Gonna try this blogging thing again like it’s 10 years ago.
I keep my car parked outside at home. It’s not a big deal for me because I’m not really a car person. To tell the truth I’m still not acclimated to how big of a deal car culture is in Southern California. My visits to the car wash are few and far between and in the past my car has taken on a freeloading arachnid passenger. This time my vehicle provided more than free rides.
My car is getting older and components and parts are starting to fail. My headlights have multiple bulbs in them and they’re starting to go. The car uses more engine oil than it used to. It’s new enough to have a handy sensor that lets me know when the engine oil is low or bulbs are out. I tend to let these notices accumulate until there is a critical mass, then I’ll grudgingly do something about it. I know, not the best way to take car of a vehicle.
It wasn’t time for an oil change yet so I set out on Sunday to buy more oil and light bulbs at the local auto parts store. I bought the oil and equipped with my paper funnel tried to pop the hood in the parking lot. Didn’t work. Pulled on the latch harder (my solution for everything) and nothing. I walked around the car a few times, muttering and finally banged on the hood a few times and tried the latch again. No dice. I headed home, defeated.
I turned to your friend and mine — the internet–once I got home. There were theories (More about this later) regarding my make and model year and the hood not opening. If they were correct, I’d need some help from professionals so I headed to the local dealer. They tried all of the tricks they knew. They banged on the hood a few times and used a plunger-thingy to try to help it open. Nothing. The mechanics stated the latch mechanism has two parts, one for each side, and that the linkage between them must be broken. They said they’d be willing to fix it but it would be expensive. My mechanic suggested a body shop that could do it for less.
I made my way to the body shop. It was busy as hell and I waited for almost an hour before I could get someone to look at my car. The Body Shop explained up front they were not comfortable because they couldn’t guarantee the hood to latch again. I explained to them that I understood, but there were some pressing maintenance issues (like engine oil) that could only be solved by opening the hood. I’m OK with taking a chance. They told me to come back the next morning (not ideal) and would see what they could do.
I went back the next day, dropped it off and went to a coffee shop to wait. The mechanic called me an hour later, told me had opened the hood and to come back. The shop workers were laughing when I walked up and told me they figured it out and the hood was fixed. I was surprised as I had been game planning on how I would get to work with a non-working vehicle.
The issue? I had a rat living in my engine.
The rat had been bringing in palm tree seeds and pods and storing them where the hood latches were and jammed them full so it wouldn’t open. The rat also shredded the engine blanket on the hood and fashioned himself a little home. There were seeds everywhere in the engine. The mechanic did his best to get most of the debris out some are just too tough to get to.
Now that the mystery was solved I had another problem. How do I prevent my rat from returning? A few days later I went to get an oil change and there was another lovely nest on the engine. I still have all kinds of questions about this. Would the rat leave when I got in the car? Would it cruise with me? If it left, where did it go? Eventually I started checking every day before I left whether it was still building nests. Every morning I would see this:
Looks comfy, right? Eventually I bought a rat trap and placed it directly under the car. This rat was too crafty for my trap and I spent weeks throwing away nests and getting rid of seeds. Eventually it gave up or died, but not in the trap. The rat lives in my memory as a comfortable, fat rat much smarter than me.