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It won't hurt anything to leave it off, but you will increase underhood temps and heat soak the crap out of the intercooler. I left my heat shield off for a while. I have no ;measurable data, but it was easy to tell the heat difference when opening the hood.
 

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With the stock turbo it shouldn't be critical, but its a good idea to have one. Like zoinks says, it's a pretty easy job to trim the stocker; I used a band saw but tin snips will work too.

Any larger turbos, you definitely need a heat shield or a FMIC.
 
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