Consumer Reports: Tips to detect, prevent rodent damage to your cars

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It happens more than you think. As the weather starts to get colder, furry friends often look to make your car their home. Or worse, they might even make your car a meal.

Just ask Lisa Barrett. When she 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," she 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 will see just how badly furry critters are behaving.

"Looks like a rat or a mouse or something lived in there," someone says in a YouTube clip.

Jon Linkov is an Autos Editor for Consumer Reports and said they see a lot of frustration about this.

"We've noticed lots of complaints about rodents chomping their way through car wires. Causing huge headaches for car owners," he said.

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. It's 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," said Linkov. "If you do spot some, you can use rodent tape to install over the damaged wires to protect from future damage."

He said you can also ask your mechanic to install wire mesh over area where rodents might be able to sneak in, such as a ventilation area.

As for Barrett, 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 is a long-established fact that rodents are drawn to chew on wires, whether in cars or in homes.

Written and produced by Justin Mendoza
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