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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

Ok, here is the story and a few questions. Yesterday my wife was driving down the road and her ABS light began to flash. Shortly there after she noticed the air was not working and the airbag light came one. Next she heard a loud pop and said the whole car shuttered. She described this as much worse than a car that is having problems getting gas, almost like hitting something. She said all of the dash lights came on and then went off and on a few times then they finally went dark. At this point the gas petal was no longer working but the car was still running so she took it across a ditch and into a parking lot. She also said she had a lot of trouble getting it into park from neutral. She tried pushing the breaks and moving the shifter back and forth several times before going into park. When I arrived to check it out nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I raised the hood. After doing so I noticed teeth marks on the alternator cable and after looking a little more it appears that a rat has decided to chew almost every wire on the engine. I suspect ABS and airbag sensors were chewed as well. There is the hint of spilled fluids in a few placed in the engine bay as well. I can’t find any damage in the cab. Also, I had to have the car towed and the idiot who picked it up decided to try to start the car to drive it onto the truck. You would think a tow truck driver would realize that if the car would drive I wouldn’t need a tow! Anyway, he did start it and drove it half way up before it “started backfiring like a firing squad” and died. He said he couldn’t get it into park at that point but was able to put it into neutral. When they unloaded it my wife had to back it down in neutral and was able to get it into park. The key absolutely will not come out though. Insurance is going to pay for it and I have an adjuster coming out sometime today or early next week. So, I have several questions. First, what other concerns would you all have? Second, what questions/comments would you want the adjuster to know, other than what I already described? Third, how much do you think it would cost to rewire, basically, the whole engine, headlights, tranny, etc.? I plan to have it towed to the closets Subaru dealership (a hour and ½ away) to have them do the work. My real concern is that the car will never be the same and will have many electrical issues for the duration of its life. I’m worried that with all the shorts the computers could have been damaged or a ton of other things. Thanks in advance for the help!
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT 5 speed manual.
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If insurance is taking care of it, it can't be more than 70% more than the total current worth of the vehicle, or at least that is usually the case.

The cost of the wires and the labor of going through all aspects of the vehicle looking for holes would be costly. I couldn't guess at the actual cost but $2000+ is what I'd assume.

Your insurance company should take care of you, and the dealer should guarantee their work. If something is shorted out or chewed, I'm sure they'll go over it with a fine tooth comb and fix it and that it should be fine once completed.

My concern would be where did the rats come from, and can you prevent it from happening again? Have you visited the countryside lately? Have you talked to neighbors to see if they've had similar issues? I'd be setting some pet friendly rat traps of some sort under or around the vehicle for the next little while.
 

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2009 Forester XT 4EAT
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It may not have been rats. Roughly about 9 or 10 months after my best friend purchased his 2004 Ford F250 SuperDuty Diesel, the truck began idling rough, the fog lights quit, the horn would not blow and the radio quit. He drove it to the Ford dealer and dropped it off. They called him the next day and told him he would have ot see it for himself. Apparently a squirrel had been knawing on the wiring harness.
They had to replace the entire wiring harness (new from Ford) which was about $1800 plus labor. On that diesel the squirrel cost him a total of just under $4K. They did say he was lucky in that the harness pulgged into a "bulkhead" on the firewall and they did not have to make any splices, just disconnect and reconnect a few hundred wires.
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT 5 speed manual.
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It's fairly common in some areas, mostly colder climates, for animals, usually rodents to nest in warm engine bays. While there they sometimes tend to chew on wires for some reason or another. I've read accounts of this happening on many forums in the past as well.

I know they sell sprays that you could spray some components with.. it's like a tart lime taste that the animals can barely stand to smell let alone bite. That may be one route you could go if you're concerned.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice. I am currently searching for methods to prevent any future issues. So those ideas are much appreciated. A squirrel actually makes way more sense. We have tons of those, but never really had a rat problem. I live in the country, south Mississippi actually. I can't for the life of me conceive why any animal would want to be under the hood of a car in the heat of summer here. Anyway, it is a relief to hear that how ever this goes I shouldn't have to worry about the car's functioning. Thanks again!
 

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You can get this at HomeDepot

Havahart 32 Oz. Ready to Use Critter Ridder Animal Repellent Spray
Model # 3145 Internet # 100549772
$17.97/EA-Each

Ready-to-use repellent that repels skunks, groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons, dogs and cats by odor and taste. One application lasts up to 30 days and contains three types of pepper: Oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin. Critter Ridder® liquid is safe to use outdoors and is not a urine-based product that may attract predators. RTU application is ideal for surface areas.

Repels skunks, groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons, dogs and cats
Covers 320 sq. ft.
One application lasts up to 30 days
Repels by odor and taste
MFG Brand Name : Havahart
 

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2004 Forester XT 5MT
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The safest option for the electrical engine harness is to replace the whole thing and not repair so you know for sure its not going to have a short. Check the local recycle yard for the harness and get a quote.

To repair the harness would take removing the harness from its wrap and inspect every wire and could cost more labor.
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT 5 speed manual.
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That's an option, but sounds like he's already made a claim through insurance.
If that's indeed the case he'll have a completely new harness. I don't see a dealer mechanic splicing a factory harnesns in multiple spots when they can just replace the thing easily enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for all the great suggestions. EvilDan was right, I have already initiated the insurance claim. I am going to make sure it's a full replacement. I couldn't stomach the level of hazard splicing could cause. The only place I would let do this work is a certified Subaru dealership.
 

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2007 Forester
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Havahart Two Door Large Animal Cage Trap
I can vouch for this trap; it's been very helpful getting packrats. I haven't needed to bait it; they happily crawl in. Unfortunately, isn't easy to put around the car; the spray looks useful for engines: Anyone have experience with that? I've just found wires chewed away in my engine, so looking for something to help mitigate it in the future.
 
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