Rodents Damage Cars By Chewing Electrical Connections: Tips On How To Avoid Costly Repairs

October 6, 2011
By

I am not a vegetarian, but would be if I had to kill what I ate. I even brake for skunks. But after having two of my car’s electrical systems chewed up my mice, I am more than happy to kill the little rodents.

The second time was in September when the dreaded Check Engine Light came on my 2010 Honda Pilot. No big deal, I thought, since it was still under warranty.

Took the car to Hoffman Honda in Avon, where I discovered it was not a minor matter. Mechanic Steve Moreau checked his diagnostic tool and found that one of the sensors – a crucial one impacting the catalytic converter – was shot.

Steve (gombossy photos)

He popped the hood and to my surprise found a nice mice nest on top of the manifold and the remains of a chewed wire dangling off the sensor. It would have been a minor problem, were it not for the fact that the wire went under the manifold, requiring several hours of work as the top of the engine had to be removed.

My car is just one of hundreds of thousands of vehicles that are damaged by rodents every year. The cost of repair can run anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars.

Rocky Subramani, my service advisor at Hoffman Honda, told me that more than 100 cars were brought to his dealership in the past year because of rodent damage to electrical systems.

Rocky

“We had three cars just this week,” he told me Wednesday. The most expensive job was $1,000, but he has had electrical damage that exceeded $3,000 in one vehicle where the rodents chewed up the body harness.

So what makes our vehicles attractive to mice and other rodents? Heat and smell.

Subramani warns customers to clean all food – including sealed bags – out of cars, especially nuts and dog food. Also, anything that smells sweet like vanilla air fresheners.

Steve points out the nest and chewed wire.

There are all kinds of tools available on the Internet to try to keep the little varmints out of your car – anything from $20 magnetic mothball holders to thousand dollar metal barriers around your parked vehicle.

He said mothballs in the engine compartment helps keep rodents out. Some have used dryer sheets, liquid peppermint or coyote urine on cotton balls.

Subramani said the first thing people should do is regularly pop the hood and look for signs of a nest or droppings. Considering that this is the second time in three years I have had this problem – the first involved my Mini Cooper – I have scheduled that monthly check now on my outlook for both vehicles.

And both vehicles are loaded with mothballs under the hood.

Rocky's photo of car damage from mice

Editor’s note: DrivenCt.com is a consumer auto guide which CtWatchdog Editor & Publisher George Gombossy helped  create,  provides editorial guidance and advertising in return for a marketing fee. The columns that published from DrivenCt.com are not only edited by George, they are sometimes, suggested by him. In full disclosure, George’s son Ethan Gombossy is the Porsche service representative for Hoffman. And of course from time to time Hoffman dealerships pay for advertising on CtWatchdog.com. George also purchased his company vehicle at Hoffman prior to entering into the marketing agreement. Obviously George has a huge conflict of interest and therefor cannot publish any positive or negative comments from readers about Hoffman Auto Group. As he has in the past, he forwards any complaints he recieves to co-owner Brad Hoffman.


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29 Responses to Rodents Damage Cars By Chewing Electrical Connections: Tips On How To Avoid Costly Repairs

  1. Patricia Ross on October 6, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I had the same problem last year. I solved it with poison in my garage which kept the rodents away all year. But before I went to poison, I used cayenne pepper sprinkled on the manifold, that worked until I found evidence of them in my glove compartment they ate a candy bar and part of my registration. And they disovered them in the trunk. D Con is the way to go!!

  2. Bill G. on October 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

    You would think that someone who writes about cars would know that it is “brake” , not “break”! (2nd sentence)

  3. Bill G. on October 7, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Instead of poison, Patricia, get rid of the food in the car! That’s why you had the mice in the first place.

    • phebe chin on July 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      My toyota camery only 4 weeks old. How long to take rodent eats wiring. I feel that this camery stores in the Santa Monica storage area for 10 months? We don’t have rodent at Play Del rey or our home. Why Toyota did not warn their customers? The wiring was made with soy product?

