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#1 Old 09-21-2006, 09:29 AM
Cornerman
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Mice & Air Filter

Here's a twist of a question on the effects of mice nesting in the air
filter. I just picked up a 92 Tercel for my daughter. It's got 80K
miles, and runs pretty well. No odd noises. No blue smoke. I did a
thorough break job (one leaking line, new rear shoes and turned drums,
unstuck caliper slides), and put her (the little car) on the road. I am
stunned how well this 14 year old car runs.

We noticed that there was an aweful lot of pine needles and some pine
pitch on the car, as well as some under the hood, so we figured it had
been parked for a few months. It had a passing Massachusetts inspection
in February, so at the very least, I know it ran then, and ran well
enough to pass inspection.

Anyway, we got around to cleaning the pine needles. And, as the title
suggests, when I took out the air filter, not only was the air filter
completely clogged with leaves and needles, but the entire air filter
housing was filled to the top with nesting. We found two mice, one
brown and one gray, quite dead. Some of the nesting was still green,
which suggests the mice had been living up until recently.

So... onto the odd questioning. How in the world did this little engine
run so quietly and smoothly without sucking air through that air
filter? It suggests that there are enough other air passages that don't
go through any filter directly into the intake. I don't see anything in
the air duct from the filter housing to the air intake that looks like
it could possibly give enough air flow without the engine gasping for
air. Instead of being elated that I found some source of a some poorly
lean running engine (which I didn't seem to have), I'm actually nervous
that the engine ran very well, despite a completely clogged filtered
air source. No dark smoke, no gas smell.

Now I'm so paranoid that I'm sure every tink and rattle are acorns
traversing their way to and through my cylinders. Oh the irony.

So, what should I be looking for to make sure I'm alright (if I'm
alright)? I suppose if I take the duct off the air intake and see
grass/leaves that far, then I could be in some trouble.

Regards,

Fred

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#2 Old 09-21-2006, 12:18 PM
Coyoteboy
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Re: Mice & Air Filter

It takes very little air to keep an engine running at low revs.
Checkout the size of your idle control valve (about 1/4 inch square on
mine) and I can tell you that on mine that can hold my revs at 2Krpm
happily up a small incline.

J

#3 Old 09-21-2006, 12:40 PM
Ray O
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Re: Mice & Air Filter


"Cornerman" <ohagnir@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1158845368.780492.119400@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...[color=blue]
> Here's a twist of a question on the effects of mice nesting in the air
> filter. I just picked up a 92 Tercel for my daughter. It's got 80K
> miles, and runs pretty well. No odd noises. No blue smoke. I did a
> thorough break job (one leaking line, new rear shoes and turned drums,
> unstuck caliper slides), and put her (the little car) on the road. I am
> stunned how well this 14 year old car runs.
>
> We noticed that there was an aweful lot of pine needles and some pine
> pitch on the car, as well as some under the hood, so we figured it had
> been parked for a few months. It had a passing Massachusetts inspection
> in February, so at the very least, I know it ran then, and ran well
> enough to pass inspection.
>
> Anyway, we got around to cleaning the pine needles. And, as the title
> suggests, when I took out the air filter, not only was the air filter
> completely clogged with leaves and needles, but the entire air filter
> housing was filled to the top with nesting. We found two mice, one
> brown and one gray, quite dead. Some of the nesting was still green,
> which suggests the mice had been living up until recently.
>
> So... onto the odd questioning. How in the world did this little engine
> run so quietly and smoothly without sucking air through that air
> filter? It suggests that there are enough other air passages that don't
> go through any filter directly into the intake. I don't see anything in
> the air duct from the filter housing to the air intake that looks like
> it could possibly give enough air flow without the engine gasping for
> air. Instead of being elated that I found some source of a some poorly
> lean running engine (which I didn't seem to have), I'm actually nervous
> that the engine ran very well, despite a completely clogged filtered
> air source. No dark smoke, no gas smell.[/color]

There are 2 parts to the answer to your question.

First, as bad as the filter may have looked, it probably was not completely
clogged. You can confirm this by wrapping the filter in a plastic film like
Saran Wrap, replacing it, and then trying to start the car. The car
probably will not run with the plastic wrap encasing the filter. An air
leak in the plastic plumbing between the air filter and the throttle body
usually causes drivability problems.

Second, the air filter's area is relatively large for a 1.5 liter engine.
Take a look at the air filter for your daughter's Tercel, and compare it
with the filter for a Tundra with a 4.7 liter engine. The Tundra's
displacement is more than 3 times the displacement for the Tercel and so the
Tundra needs rougly 3 times as much air volume as the Tercel, yet the
Tundra's air filter is not 3 times as large as the Tercel's.
[color=blue]
> Now I'm so paranoid that I'm sure every tink and rattle are acorns
> traversing their way to and through my cylinders. Oh the irony.
>
> So, what should I be looking for to make sure I'm alright (if I'm
> alright)? I suppose if I take the duct off the air intake and see
> grass/leaves that far, then I could be in some trouble.
>
> Regards,
>
> Fred
>[/color]

I would not worry too much if a small amount of grass, leaves, or acorns get
sucked into the engine because they will get burned in the engine. Take off
the plastic tubing between the air filter and the throttle and shake it out,
make sure nothing is jamming the throttle plate.

