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Consumer Reports: Preventing rodent damage in cars

Posted at 8:43 AM, Nov 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 08:43:24-04

It happens more than you think. As the weather starts to get colder, furry friends often look to make your car a home - or worse - they might even make your car a meal. Consumer Reports explains.

When Lisa Barrett went to start her truck a few weeks ago it was completely dead. So she had it towed.

"The mechanic had noticed some definite mouse damage, that there were some wires chewed," Barrett said. "All through here the mice had been eating."

More than $400 later, the wires were repaired. Lisa is not alone. Look online and you'll see just how badly furry critters are behaving.

"We've noticed lots of complaints about rodents chomping their way through car wires, causing huge headaches for car owners," said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports Autos Editor.

In fact, class action lawsuits filed against Toyota and Honda claim vehicles are defective because soy-based materials are being used to cover wires, making them attractive to rodents. The lawsuits also claim the car companies should be responsible for the cost of repairs.

To help combat the issue, Honda sells rodent-deterrent tape treated with spicy capsaicin - the active component in chili peppers - a fact the lawsuit claims is an acknowledgement of the defective nature of soy-based material.

So what can you do to prevent rodents from eating your car wires?

"If your car sits in the street or garage for a while it's a good idea to often check under the hood for rodent damage. If you do spot some, you can use rodent tape to install over the damaged wires to protect from future damage. Also, if you do see an area where rodents can come in such as a ventilation area, you can ask your mechanic to install wire mesh like this," Linkov said.

As for Lisa, she hopes this never happens again.

In statements to Consumer Reports both manufacturers said there is no evidence indicating that substances used for wiring cause rodents to chew through them. A Honda spokesman went further saying it's a long established fact that rodents are drawn to chew on wires - whether in cars or in homes.