There are many stories of squirrels storing nuts in vehicle engine compartments, or mice making a home in trunks, and even stray kittens curling up under the hood to stay warm. Some of these incidents can cause damage to your car.
How and Why Rodents Enter Vehicles
Mice and other animals are extremely nimble and flexible and can fit into very small spaces. Rodents can squeeze through entry points that seem impossible. They might enter through air-intake vents, pedal shafts, the steering column, or squeeze between other parts and components.
Animals are more likely to seek shelter in a parked car when the temperatures drop, and the weather is bad. So, we often see more of these little invaders in the fall and winter months. It is also more common for nocturnal animals to be found inside a car.
Hazards Caused by Rodents
Though they may seem harmless, these little critters can cause a lot of problems for car owners. They can cause an accident if they frighten or distract the driver while the car is in motion. But, even in a parked vehicle, rodents are not welcomed guests.
- Chewing-Rodents are known for using their sharp teeth to chew through any number of materials. Inside a vehicle, they may chew right through electrical wires, hoses, seat fabric, and plastic components. This can be a real problem and may require a mechanic to repair the damage. Animal damage is also a common source of faulty electrical problems, which may lead to vehicle fires.
- Nesting-Car owners may find evidence of an invader in the form of nests. Rats and mice create nests in materials like carpeting, upholstery, air filters, and liner insulation. Sometimes rodents, and even cats, seeking a warm place to sleep will curl up near the car’s engine compartment or heater blower when it’s still hot. This can end tragically for the animal if the car starts moving before it has time to escape.
- Droppings-You may not know that you have an unwanted resident in your car until you find droppings inside your vehicle. Mice and rats defecate and urinate wherever they go. It is advisable to get your vehicle thoroughly cleaned inside to eliminate any additional issues.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Your Car
Here are several recommendations to prevent furry critters from infesting your auto:
- Park or store the vehicle in a garage whenever possible.
- Avoid parking near tall grass or thick vegetation.
- Avoid parking close to food sources, such as dumpsters, bird feeders, and pet food storage.
- Shut the windows overnight.
- Don’t store food inside the car.
- Vacuum carpets regularly and keep the inside of the car clean and clutter-free.
- Knock on the hood of the vehicle before starting the engine to scare away any animals that might be sleeping there.
What to Do if You Find Evidence of Rodent Activity
If you have already found droppings, nests, or chewed items in your car, it’s a good idea to act fast. Here are the steps you should take:
- Open the car completely and let it air out.
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces and vacuum.
- Move the vehicle away from any tall grass or thick vegetation.
- Set traps around the car and leave the car parked overnight.
- You can also try placing packets of cedar chips around the car. This scent is a natural repellent for rodents. Other household items that might work as rodent deterrents include cayenne pepper, dryer sheets, and peppermint oil.