Mechanic feeling more like exterminator as idle cars attract critters

WELLESLEY, Mass. — Parked cars left undriven for weeks at a time during the pandemic have led to an increase in the number of critter-related trips to the mechanic as people prepare to head back to work, a local mechanic told Boston 25 News this week.

Mice, chipmunks and squirrels have all been known to take advantage of an idle car and take up residence inside, said James Quinlan, owner of Quinlan Automotive Inc. in Wellesley. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many people to stay home for weeks at a time without turning over their car’s engine, which emboldens and creates additional opportunity for the critters to wreak havoc unnoticed, he said.

“Once you get into where an animal started to eat a wiring harness, this is where it gets really tricky because they could have been in 10 or 15 different spots that we may not be able to see,” Quinlan said of the majority of his customers’ recent service visits. “So, we'll go in and we'll scan the car for a code. We'll address that immediate problem, fix it; but there could be six feet back in the car that the animal had already begun chewing and the damage [becomes] evident later on.”

Quinlan recommends taking a short drive each day, even if it’s just for a mile or two. That could save a lot of money on critter-related repairs, as well as continue charging the battery to prevent avoidable expenses there too, he said.

This echoes similar advice offered by AAA’s so-called Car Doctor in a Boston 25 News report back in April.

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