WINDSOR, Colo. --A Windsor man is out hundreds of dollars after squirrels broke into his car three times in a matter of weeks. Each time, the squirrels chewed through wires that left him unable to drive his Jeep.
Gary Seago says he first noticed the problem toward the end of November.
"I started it up and it was going 'chug, chug, chug' and I thought something's wrong," said Seago.
Seago took his car to the shop and learned a fuel injector plug was chewed in half. Mechanics told him the culprit was likely a squirrel. Many tubes and wires in vehicles are soy-based, which can attract rodents.
The squirrels didn't stop there. The following morning, Seago says the exact same part was once again chewed. And weeks later, they were able to destroy an even more expensive part under the hood.
"It's like they weren't going to stop doing it. They were going to continue to try to make a home of my Jeep," said Seago.
Seago has had to find a way to fund the squirrels' expensive habit. The repairs have totaled roughly $700. Living on a fixed income and without full car insurance, Seago says he can't afford another repair.
"I have doctor's appointments and things I need to go to and I can't be without transportation," said Seago.
He has tried a number of tactics to keep the rodents away. Seago placed moth balls under the hood and also installed a device that uses high-pitched noise and strobe lights to keep them away. He says the deterrents seem to be working, but worries they won't fix the problem permanently. Seago says his neighbor is also experiencing a similar problem.
"It isn't like they're going to do it once and you get your car fixed and everything is OK. Obviously, they continue to get into wherever they can and be destructive," said Seago.
Seago isn't the only one dealing with car issues caused by squirrels. John Taylor, who lives in Parker, reached out after hearing Seago's story.
Taylor says the rodents caused thousands of dollars to his brand-new Hyundai Tucson.
"I was out on a fishing trip and my wife called me and said all the lights on the dash came on. It was just going haywire," said Taylor.
After taking the car to the shop, Taylor learned something chewed through almost every wire and tube under the hood. The estimate was nearly $8,000 for repairs. Taylor says his insurance covered the damage, but he's now taking steps to keep the squirrels away.
"I come out just about every two nights and spray the tires and around the car," said Taylor.
Rodent damage is a common problem for local auto shops.
"We've seen it where the rodent is actually still in the car or they'll be dead," said Hannah Pelletier, owner of Davis Repair.
Pelletier says rodents are often drawn to cars in the colder months while looking for a place to stay warm. Many wires and tubes in newer vehicles are also covered in a soy-based coating that attracts the animals.
She recommends using moth balls, peppermint oil or a repellent spray to keep rodents out of your vehicle.