Winter is the time for critters to chew on your car's wiring, but here are some tips to stop it

Q: Had a 2011 Impala. Little snots chewed the wiring. Cost me about $400. Got lucky, and the dealer spliced new connections in. Owner of the Chevy dealership told me it was common. They would get a vehicle about two to three times a month. I bought a pellet gun the day I got home.

— G.C., Chicago

A: You’ll shoot your eye out!

Just in case you don’t, here’s a recipe you may like.

Squirrel Stew

Ingredients:

1 squirrel, cut up

Flour

Salt and pepper

2 1⁄2 tablespoons butter

7 cups boiling water

1 teaspoon thyme

1 cup corn

3 potatoes, cubed

1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne

3 medium onions, sliced

2 cups canned tomatoes with juice

Directions:

Roll the squirrel pieces in flour, salt and pepper.

Brown in butter.

Add squirrel and all other ingredients (with the exception of the tomatoes) to the boiling water, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the tomatoes, and continue to simmer another hour.

Q: I live in Wisconsin and have had the same issue with rodents (mice, chipmunks) chewing on my 2017 Prius and 2007 Jeep Cherokee. I purchased the rodent repellent tape, and when repairs were needed, I have the techs apply the tape. I have also tried Bounce dryer sheets and mothballs and cakes. All have had some success, and (knock on wood) I have not had any issues in the past few months.

— J.Z., Rural, Wis.

A: Rodents not only dine on wiring insulation, they can infest other parts of your vehicle. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) suggested:

  • Keep the Vehicle Clean: Paper, tissues and fast-food bags can quickly pile up and serve as nesting material for mice.
  • Promptly address moisture buildup: Water is a necessity for rodents to survive, so a leak in the heater or wet materials left in the vehicle will draw them in.
  • Eliminate entry points: An open sunroof or cracked window is all a mouse needs to gain entry to a car. Make sure they remain closed when the car is unattended.
  • Pay attention to the garage: Despite parking in a garage, vehicles can still be at risk for rodents. Take extra measures to ensure the garage is rodent-free by keeping trash cans covered, eliminating excess debris, clearing clutter and caulking/sealing any gaps or openings where rodents can squeeze through.
  • Check under the hood: Rodents tend to build their nests near the engine because of the warmth it generates. Routinely take a look under the hood to ensure invaders haven’t made their way in, as rodents situated here have easy access to crucial circuitry.
  • Contact a pro: Take the car to a professional automobile mechanic if a rodent infestation is suspected or found. A licensed pest control professional can assist with a rodent issue in the home.

At NPMA and its consumer educational site, www.PestWorld.org, you can find more advice on pest control.

Q: I just bought a “leftover” 2018 Lexus NX300h. I’ve owned two Toyota Priuses and one hybrid Camry, so I’m a hybrid disciple. Toyota service espoused using regular gas only in these vehicles, claiming that a higher octane would actually yield lower miles per gallon. The owners manual on my new Lexus hybrid says to use a minimum of 87 octane. I buy top-tier gas from Costco and wondered if the 87 octane was good enough for my new baby. Please advise.

— B.J., Allentown, Pa.

A: Yep, 87 octane gas is perfectly fine. Don’t waste money on higher-priced fuel.

Send questions along with name and town to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 160 N. Stetson Ave., Third Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 or motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.

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