Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flash Panzer Plated

I had an unexpected gift this past weekend.  My wife, Boo, took a brief trip to the OR coast with a girlfriend, so I had Saturday to myself.  It being NHL playoff season, I caught 4 games, of course, but I also finally addressed the old Jetta, Flash, with a long-awaited Panzer plate.  I'll give a run-down on that today.

Panzer Plate?
Evolution plate
So, what's a Panzer Plate?  In the early 2000's, VW engineered a very tall diesel engine to tuck under the bonnet of the Jetta IV, Passat and New Beetle.  I say "very tall", but its really relative to the available height between the underside of the bonnet and the ground.  From the factory, the underside of the engine was shielded from the ground by a thin sheet of padded plastic.  This kept dirt and small gravel from getting up under the hood and into the engine bay, but did little to protect the engine from rocks, manhole covers and any other kind of road-borne debris that we regularly encounter.  The most exposed part of the engine, down below the front beam, is the oil pan.  Many engines have given their lives to road hazards because the hazard popped a hole in the pan and all the oil ran out before the driver knew anything was wrong.  There are aftermarket oil pans to help address this, but they don't act like a skid-plate defraying the impact along.  They are designed as a hard-edge that is simply strong enough to take a frontal impact.  I'm not convinced they can withstand the same abuse that a skid-plate can.  If they did, off-roaders would do that instead of installing skid-plates.

Which One?
full metal jacket Panzer Plate
There are at least 2 skid plates available on the market, one from Evolution and one from DieselGeek.  I've heard there's a VW one made of steel, but I've never seen one.  I tried to find one via an on-line vendor, but it wasn't nearly as clear what I was looking for as, say, a rear tail light.  If VW makes one, why wasn't it part of the car in the first place?  Or, why wasn't it part of a recall once they realized it was necessary to save your engine?  Last, why are they so hard to find?  Sigh.  Anyway, I read a little about the Evolution, and it seemed as good as the Dieselgeek one except for issues stemming from the way the oil-drain hole was engineered.  There was some feedback about the support around that hole actually causing a puncture in the oil pan.  Yikes.  While that played in my mind, the need for the "full metal jacket" available from Dieselgeek was a real decider.  I had long lost the padded plastic shield and the side supports went with it.  All-in, I paid around $380.  That's painful, but killing the engine would have been 10x that cost.

It was so easy.  I read the printed instructions while watching hockey Friday night and they didn't make any sense.  Re-reading with a beer didn't help, so I just pulled out the parts and made sure I had everything in the parts list.  Check.  Saturday morning, with KBOO's bluegrass show playing in the background, I drove up on the ramps and took my college try.  Once you get under the car, the instructions make sense, everything is where they describe them to be, and it all fits right together.  Even the RivNut installations were easy.  It took me less than 3 hours to get the thin aluminum sides in, the front mounting posts in and the Panzer plate on.  Before KBOO switched over from bluegrass to the Grateful Dead & Friends show, I was done.  Shazam!

Unrelated, I drove the bus to work today.  So nice sitting behind his steering wheel :)
More next time-

No comments: