Some Critters Have No Respect
Once I zeroed-in on the possibility of critters under the hood, I began spying a few select wires that had, indeed, become teeth-sharpening fodder for some furry beast. Wires beside the radiator support and near the horn, headlamps, and yes - airbag sensors - were chewed and cut in two.
I had to look pretty closely, but I saw that just one of the wires attached to the first injector was completely severed as well! (It's still fun to find the root cause for a misfire, especially when it is not a typical reason.)
Wires severed near the front SRS sensor
So, my next task was to look at all of the wires, hoses, lines - essentially everything - for signs of further damage. I was fairly confident that I had found the reason for the misfire code and the supplemental restraint system (SRS) lamp being on, but I needed to ensure that when this cruiser hit the road next time, it would perform as expected without fail.
When we dropped the plastic belly pan below the front bumper we found a clue that pointed to the identity of our unknown suspect: droppings. It just goes to show: You can tell the species by its feces! We now knew that our culprit was a bunny, and we put the sketch artist to work right away.
Nesting is a nuisance!
Recently, I had a customer with a Ford Expedition tell me that he had no heat coming from his panel outlets or to his feet; the fan blew to the windshield only. You probably thought the same thing that I did: This means that the vacuum-controlled manual heater system is performing as it should - it is in its "default" mode. So, where do I start?
I have learned to scrutinize those crucial little black vacuum hoses that often break under the hood, so I popped the hood. Imagine my surprise when I saw a really big nest on top of the engine, spreading to the back of the engine under the cover of the firewall.
In addition, the critters-in-residence had borrowed much of the under-hood insulation for nesting material, so we removed the nest with leather gloves and vacuumed out the leftover scraps. A word to the wise: Never forget the urine, feces, and potential disease just waiting to wreak havoc with you and your buddies in the shop. We always wear gloves and often a mask. If there is any visible dust, we'll treat it like a brake job and wet the nest with water.
Once the nest had been removed, we began the search for vacuum line damage. The picture above shows two breaks in the hoses; one is clean and the next has signs of chewing. Thankfully, repairing both breaks returned the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to proper working order.
How do we keep these critters off of the "10 Most Wanted" list? Over the years I have discovered that removing sources of food is an important deterrent. If you park in the garage and mice are nesting in your vehicle, make certain that you have no dog food, bird seed or other food source available. If bunnies are burrowing on top of your customer's belly pan, your customer needs to change where he or she parks their car and perhaps use mothballs or "bottled urine" - such as fox urine - to deter the rabbits. Critters will avoid using vehicles as nests if they are turned into hard-to-reach, uncomfortable places. And customers can avoid unnecessary hassles and repairs in the process.
|Brian Manley is a vocational automotive instructor for the Cherry Creek school district in Aurora, Colo. He is an ASE master certified automobile technician and a former member of the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) board of trustees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
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