Home » This Cute Groundhog Chewed Up My Car’s Wiring, Took A Dump On Its Engine, And Tried Setting It On Fire

This Cute Groundhog Chewed Up My Car’s Wiring, Took A Dump On Its Engine, And Tried Setting It On Fire

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For an animal with an entire day named after it, the groundhog is surprisingly loathed, and by seemingly the entire human population. People set traps to capture or kill the rodents, some folks send their dogs after the woodchucks, and I’ve even heard of homeowners shoving garden hoses into burrows to drown or flush groundhogs out. It’s pretty messed up, and this is coming from someone who just had the crap scared out of him by a groundhog living in his engine bay — a groundhog that has wreaked havoc on the car’s wiring, taken a dump on its engine, and even set a trap of its own — one that could have set my car on fire. Let me explain.

I recently returned from an utterly absurd trip to Australia (which I’ll be writing about soon), only to find that my cars have been broken into by this little bugger:

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Don’t let that cute face fool you; this groundhog is a menace.

We first met a few days ago when I went to pop the hood of my $700 Chevy Tracker. Something was amiss with my windshield wipers and one of my parking lights. Having checked the fuses in the driver’s side footwell, I figured I’d see if something was wrong underhood. Maybe the light bulb went bad and the wiper motor became disconnected or shorted somehow? I pulled the hood release at the base of the dash, walked around front, slid my hand in the crack above the radiator, and pulled the release.

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“Ahhhh!” I yelled in surprise as I spotted a full-grown groundhog right in front of my face as soon as I cracked the hood. Nestled between my exhaust manifold and fender, the little rodent quickly scurried down the space between the vehicle’s 2.0-liter “J20” engine block and frame. The animal trotted away, right into the engine bay of my brother’s 1966 Ford Mustang. Here’s the groundhog sitting behind a Holly 2300 carburetor, hiding its head under the air cleaner:

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What is it with groundhogs and engine bays? These cars had been sitting for over a month; those engines offered no warmth. I assume it has to do with the rain cover provided by the hood, and just the general coziness and quietness. Or maybe groundhogs are prolific wrenchers who love tuning carburetors and setting ignition timing, perhaps as a way to attract mates?

Either way, no matter how this little fur-ball justified its presence next to that 289 cubic-inch V8, I wasn’t thrilled about the situation. I’m generally not one to make blanket statements about entire groups, but it’s well established that groundhogs make the worst tenants. They don’t pay rent; they trash the place; and honestly, they’re really not all that polite, running away anytime I come over to say hello.

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Out of pity, I let this one hang out on that V8 until it felt like departing. I’m not even sure why I let the animal’s cuteness win me over, because it’s not like it didn’t chew up my Chevy Tracker, and it’s not like it didn’t try to set the thing ablaze, and it’s not like it didn’t leave a nasty surprise right on top of my engine.

The Groundhog Did A Number On My Poor Chevy Tracker

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The single hottest part of a car that isn’t part of the engine is the catalytic converter. Temperatures there can crest 1,000 Fahrenheit, which is why you always see “cats” with big heat shields all the way around them. Catalytic converters are known to cause brush fires, not just when they start breaking apart and shooting hot bits from the tailpipe, but also when someone drives in high grass. It’s because I knew about the dangers of catalytic converters that I found this so alarming:

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That’s a bunch of dry grass all bunched up, pressed against my catalytic convert, just waiting to go up in flames. This happened a few months ago; thank goodness my brother had noticed it before I drove away! Some rodent — presumably that groundhog — had made a nest atop my driver’s side fender, and some of that nest had fallen between my catalytic converter and the SUV’s frame.

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My brother also noticed some chewed wires going to my brake master cylinder; the wires wire led to a switch, whose job it is to turn on a dash light if there’s an issue with my brake system (i.e. a leak that could compromise brake performance). Tommy fixed those wires with a crimping tool and some heat shrink, only to then find this:

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Those are the wires leading to the cylinder #2 ignition coil. The insulation has been chewed through, and though the wires themselves aren’t too bad, a short between them would have caused the little Suzuki to have run like absolute crap.

