KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A pesky and pricey problem is on the rise: mice and squirrels chewing through wires inside your car.
Trenton Thompson is learning the ins and outs of fixing cars as an automotive student at Metropolitan Community College. At his internship, he’s finding mice and squirrels are a more common culprit under the hood.
"It's like a little house," he said. "They're protected from the wind, the water, the rain. So they're pretty comfortable in there."
In addition to acting as a shield from the elements, the plant-based coating on the wires can prove a tasty treat for rodents.
"They'll come in here and chew these wires up, get under the fuse box and chew that up,” Thompson said.
Once they take a nibble, they’ll also take a bite out of your budget. Fixing chewed up wires isn't cheap.
"It could cost anywhere from couple tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars depending on what they chew on, where it's at and what I have to do to get in there and repair it,” Thompson said.
Terry Gonzales knows what a headache it can be. He accidentally left a pack of sunflower seeds inside his car a few weeks back.
"The shells were empty and just all around the floor, and I thought well, something was in here,” Gonzales said.
The mice had a field day inside his Honda Accord. But thankfully, they didn’t leave any major damage. He set some traps and caught eight of the little guys in a few days.
Then he learned a friend went through the same thing but wasn’t as lucky.
“She has a Toyota of some sort and her wires are all chewed up,” he said.
The repair bill was in the hundreds but not bad enough for an insurance claim and not covered by warranty.
Several car makers are now facing class action lawsuits over the wiring. Plaintiffs insists manufacturers know the plant-based wires are a problem, but so far, there have been no major recalls or switches to different wire-coating material.
"I think they should take some steps to prevent that," Gonzales said. "They probably could use something else other than a food-type item to use on the electrical system."
There are a couple things you can do to keep pests out.
You can use predator urine, such as fox or coyote urine. Spray it around where you park your vehicle and on the fenders to keep rodents away. It sells at many hardware and outdoors stores for around $10.
You can also purchase rodent tape to wrap the wires in for about $20.