A Rodent Goes Green and Moves into A Hybrid

A Shop in NH. Takes on A Rodent

Rodent damage to cars has been on the rise.  In New Hampshire we can thank the mighty Oak tree for the amazing abundance of acorns that have fallen over the past 2 years.  With such a splendor of winter food the rodent population has exploded.  Though you may not know it the automobile is the storehouse of choice!

Affordable Housing for Rodents

With a heart rate of nearly 400 beats per minute the Chipmunk is a ball of energy gathering a winter supply of acorns.  But that energy is not all spent on collecting nuts if you know what I mean.  With a gestation period of one month it doesn’t take long for one female Chipmunk to knock out 5 to 6 little munks.   Though chipmunks were thought to prefer ground burrows they have learned there are much better places to sleep, grow the family, store and eat their nuts without digging a hole in the ground.

Where They Like to Live

We pretty much live in a rural area with trees, birds, deer that eat my shrubs and rodents.  It is not uncommon to be servicing a customers vehicle and hear the sound of an unbalanced blower motor.  Unbalanced because a mouse made its way in and built a nest in the blower cage.  As a note; the little guys and gals cannot handle the G-force of a blower motor and are often found partly extruded through the blower cage.  That was back in the day, things have changed.  The chipmunk has surpassed the mouse in its destructive abilities.

The Honda

Sue has been a great customer for many years.  She is proud of her 2000 Honda Hybrid and really enjoys the great gas mileage her Honda provides.  During a recent service she spoke of a noise that she heard above her in the headliner, “It sounds like something is loose and rolling around”.

The Appointment

Sue’s Honda was scheduled in the next morning for a little look under the headliner, no big deal we’d been here before.

Nick started by pulling the door seal off which held the edge of the headliner in place.  As he did some pieces of acorn shells fell from the edge of the headliner.  This was our first clue that there was more to this than a loose part rolling around.  Next he removed the B-Pillar garnish and there came clue 2, a rodent had chewed  part of the plastic trim away.

As Nick started to lower the driver’s side of the headliner more fell out, actually “a lot” of little somethings fell out!  Enough so that Nick  said this is bad and backed right out of the car.   Side note; Nick loves to fish, hunt, is into organic farming the kind of guy that a little rodent poop isn’t going to bother. Nick was bothered!  Time to bring Sue out from the waiting room…

We needed Sue for  2 reasons;
1. To see what we’re seeing
2. To call the insurance company, as this was going to get costly!

It was clear, something had been building something for sometime in the headliner of  Sue’s Honda.  Even though the vehicle had not been disassembled fully, Sue could see that this was bad.  We told her we would need protective gear before we went any further.  Sue was given a free loaner car and she was off and running.

The Necessary Gear

Rodent waste is bad stuff ; it can make you very ill. It was clear that protective gear was needed for  Nick .
In the pic to the left you can see that Nick is ready for the nasty that was coming his way.

With his protective gear on Nick went back to work removing the headliner from the vehicle.  Once the headliner was removed the extent of the damage to the vehicle was fully realized.

Note; rodent damage to a vehicle is usually covered under the comprehensive part of your vehicle owner’s insurance policy.  The deductible is often much less than the collision side.



Vehicle Damage Evaluation



Just Click on Images for a better look at things, stuff and stuff


Pretty easy to see nesting material, acorn remains, rodent remains and that funny looking yellow stain is not the normal color of the headliner.

Click on the image for a better look of what was rolling around in the headliner of Sue’s Honda

Rodent Nest

This bundle of insulation came from the engine compartment side of the fire wall.

Just how did it migrate its way up into the headliner?   The location of this nest is above the rear view mirror.

Driver’s Side Curtain Air Bag

The same could be found on the passenger’s side




Passenger’s Side Curtain Air Bag

As with the headliner, the side curtain air bag had been a waste depository with just a few yellow stains.


Surprise Under the Back Seat

When removing the lower section of the back seat for cleaning and disinfecting, a surprise was found.  Not only had the rodents found their way back to the rear of the vehicle they built a nest right against the Honda’s high voltage battery.    The nest was only inches from the opening for the cooling fan to the Hybrid battery.  Can you say battery melt down?


More Stuffing

Once the back of the rear seat was
removed even more stuffing was found.  The stuffing just kept falling out as  the car was disassembled.  Because of this finding the trunk was fully disassembled to be sure the little guys hadn’t built back there too!


If Rodents Could Read

This little guy was closer than he realized to becoming
roasted Chipmunk.




Why Nick Needs a Suit

You can see why we had to suit Nick up for the job.  The showering volume of rodent waste, nesting material  and who knows what was quite extensive.

Cleaning and disinfecting the interior took a bit of time.  Lucky for Sue she was visiting some place warm and sunny while her car aired out from the smell of the disinfectant

The True Cost

As you can see the rodents had a field day with Sue’s Hybrid Honda.  If this problem had not be caught,  the damage could have possibly totaled out the vehicle.

How did we know this was the work of a Chipmunk?  During lunch, Tony looked over to the Honda to see a chipmunk sticking its head out from the engine compartment.  The little guy had the audacity to chew him out.  We even got the little dude on film.  I just have to figure out how to get Nick’s cursing  out of the video.

To repair Sue’s Honda required the following:

Replacement Headliner
Driver’s side curtain air bag
Passenger’s side curtain air bag
Trim/Garnish panel
Cowling cover
Cabin air filter
Hepa bag and filter
Haz-mat suit, gloves, head sock and mask
A lot of disinfectant
And Time

All of which totaled over $2,200

Side Note:  Sue’s husband, Mike, an avid Subaru owner lost one of his Subaru’s to fire caused by rodents chewing on the vehicle’s wiring harness.  The bare wires contacted and the Subaru went up in flames.  Mike escaped unscathed.

Sue and Mike have now stepped up their efforts to push back against the rodent population.  How successful they’ll be?  We’ll have to wait and see.

I’ll be Back!

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