Do mice prefer Mazdas over Jeeps?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

Recently, I noticed my Mazda RX-7 was not accelerating properly. When I took the car into the dealership, the service manager told me that the fuel injection system was apparently stuffed with bird seed and dog food, which I keep stored in bins in our garage. Apparently, a family of mice had been using my RX-7 as a pantry. My question is this: Why did the mice choose to occupy my RX-7 instead of my husband's Jeep Cherokee, which is actually closer to the storage units? Do mice prefer Japanese imports over American-made automobiles? Oh, and also, could the bird seed and dog food have caused any long-term damage to my car?

TOM: It won't do any long term damage, Mickey. I don't think they got into the fuel injection system. The only way they could get into the fuel injectors is through the gas tank, and most mice I know would have an awfully tough time removing a gas cap. My guess is they got into the air cleaner assembly, and made it so the engine couldn't breathe normally.

RAY: If they chewed all the way through the air filter, some of their "kibble" could have gotten as far as the cylinders. But even that wouldn't cause any long term damage. The stuff would just burn up and come out the exhaust pipe as kibble-vapor.

TOM: So once you clean out the air cleaner assembly, and change the air filter if necessary, the car should be completely back to normal.

RAY: If you want to prevent this from happening again, however, ask your mechanic to cover the air intake with something called "hardware cloth." That's a heavy duty screening material with approximately quarter-inch openings. That'll allow plenty of air to get in, but should keep Mickey and Minnie from using your air filter as a luncheonette counter.

TOM: And why did they choose your car over your husband's? Look it up, Mickey. The latest issue of "Rodent and Track" gave the RX-7 far better ratings than the Jeep Cherokee.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter