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Why Do Squirrels Hate Me?

Darn those squirrels! They took shelter during a storm under the hood of my car. While under the hood, they chewed through some wires. Next day, my car won’t start, but the battery is working. A tow truck driver who was supposed to bring my car to the shop tried to “McGuyver” the ground wires to work - and they did, but only for about a day. The following day my check engine light came on and so I took it to the shop. They said the error code had to do with the transmission, but it was prob. false because of the chewed wires. They replaced the wires and connector dealies and sent me on my way. The next day my engine light came on again and my transmission was acting strange. I couldn’t get above 40 mph (I drive an automatic) and it wouldn’t shift gears. Took it back to the shop and they said my PCM is not working and therefore not communicating w/my transmission. I asked if this was related to the chewed wires because it seems terribly unfortunate to have 2 crazy problems like this in one week. The mechanic said, “Yes, probably.” The insurance claims adjuster thinks otherwise.
What do you all think? Is the busted Powertrain Control Module relate to the chewed ground wires or not?

From what you’ve described, it’s likely to be related to the MacGyver repair. He could easily have shorted something out while fooling around with the wires, or connected a wire where it’s not supposed to be connected, running too much power through the ECU, and eventually damaging it.

How can I prove this? What should be my next move?

Shadowfax, thank you for your reply. What should I say to the tow truck company now that I’m looking at $1100 in repairs? I love this car. I don’t want to trade it in yet. I JUST paid it off!

Update: the new PCM was installed but then it messed up the transmission and the shift cellanoid (pardon my spelling errors-I don’t know what I’m talking about).
My hair has turned completely gray. Is it worth it to fix all of these things? How can something as cute as a squirrel cause so much misery?

Whether it is “worth it” to fix depends on the model, age, mileage and general condition of the car, which you haven’t told us.

The tow driver or the company he works for should carry “errors and omissions” insurance if they are reputable, which you can make a claim against for frying your first PCM by monkeying with the wires instead of just giving you a tow. Your own car insurance company might help you make a claim.

If the new PCM damaged a transmission solenoid, that sounds like it should be covered by the shop warranty because they installed a faulty part or installed it incorrectly. If the problem instead is that after the new PCM was installed, the shop discovered that the solenoid was damaged by McGuyver, then you would add that to your errors and omissions claim.

Was the tow driver under contract to a bigger firm, like your car insurance company, AAA, or the vehicle manufacturer’s roadside assistance plan? If so, contact their office as well as they will probably help you with the malpractice claim and can also cut off their contract with the tow company if they won’t make it right for you. You can also make a claim through the Better Business Bureau.

Thank you! This is very helpful.
The last time I checked my car was Kelley Blue Book valued at about $2,000.
It’s in good condition, 140,000 miles on it.

I would be happy to be corrected by someone else, but I think if a transmission solenoid is damaged, your car is basically totaled. The cost of dropping the transmission and taking it apart to replace the solenoid, plus the new PCM, is probably more than the value of the car. If the tow driver’s insurance will honor the claim, expect them to offer to buy the car from you and hope they pay close to blue book value.

If you can’t get coverage, then you have to evaluate the cost of the repair against the cost of a new car. If you end up with a $2000 bill and the car lasts another 2 years, that’s less than $100 a month and you can’t buy much for that. If the car is sound in all other ways, it might be worth it to make the repair.

I had the shift solenoids replaced on my Olds and I think the whole bill was $240 including a fluid change. Also had a 4th gear solenoid replaced on my Buick and that was no big deal. I really don’t see how plugging in a PCM us going to destroy a trans. Must have been a short in the wiring to the solenoid to short it out. I really wonder if you need to have a better shop look at it. Wire damage from chewing should be fairly obvious.