Motormouth: Squirrels love the new Chevy Traverse, but there’s a way to stop them

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

January 14, 2019

Q: Is there something specific in the 2018 Chevy Traverse that attracts squirrels? The car had to go to the dealer twice for repairs. The last time the car was towed because the squirrels chewed the transmission harness. I have two other cars the squirrels do not touch. We had relatives with a 2018 Traverse that stayed a few days at our house. The squirrels started attacking it the next morning.

— A.Q., Plainfield, Ill.

A: Seldom do carmakers announce a recall that doesn’t involve a safety issue or an emissions issue. Ravenous rodents don’t count. The insulation on many wires is made from soybean-based compounds that squirrels (and mice and other rodents) find appealing. It is not just Chevrolets. Honda had such a problem and even developed a tape made with capsaicin — the active ingredient in chili pepper heat — to protect the wires. Amazon sells a 20-meter (65 feet) roll of Honda tape for $44.63. That should be enough to share with your relatives and then some. The tape even has images of mice with “X’s” on them.

Squirrel nesting under the hood again? Get tape

Q: While driving through Missouri (on Interstate 44) in late September, the pop-up highway signs said, “Did you check your blinker fluid?” and “One good turn signal deserves another.” We need some more catchy phrases to get drivers’ attentions.

— S.B., Wadsworth, Ill.

A: There are others. We recently saw “Keep your head out of your apps” and “Santa’s coming. Have you been a good driver?” In Illinois, one reportedly says, “The holidays can be stressful, slow down.” Many states are getting into the clever highway signs act. Most welcome suggestions from the driving public.

Q: The warning light on my tire pressure indicator lit up at 62,000 miles on my 2012 Hyundai Elantra. Cost to replace one is $130, but they told me two were out. I don’t feel I need them and would like to have them disabled. Can I do that?

— P.M., Grayslake, Ill.

A: You do not have a choice, maybe. In several states that have mandatory vehicle safety inspections, the car will not pass if the TPMS light is glowing. Yet, there is currently no law in most states requiring TPMS sensors be replaced if defective or if their batteries die, which can be anywhere from five to 10 years. Illinois does not have annual safety inspections, but the sensors are a worthwhile safety feature.

Q: A couple of months ago I purchased a 2018 Toyota RAV4. Recently, I noticed that the speedometer indicates that the car’s top speed is 140 miles per hour. I am assuming that this is only there as a subtle reminder to never allow a teenage boy to drive the car any long distances without a mature adult in the car. For what other reason would it be there? Who, why, where and when would anyone drive a RAV4 at anywhere near this speed?

— J.K., Bolingbrook, Ill.

A: No matter how much you flog it, your RAV4 will never reach 140 mph. It will probably top out way before 100 mph. Part of the reason for the display is marketing. Despite being a measly crossover, the driver may get the impression that it performs like a Porsche. Another reason is the cost savings of installing a speedo that ends up in other models in the company’s lineup. And the fact that the needle is about the midpoint when cruising on the highway acts as a psychological cruise control.