oil filter guard?

Hi all
On the XG350 (and Sonata I suspect) there is a small plastic (maybe 6" x 6") guard that must be removed from under the car before the oil filter can be
replaced. I assume this is for protection against rocks being thrown up while driving, but that is only a guess. On my sister-in-laws car that piece is missing. Undoubtedly a fast oil change place took it off and forgot / didn't bother to put it back on (just another reason to do your own oil changes). Does this piece need to be replaced?
Thanks
Dan
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I think it has more to do with under vehicle aerodynamics and keeping water away from the belts. I've seen numerous cars without them and have never heard of an issue.
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