Rodents under the hood - a common, expensive and dangerous problem
(KUTV) Late last year, Utah's Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox, was having some car trouble. He lamented on twitter that the steering went out. His mechanic found the culprit. A squirrel, looking for a warm bed, had snuck under the hood and destroyed some wires.
“Lucky no one was hurt," Mr. Cox wrote.
At Hillside Tire and Service in Sandy, Assistant Manager Chris Pappas says what happened to Mr. Cox is a far more common problem than most people realize, especially in the winter.
"The colder it gets, rodents, like everything else, will seek out shelter and warmth,” he said. “A car is a great place to do that."
Under the hood provides a lot more than a warm engine block. The varmints shred the soft insulation, rubber seals and plastic wires to build their nests.
“They like to chew up wiring and things like vacuum lines,” Pappas said.
It can be expensive and dangerous.
“If a rodent chewed through a wiring harness and created a short somewhere, you could cause an electrical fire,” Pappas said. “If a rodent chewed through a fuel line, and you had a fuel leak, you could start a fire."
A Get Gephardt investigation found, in the past few years, several lawsuits have been filed against car makers arguing they aren’t doing enough to stop it and suggesting the car makers should pay for the damage.
Short of suing, there are things you can do to protect your ride. There are products on the market like rodent-deterrent tape. It’s laced with chili-peppers so critters don't want to eat it.
Pappas says don't give the critters a chance to get comfortable.
“Best advice is drive your car on a regular basis," he said. “We see it more on cars that don't get driven a lot.”