Was my Focus really a nighttime snack for an animal?

A week ago today, my Focus was dead in my driveway. No start, no crank, no nothing. I had it towed in to the shop, where after 3 days they returned it saying that some animal had chewed through my battery wires. This morning I went out to go to work…no start, no crank, no nothing. I unleashed on the guy at the shop, and he promised to look at it today.

I’m wondering what recourse I might have. I never saw the battery wires, so I don’t know how “chewed” they looked. It seems unlikely that the same thing could have happened again, exactly one week later, especially since I have been popping the hood religiously every morning to look for nests or evidence of animals.

If they discover another problem, do they owe me anything for the repair last week? I realize they probably don’t, but I’m just extremely frustrated right now and looking for any break I can get! :slight_smile:

Animals chewing on under-hood wires is quite common, and the destruction can be very expensive. They chew through the insulation and the wires short out and drain the battery. Some of the smaller wires can be completely chewed through.

What good will “unleashing” on the shop guy do?

Sorry, let me clarify…by “unleashing,” I just meant that I told him I was extremely frustrated that the problem didn’t appear to be fixed, but I definitely made sure to say, “I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to take it out on you.” Unleashing was too strong a word.

Also, I understand that animals will chew through wires, but I’m just wondering what people think about the possibility of animals chewing on the exact same wires twice in one week? Could it be something else that was misdiagnosed?


Well, if the animal(s) liked the wires enough the first time, why wouldn’t they still like them? I suggest you get a good barn cat to get rid of the animal(s).

Whenever I get a mechanic’s word that he discovered the cause of a problem, an odd or unique condition, my immediate reaction is “Really?! Show me!” Usually he is delighted to walk me into the bay and point out his discovery. Even if the work has already been completed I will still ask to be shown and the mechanic will oblige. (Note that you must ask with an attitude of curiosity or amazement, NOT suspicion.)

Use this technique for your present crisis and all future dealings. If a critter has indeed chewed through your wiring and you are shown the evidence, then you will show proper respect for the mechanics and also realize that you can likely make your own repairs if there is a next time.

Finally, you want to know about refunds or credit. You had asked them to get your car running on your first visit and so they did. They earned their fees. At this point, however, there is no way for anyone to know if your current problem is unrelated or a recurrence, in which case the shop is blameless, or an example of prior incompetence. You must first hear what they have to say.

why don’t you sprinkle a thin dusting of baking soda around and under the engine compartment one evening and look for animal tracks the next morning. I had a similar problem with rats.

ps: no rodent that I know of could or would chew “thru” a battery cable. They would just chew off the insulation.

Animals love to chew on wires. My cat used to chew through the phone wires on my home phones. I had to train him not to. I suspect that there’s something about the resiliance rubber insulation that they like.

And yup, I’ve also seen wires chewed through on a car.

  • mountainbike

I had to help a friend twice change his ignition wires on the same car – squirrels chewed thru them.


I own two Nissan Pathfinders, a 94 and a 97. The 97 has fallen prey to rats twice in less than a year - one ignition wire chewed completely through and insulation off others both times. Why the 97 and not the 94? Who knows! Rats and not mice? - droppings look pretty big to me! Not only have I replaced wires but I had to have the computer replaced, too. I just got the 97 back today and am leaving the hood up. Maybe it won’t seem so cozy. Hope it doesn’t rain (dream on - Seattle, WA)


If you live in an area where road salt is used, animals will chew your wires, and even your heater hoses. Wash the salt off regularly, and, maybe spray them with something that tastes & smells awful. As for animals in general liking wires, my dog when a puppy chewed through the TV cord ONCE while the TV was plugged in. We still have the dog but she steers clear of any wires or cords!