Wildlife-proofing your car's electrical wiring. Also, Mitsubishi Diamantes.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have been reading your wonderful column for sometime now, and finally have a problem that I think is up your alley. My 1989 Subaru Justy (please stifle your laughter--I love this little car) was devoured by wild animals (squirrels, raccoons, or skunks) twice while parked in my driveway. By devoured, I mean that the entire electrical system was munched away on two separate occasions. After the first disaster, I was towed into Subaru and the car was repaired. The night I brought it home, they attacked it again with a vengeance, gnawing through belts, hoses, etc. The head mechanic at Subaru said they clearly were angry that I had fixed it, and were teaching me a lesson. This problem was eventually solved (after many $$$$) by spraying bitter lemon--purchased from a feed store--all over the wires and hoses. My question is: Why did they not dine on my husband's Buick which was parked right next to my Justy? And why did they not eat the rent-a-car, which was also a Buick, that was parked in the driveway between the two incidents? Are these Japanese squirrels? What's going on?

RAY: I think you need to post a sign next to your car, Gail. It should read: "Wouldn't You Really Rather Gnaw a Buick?"

TOM: Actually, Gail, we have no idea why they went after your Subaru. Maybe the wires Subaru uses are particularly tasty to these little varmits?

RAY: Or maybe you're just getting home at the wrong time. Your engine may be the perfect, cuddley, warm temperature at just the time of day when these creatures are looking for a place to relax and snack on some cable.

TOM: But whatever the cause, it sounds like the bitter lemon did the trick. And I'm sure we have other readers with gnawed wires who are on their way to the feed store as we speak.


RAY: You probably don't know much about the Mitsubishi Diamante. But if you're ready for a car that's a step up from the Camry, Accord and Taurus, you ought to go look at one.

TOM: We don't know why it's such a well kept secret. Maybe Mitsubishi doesn't want to sell too many of them? Maybe they're too busy building cars for Chrysler?

RAY: They should sell more Diamantes, because it's really a great car to drive. It's big enough to fit five people, but when you drive it, you have the feeling you're driving a sports car. I happen to really like the looks of it, it's great on the highway, it's well put together, and it starts at about $22,000.

RAY: I guess one of the reasons they don't sell more Diamantes is that the Mitsubishi dealer network is not all that strong. And that's one of the possible drawbacks of owning one. In some parts of the country, you may have to resort to aerial photography to find a dealership. But if you have a Mitsubishi dealer with a good reputation in your area, the Diamante is a terrific car at a good price.

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