2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse • 4 cylinder FWD Automatic • 65,000 miles

While driving the other night I heard a dragging noise under the car (I suspected a muffler or exhaust pipe). Turns out, it was what I can only describe as a two-part pan-like piece of metal, which appears to encompass part of the exhaust system (looks like it may have been fastened together with 2 or 4 nuts/bolts). It was located in the frontal section of the car, approximately under where the front passenger/driver floormats would be. Can anyone tell me what this part is. Should it be replaced. Is it safe to drive the car without it being in place.
Note: there is no noticeable difference in the
sound of the exhaust system?
Sorry I can't offer any further info. Thanks for any anticipated help.
April 16, 2011.

It is a heat shield for the exhaust, probaly around the convertor, it is there for a reason, if you still have it, take it to an exhaust shop, they may be able to tack weld it back into place for a reasonable price, the car will be fine to drive untill you get that done.

Apr 16, 2011.
Sounds like a heat sheild. Ususally for CAT. But sometimes other resonators too. Probably not necessary to put back on immediately. I've left them off before. Actually took them off cause of buzzing rattles.

Apr 16, 2011.