Although it doesn’t seem to support the radiator, it does seem to attach to a crossmember that does.

That crossmember is the radiator support, and the splash shield is so named because it attaches to same.

The splash shield is not a critical part, and yours is certainly not the only vehicle to be missing one. Nevertheless it is there for a reason, and there is some benefit to keeping water and gravel from being thrown into the underside of the engine. However, it can be very difficult to keep some splash shields in place if the mounting holes are broken out, and it may require a new one and new fasteners to reliably attach it. It’s arguable whether it does enough good to be worth the expense.

It might also help keep the engine a bit cooler by stopping the fan from pulling air from below the radiator instead of through its cooling fins.