Car owners across the country are finding a problem with some newer cars: Without warning they won't start. There's nothing wrong with the car itself, or the battery. It's actually an animal problem.
Has the push to go green gone too far? That may be the case when it comes to the wiring in our cars, trucks, and SUVs. It turns out a new type of environmentally-friendly wiring may be too friendly to animals.
No Start, Wiring On Driveway
Ohioans Woody and Mary Herald couldn't figure out why their Buick Lucerne suddenly wouldn't run.
"I got in it," Mary said, "and it would just click click and would not start!"
So her husband popped the hood, looked around, and on the ground underneath spotted a chewed off wiring harness.
"On the ground is this connector with 6 inches of wire on either end of it," Woody said,"that the varmints had chewed in two completely."
New Wiring Tasty To Rodents
It turns out a number of car brands have wiring that is considered tasty to rodents, according to Connecticut Watchdog, CarTalk, and a number of automotive blogs.
Mechanic Marc Duebber says many automakers have moved to biodegradable, soy-based wiring insulation in the past 10 years. It won't last forever in landfills, like older plastic wiring. It's great for the environment, but even better for hungry mice and squirrels.
"They are drawn to it, therefore they are chewing and eating it," Duebber said. "And we are finding nests created in the upper plenums (fresh air intakes)."
He showed an air filter that mice recently turned into a nest, using bits of wiring insulation.
What You Can Do
Some automakers are responding. Honda dealers now sell rolls of anti-rodent tape for wires that can be used on any car, not just Hondas.
"There are some products you can put there as a rodent deterrent," Duebber said.
The Heralds bought a product called Rodent Repellent, for use under the hood. They have also put bits of moth balls around the wiring, just to be sure. They say they simply wish they had been warned before their $400 repair.
"They want to go green but they should warn the public," Mary said.
If you suspect a critter has gotten under the hood of your car, you need to take action immediately. It will be back, and may bring friends and family next time.