To reduce the likelihood of future critter incursions, wrap some wire cloth
with 1/4" mesh or smaller around the air intake inlet. You can use a
plastic zip tie to hold it in place.

Air filter housings are not the only place in vehicles that mice like to
nest. Mice also like heater blower housings, and if there is grass or foam
insulation coming out of the dashboard vents, then critters may have built a
nest in the heater ductwork. Look at the plastic mesh on the cowl in front
of the windshield and make sure that it hasn't been chewed through anywhere.
If it has, use the wire cloth to mend it and close off any openings,
especially near the hood hinges.
--

Ray O
(correct punctuation to reply)


#4 Old 09-21-2006, 02:10 PM
Coyoteboy
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Re: Mice & Air Filter


Ray O wrote:
[color=blue]
> First, as bad as the filter may have looked, it probably was not completely
> clogged. You can confirm this by wrapping the filter in a plastic film like
> Saran Wrap, replacing it, and then trying to start the car.[/color]

Is Saran Wrap thick? Because ive nearly ripped my fingers off trying to
stall my engine blocking the intake with my hand at idle - i cant
imagine plastic wrap lasting long?

#5 Old 09-21-2006, 03:04 PM
Ray O
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Re: Mice & Air Filter


"Coyoteboy" <coyoteboyuk@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1158862222.384414.288530@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...[color=blue]
>
> Ray O wrote:
>[color=green]
>> First, as bad as the filter may have looked, it probably was not
>> completely
>> clogged. You can confirm this by wrapping the filter in a plastic film
>> like
>> Saran Wrap, replacing it, and then trying to start the car.[/color]
>
> Is Saran Wrap thick? Because ive nearly ripped my fingers off trying to
> stall my engine blocking the intake with my hand at idle - i cant
> imagine plastic wrap lasting long?
>[/color]


Good point! Saran Wrap is pretty thin so only wrap the OUTSIDE part of the
air filter, not the inside!
--

Ray O
(correct punctuation to reply)


#6 Old 09-22-2006, 12:42 PM
Danny G.
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Re: Mice & Air Filter


"Cornerman" <ohagnir@gmail.com> wrote in message news:1158845368.780492.119400@b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...[color=blue]
> Here's a twist of a question on the effects of mice nesting in the air
> filter. I just picked up a 92 Tercel for my daughter. It's got 80K
> miles, and runs pretty well. No odd noises. No blue smoke. I did a
> thorough break job (one leaking line, new rear shoes and turned drums,
> unstuck caliper slides), and put her (the little car) on the road. I am
> stunned how well this 14 year old car runs.
>
> We noticed that there was an aweful lot of pine needles and some pine
> pitch on the car, as well as some under the hood, so we figured it had
> been parked for a few months. It had a passing Massachusetts inspection
> in February, so at the very least, I know it ran then, and ran well
> enough to pass inspection.
>
> Anyway, we got around to cleaning the pine needles. And, as the title
> suggests, when I took out the air filter, not only was the air filter
> completely clogged with leaves and needles, but the entire air filter
> housing was filled to the top with nesting. We found two mice, one
> brown and one gray, quite dead. Some of the nesting was still green,
> which suggests the mice had been living up until recently.
>
> So... onto the odd questioning. How in the world did this little engine
> run so quietly and smoothly without sucking air through that air
> filter? It suggests that there are enough other air passages that don't
> go through any filter directly into the intake. I don't see anything in
> the air duct from the filter housing to the air intake that looks like
> it could possibly give enough air flow without the engine gasping for
> air. Instead of being elated that I found some source of a some poorly
> lean running engine (which I didn't seem to have), I'm actually nervous
> that the engine ran very well, despite a completely clogged filtered
> air source. No dark smoke, no gas smell.
>
> Now I'm so paranoid that I'm sure every tink and rattle are acorns
> traversing their way to and through my cylinders. Oh the irony.
>
> So, what should I be looking for to make sure I'm alright (if I'm
> alright)? I suppose if I take the duct off the air intake and see
> grass/leaves that far, then I could be in some trouble.
>
> Regards,
>
> Fred
>[/color]


Sounds like the filter did its job well and you might be in for a pleasant surprise of improved gas mileage.
I bet its also safe to assume if there were any other problems under the hood you would have already found them.

Now comes the really scary part were you have to actually let your daughter have the keys. :)

GL
Dan



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