Dave Schoener works on Chevy Cruze

Chevy Cruze splash shield protects engine and improves mileage

Chevrolet Cruze only car in its class to come with an underbody splash shield to prevent corrosion and improve fuel economy

Higher-end vehicles often come equipped with splash shields, whether they’re generator splash shields, engine splash shields, radiator splash shields, fender splash shields, front panel splash shields, or all of the above. They’re designed to protect the vehicle’s components from water and debris thrown up by the wheels. Some people think they add style, though unless you’re being run over by the car at the time, would you even notice? You don’t normally find them on a compact car though. Until now.

Thanks to GM splash test engineer Dave Schoener, the Chevy Cruze now comes with an underbody splash shield to protect its engine. He’d been watching splash tests of the Cruze at GM’s Flooded Road Lab in Milford, Michigan, one of GM’s facilities to see how its vehicles hold up under abuse. The splash test involved driving the Cruze at various speeds through a road covered with two to 12 inches of water to see how it stood up and test solutions for keeping water, salt and grit out of the engine compartment and the transmission. Sounds like a good idea, especially for a car that’s sold in places that have to deal with winter.

Schoener compared GM’s testing to an athlete’s preparations for a marathon. "Just as I train to build endurance before each race, achieving long-term vehicle durability comes from putting the Cruze through its paces here at the Proving Ground. We do intense durability testing to ensure our customers get top-quality vehicles they will enjoy for many years."

Schoener’s solution to the durability problem posed by water and slush was to provide the Chevrolet Cruze with a splash shield. "With the Cruze, you have a very comprehensive splash protector on an entry sedan that you typically wouldn't see except in high-end luxury vehicles," said Schoener. Not only does the splash shield protect the underbody of the car from corrosion, it also reduces wind drag, contributing to the Cruze’s good mileage (the Cruze Eco has an EPA-estimate of 42 mpg on the highway). Nice bonus.

With everyone concerned about fuel economy, perhaps GM’s engineers will start installing splash shields on all their vehicles. In the meantime, those of us who don’t own a luxury sedan or a Chevrolet Cruze don’t have to do without that extra layer of protection for our own car’s underbelly. Many car manufacturers and after-market suppliers sell splash shields that can be installed on the vehicles we already own.

Other articles about the Chevy Cruze:

The 2013 diesel powered Chevy Cruze will be built in Lordstown, Ohio
Chevrolet Previews 2012 Sonic and Cruze Models Heading to 2011 SEMA Show

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Ironically, Chevrolet's recall on the pre-2013 Cruze has all but eliminated all of the benefits of this splash shield. The recall demanded the dealerships destroy these shields rather than replace them with the new part number that also fits the 2013 model and maintains the integrity of the intent of the splash shield. Many Cruze owners just complied with the recall and don't care or even understand the advantages that they threw away at gun point, so to speak. After all, if a safety recall is not performed and the car suffers the fate of the recall's protection, the insurer can deny the claim. If General Motors had replaced the part in question instead of butchering it into uselessness, I don't think anyone would have a complaint.