The chassis of a given vehicle provides a hard protective layer between the exterior and the interior. In case of an emergency, a good shell will keep you safe from injury. As is with many other design trade-offs, driving within such shell can have its downsides. We are talking about the excessive amounts of heat that such configuration generates for everyone inside the car. Especially here in Australia.
While it can seem counter-intuitive, adding another layer is the best way to solve the issue. It applies to many hot-spots in the car be they the result of external heat or of the work of essential parts in your vehicle. This approach to temperature regulation extends to sound dampening and other uses as well, some of which we will explore below.
Exhaust Heat Shield
These kinds of insulation interventions come in handy on vehicles with significant mileage. They also apply to vehicles that were modified for a purpose (old-timers). The group of vehicles which can be subjected to insulation upgrades is by no means limited to these two though. Some of you know first hand that the factory components fitted to keep the heat at bay can delaminate earlier than what you’d expect.
Regardless of the reason, when you do need to install a heat shield for exhaust, go for high-grade materials. Needle punched fibreglass with a polyester core is making the rounds and the one with a strong aluminium face is preferred by many blokes. This combination of materials has been lab-tested for exposure to high temperature (circa 240ºC) for 30 hours in an oven without suffering damage. It’s a long term solution and not a temporary fix. No wonder it’s used on production vehicles by reputable car manufacturers.
Installing it is also fairly easy. It has a pressure-sensitive adhesive which is simply peeled off a release liner. You need to apply it immediately and it will adhere to the surface.
You should tackle heat at the source. In terms of heat coming from the exhaust, there might be more than one spot on the floor of the car to check, although the muffler is the exhaust part you want to look out for. The best location for such heat shield is at the undercarriage. Once it conducts heat through the floor pan, you need to protect the interior. Don’t let the label mislead you – you can a use heat shield for exhaust to cover fuel tanks, under bonnet, inner guards, batteries, tunnel shields, fluid lines, rubber mounts, etc. They are easy to form into place and are very effective in tight spots.
Sound Dampening Carpet
Heat is most likely not the only issue you have in your car’s cabin. Sounds can be harrowing too, especially on long haul journeys where you hear nothing but the drone of the engine or the exhaust. Luckily, a sound dampening carpet can suppress any noise coming from outside, even the one produced by the brakes system in your car. While heat can be localized and dealt with a cutout piece – sound can not. It’s simply all-pervasive and there isn’t any ‘hotspot’ you can tackle. Sound dampening layers have to be applied to an extensive area for you to feel any difference.
Acoustic liners come as a multi-layer cell foam. Traditional car underlays are no match for the acoustic insulation you’d get from such a material. And to get the most of it you need to apply it as abundantly as possible. This can’t be overstated.
Fortunately, the installation process is fairly easy. Similar to automotive heat shields, acoustic liners can be peeled off at the back and put into place right away. Since vehicles are full of curves and uneven surfaces, make sure you get a tape that is easy to trim with scissors or a sharp knife. Look for high-quality materials for sound dampening too, because you don’t want to do this often. You can find aftermarket sound dampening carpets online with outstanding properties – they don’t rot, they repel mould and take forever to deteriorate.
Canopy and Roof Insulation
The typical thing to do with a ute is to add a dual cabin canopy and roof rails on top. They are great for creating some extra space on your 4×4 truck, however, they also have some disadvantages. Once you start using the canopy, you’ll notice that the level of thermal, acoustic and dust-proof insulation you have in the passenger cabin can’t measure up with what you have under the canopy. It’s ok, proper compartments meant for transport of people have a ton of rubbers that snugly seal everything inside. You can do this to your canopy interior.
However, if you want to have the ultimate sound and heat shield, you’d have to go the extra mile and apply the whole layer of insulation track. If you don’t mind having the canopy as just another covered cargo area, then you can skip this step. Don’t forget though, if you need to put some of your blokes back there for a ride – those that remain back there will hear a loud noise, will either freeze or sweat profusely. It all comes down to what you want to do with your ute and what’s more important for you.