When Squirrels (or other rodents) eat your car's electrical wires

We had a similar proble to the gentleman from Grand Juncton Colorado although our rodents were mice. A little google search turned up a product by Honda (which his Accura dealer should have known about…). It is called “RODENT TAPE” and it is an electrical type of tape that is impregnated with the chemical that makes hot peppers really hot. Wrapping the wires with this amazing stuff has prevented our mice from eating any more of the insulation off of our vehicle wiring and I suspect that it would be worth trying out to stop squirrels as well. The stuff is expensive - I recall we paid $25 for a roll the size of regular electrical tape. It is gray with little mice printed on it every inch or so. We bought it from an outfit called OEM Accura Parts and the product ID was 4019-2317-Honda. It comes in a role 19 mm wide and 20 m long. For us, living out in the country surrounded by fields and field mice, it would have been “cheap at twice the price”

Sounds like it would be harder for you to wrap the exposed wiring than for the mice to eat the exposed wiring – how about something you could brush on? Rodents can also enter through the body of a car and eat wires in the dashboard and doors (very expensive), and tear up the interior, so consider sealing up any potential entrance points (we do this with a truck we have in a storage lot).

BTW are you from the Crestone area in Colorado? Here’s a rodent story for you. Four years ago I went on a trail maintenance outing in the Colony Lakes area near Colorado’s Crestone Peaks (for those outside the area, this involves a long, difficult four-wheel drive trail that often damages 4WD vehicles --not hte kind of place you’d want to call for a tow truck). As we came out at week’s end, we passed the parking area at the terminus of the trail, saw a GM SUV with its hood up, and asked if we could help. Turns out the drivers had rented this vehicle (and yes, they had the standard clause that forbade them to take it out on this kind of trail) and sure enough, while they were in the mountains, the rodents had eaten through their wiring, sound insulation, and some of the interior. We all wondered just what the heck they were going to do about getting all the wiring repaired several miles from a repair station and how they were going to manage the rental company. Well, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time, but did we ever feel bad for them (Many of the vehicles we saw on the trail had plenty of spare parts and many drivers were pretty good at fixing things so I am sure they made it out before too long, and the area did have vehicles that could come up and help out at a price). This situation was something worth avoiding.

We kept our food locked up and tried to keep from eating in the truck on the way up, to keep from attracting mice. The driver of our trail vehicle also used moth balls, which could be fairly easily retrieved. Not sure it would work, but our driver said it was pretty standard and “it worked for us.”

Mice. rats and squirrels do not eat your wiring because they think it tastes good and is good for them. They probably do so because they crave some mineral or salt that is unavailable to them. Buy a small mineralized salt block at a pet store and put it under your car. It should prove more to the taste of the rodents and save your wiring. This is cheap and easy to do, and seems to be protecting my cars.

Rhodents chew continually and instinctually wherever they are because their teeth grow continually throughout their lives, and if they don;t keep them worn down the teeth can actually grow long enough to impair their ability to eat. Rats have even been known to chew brick.

There is a spray on “critter-ridder” repellant sold at Home Depot. I’m sure it’s also available at other big-box hardware stores. According to the label, it irritates the skin of the rhodents and they won’t return. It’s worth a try.

Our 2010 Prius developed a sound, one cold morning, when the engine started up as my wife backed the car out of the garage, it sounded like playing cards in the spokes of a bicycle wheel (ahh childhood memories). Since the car was due for it’s 20K check, I mentioned it to our friendly Toyota Service guy and he said he’d check. When I picked up the car later in the day I asked about the car he said everything was OK and they found the noise source. It was a mouse nest in the heater fan. The filter was replaced, the nest cleaned out, no problem. He has seen the problem before, because the mice are looking for warmth in the dead of winter. He suggested two things. (1) Scented Dryer Anti-Static Cloth, used to stop clothes clinging together, tie a couple off under the hood in various places, rodents cannot stand the odor, (2) Spray FABREZE into the engine compartment every so often, again, rodents cannot stand the smell. Seems to work.

The general idea that you can keep rodents from doing damage by using something that keeps them away from just one area is doomed to fail more often then not. So you keep the rodent from eating the wiring or out of your heater…big deal. There are lots of other things in a car that can eventually occupy their attention. Trapping, poisoning and generally removing rodents as they appear, is the best long term successful solution IMO. DECON works well for me but must be kept in an enclosed area with the car where only the rodents can get in, leave for water and die. We must have different rodents where I live. They use things like dryer sheets to clean up after them selves after they eat and defecate on every thing else.

So if you want to provide them with alternate nutrients they need to propagate even more and bother everyone else, at least put it in a trap.

I also have an Acura TL 2005. A few years ago while still under warranty I noticed a warning light had appeared. I took it into the Acura dealer and they said that a mouse had crawled up from beneath the engine and chewed through a wire. I can’t remember what the wire was for. They replaced it with difficulty and a $470 bill! The service person told me that the original wire had a soy covering on it which attracted mice. He showed me the new package for the new wire. It had a picture of a rodent in a circle with a slash across it–rodent proof, in other words. I discussed the charge with the dealer and later sent a note to Acura who denied coverage by warranty even though I claimed that the car had been sold with a defective part. I lost. BTW, it was news to me that we had mice in our garage. So I had an exterminator check things out. He inspected and said you don’t have a mouse, you have a rat! He put out a large trap in our garage with peanut butter as bait. The rat was caught that night! We have had no problem since. I wish he had tried a soy product.

Check with your automobile insurance policy agent for coverage. This type of problem occurs more frequently that you would think.

Chipmonks have caused problems for me. Several years ago, my 1978 Oldsmobile stopped running about 1/10 of a mile from our house. My wife pushed me back home with the other car. I primed the carburetor and it ran for a few seconds and stopped. I had my AAA towing insurance tow it to my independent mechanic. Fifteen minutes after the wrecker left the driveway, my independent mechanic called me and said that the car was fixed and that the charge would be $10. When I picked up the car, he said he knew the trouble before the wrecker had lowered the car (it had been towed from the rear). He saw gasoline leaking from the engine compartment. A chipmonk had gnawed the neoprene fuel line at the fuel pump which was a mechanical pump operated by the camshaft on the engine. Raising the rear of the car caused it to leak gasoline. Another time, my air conditioning compressor wouldn’t come on. After checking the circuit breakers and finding that I had power at the outdoor compressor unit, I called the HVAC company that does my work. Chipmonks had chewed the low voltage wire in the crawl space.
More recently, I had my 2011 Toyota Sienna in for an oil change. The service technician found squirrels had stored some nuts under the cover on top the engine. No damage had been done and I was not charged for removing the nuts. I had them check my 2003 4Runner and there was no evidence that squirrels had been under the hood.
Our previous dog, a mixed breed that was part Jack Russell terrier was very good at keeping down the chipmonk population and driving the squirrels back up the tree. I started having the problem after she passed away. My present dog doesn’t think that going after chipmonks is in his job description.