FRANCONIA, VA — Normally, when a check engine light comes on, it indicates a problem with a car’s performance. But on Tuesday, a car shop in Franconia found a stranger reason for the check engine light in a customer’s car.
Craftsman Auto Care – Alexandria, a Festival car repair shop at Manchester Lakes Shopping Centre, found three baby squirrels sleeping under the bonnet of a customer’s vehicle. The squirrels were in a nest they had built under the hood, Craftsman Auto marketing manager Asha Boone told Patch in an email.
The store contacted the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police and researched how to care for baby squirrels in the meantime. They learned that baby squirrels need to be kept warm and hydrated, so employees went to a local pet store and bought special milk to feed them.
“One of our techs, Rick, gently bottle fed them the special milk,” Boone said in an email.
Animal protection police brought the baby squirrels back to the client’s home, as the mother squirrel was probably looking for them.
As for the check engine light, it turned out that the mother squirrel of the babies had chewed through the vehicle’s wiring. The auto repair shop said it caught the problem early and was able to fix it.
According to a Craftsman Auto Care blog post, small animals such as squirrels, mice and rats can nest in an engine compartment because it offers a warm shelter. On top of that, Toyota’s transition from rubber wire harnesses in engines to a soybean compound may be a food source for these little creatures, Craftsman Auto Care said.
Another experience with small creatures involved a 2014 Toyota 4Runner brought to Craftsman Auto Care, according to the blog. The vehicle had its check engine light on and the cause was traced back to a rodent chewing through the wiring harness. Repairs were made by retracting all wiring. The auto repair shop also recommends using mace or pepper spray in the engine compartment to deter rodents.
Artisanal car maintenance is a local auto repair shop owned by Matt Curry, formerly of Curry’s Auto Service. There are locations in Franconia, Fairfax, Chantilly, Merrifield and McLean, while its new Sterling/Cascades branch opened in March.