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Speaking of crap, in addition to piling kindling against to the hottest part of my exhaust system to act as a fire-trap, and in addition to chewing up my wiring, the groundhog figured it’d leave me this lovely gift between the valve cover and intake manifold:

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That’s a steaming pile of rodent Scheisse right on top of my fuel rail. Here’s a closer look; it almost looks like the animal was trying to patch a leak. (And if that was its intention, then I thank it. But I doubt it):

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You’ll notice that, just above that excrement (likely within range of its steam-clouds) is my throttle cable, whose insulation has been chewed off. Look farther along that throttle cable, and things don’t get a whole lot better.

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This groundhog loves whatever material it is that covers that throttle cable sheath:

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It also took out a huge length of my windshield washer hose:

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No part of me wants to hurt this beautiful creature, but surely we can all agree that it deserves some level of punishment. You don’t try to set my car on fire, chew through my wiring to the point that my wipers, washers, and front parking light no longer work, gnaw through my throttle cable sheath cover, and then top it all off with a Dairy-Queen-Ice-Cream shaped dump. You just don’t do these things!

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But I think it knows it’s in trouble. Just look at that guilty face.

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PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 year ago

They’re super cute, until they start wrecking your property. Then they become *varmints*.

I do see a merch opportunity here though…how about a sticker:
WHISTLE PIG ATE MY TRACKER

Juanmi82
Juanmi82
1 year ago

Rodents are very stubborn and they do need to trim their teeth by chewing on cables, furniture, and whatever nice things they can reach (we have chinchillas at home, they like wooden and cardboard toys too, but furniture or cables that are not properly tucked are the best). You need either a rodent repellent (something professionally formulated) or a predator (an AMC Eagle or a Jaguar may do). If you decide to murder the groundhog, please do hire a professional instead of stabbing it with a screwdriver or waiting for it to die from tetanus.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 year ago

May I suggest a nice Braised Groundhog Recipe?
Recipe is here: https://www.foodrepublic.com/recipes/braised-groundhog-recipe/
😉

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

Squirrels are my most hated vermin for this type of crap. I also want to thank the a-holes that thought wire coatings made from Soy based petroleum versus good old crude were a great idea especially the ones that smell like peanut when they get warm as they transfer electrons about the place to the various module and coils, and of course fuel lines.

Ryan Dutra
Ryan Dutra
1 year ago

They like to hang out in my cars too. Luckily no chewed wires yet (I do typically move things at least once a week), but I had to outright go to battle with one that staunchly refused to leave my car. Kept chasing it back and forth from the engine bay to the rear suspension and back with a broom stick until it ran off to the other car…

One day you may start a car to find that you’ve given one a fresh tail-ectomy with the accessory drive. What a mess…

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 year ago

I usually have a groundhog or several living under my deck and my shed. I designed the foundation for the shed with groundhogs in mind, because giving them easier access works better than something that can be compromised by a few burrows. It’s a losing battle. As long as they can’t get inside the shed, I don’t mind them living under it.

One of them did chew up a control wire for the lawn sprinkler system, unfortunately. I’ll have a nice chore next year digging up the old wire and running a new one further out into the yard. That’s just life though. The groundhogs need a place to live too.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 year ago

I feel for ya. As a farmer, I have personal hatred of groundhogs. Nothing ruins a day worse than mowing a beautiful field of hay at 8mph when suddenly you hit a gigantic groundhog hop and snap a wheel spindle on the tractor. That’s happened twice to me. I’ve also broken my foot in one of their holes, and I’ve had cows get injured in them too. Between myself and a couple of my friends, we hunt about 50-60 a year. But they still keep coming.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
1 year ago

Sorry but this groundhog needs to be sacrificed to the automotive gods, thems the rules.

John Patson
John Patson
1 year ago

Why don’t you eat it? Brown it first in the pan, then microwave roast it to kill any (very unlikely) leprosis or whatever, and finish in a red wine sauce.
Might have a few PCPs from the old wiring, but I am sure you have absorbed more by playing (sorry working) with motors.