      • Sharon Suddeth on February 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

        I also have a new Camry wtih rodent damage. I live in South Carolina. We do not have a rodent problem. My car only had a little over 100 miles when we had to pay for wiring harness to be replaced. Your comment about soy in the wiring is very interesting,how did you learn that? Have you had any other problems? Now my car is in shop with a transmission which may have to be replaced. Did Toyota take any responsable for your wiring repairs? Please take the time to reply.

  4. George Gombossy on October 7, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Thanks Bill, I changed it
    gg

  5. Debby on October 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Could we have more specifics on exactly where one puts mothballs in the engine compartment ?? I can’t quite envision just sprinkling them around in there !

    I also like ” Mouse Magic” by Bonide, which are tea bags filed with a special grade of oil of peppermint granules used by the grain industry to keep rodents away. Found at Agway, they are ridiculously expensive, however.

  6. George Gombossy on October 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Good question Debby. I used electrical tape to attach mothballs to areas of the engine that are cooler. You can also purchase magnetic containers that you can fill with mothballs.

  7. George Gombossy on October 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    George, I read your article concerning car wiring being eaten by rodents and what you thought attracted them to the wiring. while I am sure your theory makes sense, I have been in the auto repair business for over 45 years, I have owned my own shop for 33 years and I feel qualified to answer your question.
    After many years of finding wiring chewed up by rodents and wondering why we had not seen it with such vengence in the past, I decided to do a little research. In the process I came across an article written in “Motor Age” magazine about a year and a half ago that explained the dilemma. It seems that in an effort to make automobile components more “Green” and environmentally friendly, manufacturers of automotive wiring use “soy” in the production of the insulation for the wiring. The rodents are attracted to the soy which they can eat without much difficulty to their digestive system. I hope you find this information of interest. I just had to find out why — it’s just the mechanic in me — I needed to find the cause!!
    Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. (note) “Motor Age” magazine is published by monthly Hearst Publishing for the automotive trade.

    Richard C.Onofrio

    • lasey on May 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      You are exactly correct. Just had to take my 6-month old 2013 Honda Pilot to shop due to “check engine” light. Put it on portable checker & raised hood. Mouse chewed wiring to “knocking” sensor which lies several layers into engine ~$500 and of course it is not a warranty item (at least at this point-I’m not thru with them). Tech told me protective coating on wiring has “corn” component but maybe he meant soy. I thought he was just kidding but he said no, it was true. Corn or soy, both are grains which mice eat. Don’t these people have brains to think? Had a 2001 Hyundai and a 2007 GMS Sierra parked in same spot before and never had a problem. Obviously a known product defect they are not taking care of. Is there a class action lawsuit going on out there somewhere? I’ll sign up. Would hate to think I have to get rid of Honda to stop problem.

  8. richard griggs on October 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    the best thing to keep rodents out of your car is Peppermint oil just put some in small bottle caps around the car and mice won’t bother it. also if you spill some it won’t harm you ,i get it at the health food store.
    Richard Griggs

  9. Elwood Stagakis on August 29, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Use drawstring cloth bag tied under your hood or trunk to hold moth balls, peppermint or dryer sheets

  10. kyle on May 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    A Rid-A-Rat is a devise that works on light technology developed by a retired aerospace engineer and a animal behavioral specialist. It makes the environment irritating for any animal to stay. It is green,made in the USA by Americans and harmless to pets. They also give a 100% money back guarantee.
    RId-A-Rat’s labs have 100s of hours of video tape of all the urban legends and products that they tested and proved most of them didn’t work.

  11. Velda Bruce on May 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    We’ve been having problems with rodents, probably mice eating the lines to our gas tank. Any ideas to get rid of these critters?? Thanks in advance!

    • Merph on May 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Me too; if you find a solution or even a suggestion, please let me know. I have lost two fuel lines and now a tank filler tube.

  12. Elizabeth on August 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I have a brand new 2012 Toyota Highlander with 11,500 miles. In July, my AC started running with no key in the ignition and the key remote control to lock & unlock the car was not working…..but I noticed all this happening after I would take it through a car wash or if we had a heavy rain. This prob happened four times in two weeks. I took it to the dealership and they discovered that a rodent had gotten in and eaten two major cables of some sort -$6400 worth of damage/parts & labor. I was responsible for $500 from deductible, which is annoying since it is a new car from Toyota. I will be contacting Toyota in regards to the GREEN parts that they may be using which is attracting these problems.

