We here at Ricks Performance have been coming across some very strange running cars lately. The customers will tell us that all of the sudden the car started idling poorly, is making strange noises, has hesitation issues or the check engine light is on. At least one a week with these symptoms. Every car’s auto repair issue is a little bit different. But the cause is typically the same. Upon lifting the hood we find rodent droppings, teeth marks on rubber hoses and wiring insulation along with evidence of nests! It seems that furry little creatures are finding warm engine compartments very inviting. Not to mention good eating. With all the environmentalists whining about how terrible it is that cars use plastics and rubber, the car makers are mixing in all natural ingredients to stretch the plastics and rubber so they are “greener”.
The car manufacturers are using soy based products to mix with the plastic and rubber. I guess mice like soybeans, so when you mix in some soy with some wiring insulation or rubber vacuum hoses you have a very palatable combination. The problem appears to be more prevalent in newer model cars. Last week we had a Mazda RX-8 here with a check engine light on for an evaporative emission leak. Turns out the customer had been noticing droppings on the garage floor but could not figure out where they came from. There is a plastic tube under the RX-8 that runs from the gas tank to the engine (not the fuel line) and a mouse had eaten a hole in it. Gasoline vapors were escaping to the atmosphere from the hole. To replace the hose we had to remove the fuel tank, rear subframe, driveshaft, axles and heat shielding. The bill came to $1700.00. His insurance picked up most of it.
But the most amazing car to date is a 2006 Honda Accord that came in yesterday with the check engine light on. The car has only 27,000 miles on it. The code was for a circuit problem with the knock sensor on the engine. The knock sensor detects any engine knock or ping and tells the computer about it. We found the computer was not getting any signal. We removed the upper section of the intake manifold to reach the sensor and found the wiring to it was eaten through and actually separated. This is where the story gets really interesting.
I called the Honda dealer to order the new section of harness that goes to the knock sensor and told the parts man that the wire was eaten through by a rodent. He told me “thats the wire all the mice like”. I thought he was joking until I received the new harness and believe it or not the wire had tape encircling it with little mice pictures on it with Xs through their eyes. I called the guy at the dealer back and asked him what was up with the “no mice” tape on the wiring. He said apparently rodents like the taste of this wire particularly and Honda actually puts tape on the wire to warn the mice not to eat it!
What will the car makers come up with next?
We recommend installing rodent bait around the garage and make sure to always keep it fresh. Try not to park the car outside or on the side of the house. Otherwise you will be coming to see us sooner rather than later.