InTheBackround
InTheBackround
1 year ago
Reply to  John Patson

groundhog stew is where its at im told

Endusone
Endusone
1 year ago

I think there’s a movie about how to get rid of him…

I didn’t realize they enjoyed destroying cars and not just lawns. We have a huuuuuuuuuge groundhog in our yard and we’ve been letting him go about his business. My 2 cars are garaged, but my wife’s is usually outside. Will have to be on the lookout for any interference.

Abraham Smith
Abraham Smith
1 year ago

This animal is now the official Autopian mascot.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 year ago

A rodent killed my beloved 2010 Pilot, for me anyway. Approaching 250K, the shop discovered rodent damage to the filler neck, which would entail an entire new tank for $1,200 installed. It wasn’t a safety hazard, but without the fix, the CEL would be a chronic issue and I would likely never pass inspection.

I toyed with trying to sneak it through at one of the occasional times when the light was off, but then the power steering pump died, and that was the end. And yet—this happened during early stages of used car madness—I managed to sell the thing within a few hours by putting it on Facebook.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 year ago

David, what you need is a barn cat. Go down to the shelter, and find the meanest, most psychotic one they have. Problem solved. Just be ready to give up a car or your house if the cat decides it is HIS now.

05LGT
05LGT
1 year ago

I used to have garage mice and a lawn gopher. My cute shelter kitty is roughly terrier sized now. I walk him on a leash. One evening we chased a gopher down the street, but I couldn’t run fast enough. I haven’t seen sign of or caught a mouse since he got garage access, and the day of the chase was the end of lawn damage.

niceladybadjeep
niceladybadjeep
1 year ago

Time to start baiting your neighbors cars

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

You’re back? What happened with Cactus?!?!?!

C’mon DT, don’t leave us hanging!

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

any cats around?

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
1 year ago

I think the solution is to build some place for him to hang out that’s even more comfortable than the inside of your cars. Something like a rabbit hutch but with an open doorway. Or maybe based on one of the designs for feral cat shelters.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
1 year ago

Just sacrifice a car and let it become the groundhog’s home. Get rubber hoses from the junk yard and feed it regularly so it won’t feel the need to move.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago

Sounds like he should have held on to that Kia Rio (or was it a Spectra?).

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 year ago

I use windex on my trash bags because the ammonia repels raccoons and other animals. Pure ammonia would work even better, but windex is always readily at hand.
Maybe a few cups of windex underhood would be an effective deterrent.

Mike S
Mike S
1 year ago

David, try the mothballs in the car. Old school, stinky, Napthalene mothballs like Great-Aunt Gladys keeps in her coat closet. Anytime I store a car for longer than a week, it gets half a dozen inside and stop the engine. Been doing this since ‘97 when some mammalian friend chewed out a porterhouse- sized wad from the under hood insulation on my Caprice. Has worked like a charm since. Good luck 🙂

Henry Smith
Henry Smith
1 year ago

I’ve unfortunate had many horrible interactions with ground hogs. For years when I owned a 76 VW T2 I had to replace my break lines every spring because all four would be chewed through.

Also the first night I owned my Model A I came out in the morning to find that the floorboards of my car had been chewed through is several places.

I hate ground hogs and porcupines!

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

It’s a rat in a better looking suit. A spider told him that you’re kind to animals.

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
1 year ago

And I thought I was having fun dealing with a rabid raccoon out front of the house on Thursday.

Turkina
Turkina
1 year ago

Wait a second, are you the same David Tracy who used to work for that German lighting company? The same David Tracy with German parentage, and wrote an article warning about the scourge of Marders on German automobiles? And you were surprised by this? Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Make an example for future groundhogs, porcupines, and weasels to stay away.

https://jalopnik.com/how-cute-ferret-like-animals-cause-germany-65-million-1788013196

They see me Corollin
They see me Corollin
1 year ago

A rat got under our cx5 engine cover and ate ignition wires and shredded the insulation. I now use an anti rodent spray in the area… I like to think it works? It certainly smells bad enough.

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
1 year ago

Aww, he looks like one of my guinea pigs. Thankfully they would never chew up vehicle wiring, being good boys. They’re picky about what veggies they’ll eat and seem to be afraid to leave their cage so I’ll never have to worry about them running off to ruin people’s cars.

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