Cars.com Chevy Volt: Rodent Redux

Rodentdamage

With the Cars.com Chevrolet Volt repaired from its recent run-in with a rodent, we're revisiting the story with a response from Chevy, some reflections and a few of the funnier suggestions we received. As we've reported, a rat made a meal of one of the car's wiring harnesses last week, and now it can be shown, thanks to the dealership that serviced it. The final cost was $750 and the repair took two days. It's good to know a Volt can be serviced in a city that will be one of the last to actually sell the car. (We purchased ours in California.)

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Asked for comment, Chevrolet spokesman Rob Peterson said the problem isn't a new one in cold climates. “The risk of damage is no different than that experienced by customers who plug-in to heat their engine block, or whose recently operated engine offers critters a warm reprieve from the chilly temperatures,” he said. True enough, but we've parked hundreds of conventional cars in the same structure and never had a problem, and block heaters are relatively rare in the U.S. Cold starts aren't the problem they once were, so block heaters and electric dipsticks are becoming a memory. We suspect we'll hear of similar problems as electric cars with heated batteries proliferate.

In fairness, conditions were extreme when Chilly the rat sought refuge in our Volt. The temperatures were below freezing at best and around zero at worst, and due to the blizzard, the parking structure had light traffic for two days. All the same, city rats aren't exactly bashful, and Todd Dore's electric Beetle, whose battery warmers weren't in use, was right next to the Volt and went unmolested. Perhaps Chilly prefers American fare to German?

We hope it doesn't happen again, but the experience was certainly amusing. In an earlier post, Kieran J. Lindsey — a wildlife expert with the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources who counts among her specialties the "human-wildlife interface" — introduced the term "parking structure hygiene" to our lexicon. Nissan's Katherine Zachary said this could never happen with the Leaf electric car because the underbody is sealed. She then added, “Don't underestimate our zeal to win the plug-in rat-race. Feel free to send Chilly back to us here in Tennessee anytime ...”

Our region's Coulomb charging station distributor said the company is working on a "rodent attack" alert to join the others, which include the "ground fault" warning I received. This would allow us to set off the car's horn and lights through OnStar. (OK, he didn't actually say that, but I'm pushing for it.)

The suggestions, online and off, were equally entertaining, ranging from placing fabric softener sheets under the hood to obtaining an official Cars.com Jack Russell terrier and a heated doghouse or a bobcat in a parka. One commenter proposed encircling the car with human urine, which prompted usually reserved Cars.com editor Mike Hanley to point out that he already has a lot of responsibilities.

Fortunately our Volt was at the dealership last week, and the temperatures finally climbed this past weekend. Chilly ought to put his little paws together and pray it doesn't get cold again. All the suggestions about adapting the car's sensors to detect rodents were compelling, but we've already witnessed the fallibility of high tech. Call me old fashioned, but I'm leaning toward a pot of coffee and a Taser. Chilly never should have messed with Cars.com.

Comments 

Jim

We had a lawnmower which had a gas line that gave mice the muchies - the vendor claimed the specific plastic was oddly attractive to them, and under service they replaced the line with one made out of a different plastic blend.

Hector

can't GM add a shield embedded into the conduit? In telecom cables used in a outside environment have shields to protect the cables from rodents.

How about some kind of conduit or steel sheathing in areas where the wires are accessible?

Hector

kevlar and carbon fiber mesh as well might do the trick embedded into the conduit or have or a kevlar/carbon fiber bonding tape.

Troy S.

I think the rat deserves the same pay raise GM employees are currently getting.

Daniel Joseph

Actually cars in Europe have had this problem with an animal called a Mater which loves spark plug wires. I suspect there are other rodents that somehow find their mineral deficiencies met by chewing on substances found in cars. I had one eat the spark plug wires out of my volkswagen while traveling across Austria. They had to put a special substance in the wires to deter the critters.

Perhaps they will start to lace plastic with rat poison.

Thanks for more than a few smiles about the difficulties of dealing with rats in the city. On a serious note, those of us with an interest in antique cars would love to know of any good suggestions for avoiding rats and mice that are effective. Did you get any ideas that are known to be effective?

I would spray Rataway Fragrance to protect the wiring & engine, Non-toxic & non-poisonous Go to
w w w Rataway dot com for more information

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