    • Pam on March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Any luck after contacting Toyota Elizabeth? This is my 4th occurrence of rodent damage and I’m out of $2,000 thus far-thanks.

  13. Kat Bray on August 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Same problem here with a 2008 Nissan Altima. Seems ridiculous that manufacturers that came up with the swell idea of using soy can’t come up with a viable solution to the problem. But then why bother?? My car came out of the shop one week and was back in the next with wires chewed and another $1500 transmission harness ordered. Cha ching. Saw on another site Honda dealer does actually offer a tape with capsaicin to wrap wires with.
    •http://www.bernardiparts.com/Honda-TAPE-RODENT-19MM-20M__4019-2317.aspx
    Sorry you’ll have to copy and paste the link. I had the dealer spray the wires with a product called RapLast. It’s made to spray on leg wraps used on horses to keep them from biting at them. It has capsaicin it in as well. Can be sprayed or painted on with a brush but BE CAREFUL. Warning on bottle to make sure you are downwind. Don’t get it on you.
    Good Luck!

  14. Elizabeth on August 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Thanks Kay for the tip….I will check into ordering some of that tape!

  15. mary herald on August 14, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I find that the car manufacturers could infuse a repellent into the insulation if they so desired or a at least warn the customers of the possible problems however we as consumers always pay the price but I as a consumer will insist that i am informed of any green products that are use in the next vehicle I purchase and I will not buy it until they can insure me that if there is a problem they will fix it at their cost. when more consumers start guarding their purchases like that then perhaps we can see a change in the way people are treated

  16. jeff on January 16, 2014 at 10:15 am

    got into my car on cristmas eve check engine light was on car had no power. turns out rodent had chewed through knock sensor wire and ground wire for computer 300 dollars later all is fine im gonna fire my cat

  17. jj on March 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    it seem to me that the car manufactures r making a lot of money by making soy or corn for the wiring in your cars. the rodents r getting fed and the manufactures r making more money on repairs then what your car is worth. we need to stop buying cars that doesn’t protect the consumers with a warranty on this matter

  18. bobnj on July 2, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Rodents three times chewed thru my 2004 Pilot’s gas line between the gas cap and the tank. A friend of mine put a hose sleeve around the gas line and stopped the problem. It’s a plastic corrugated hose cover normally used for radiator hoses. It is slotted lengthwise and installation was trivial. I did try the hot sauce by the way and doesn’t seem to effect these squirrels :-)

  19. Randolf Scott on July 15, 2014 at 5:49 am

    My 2013 Hyundai Sonata received 400.00 worth of rodent damage under the hood Thanks to soy

  20. gale vance on August 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I would like to take action. What is the first step I should take? I had the problem in my Sienna and now in my 2013 Rav 4.
    I park next to an older Saturn and a Ford Explorer. They have no problems with rodents in the engine as I have.

  21. KAB on September 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Brought my brand new bmw 328d home on Sunday night. Friday morning the steering didn’t work. Turns out the soy-based wiring insulation attracted rabbits or rodents who chewed through the wire. Soy!

  22. robin r on September 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

    The check engine light on my 2009 mercedes sedan came on. The dealer asked me if I parked my car outside and not in the garage. I told them, for the past 12 years I have parked my vehicle outside!
    Photos from the mechanic show mouse/mice feces and damage to a wire caused by the rodent getting inside my engine. There was no evidence of the mouse/mice in the trunk or drivers side. Repairs came to $500.

  23. kirk on October 23, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Just purchased a new 2015 Sonata here in Las Cruces NM last week. Spending $500 dollars tomorrow @ Borman Autoplex due to this very issue. WIFE AND I ARE PI_SED!! Haven’t even made the 1st payment on our new car yet!!

  24. John Dale on November 17, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I would like to take action. I have a 2013 Rav 4.
    It needed a new wiring harness due to mice. I have 6 oth
    6 other vehicles parked nearby and none of
    Them ever has had this kind of problem. Is’nt
    It time Toyota took responsibility for this problem!

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