As cold weather approaches, rodents like mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels take shelter wherever they can, perhaps even in your car.
AAA automotive technicians say rodents will take up residence under the hood of a vehicle to get out of the cold, snow and wind. And because some car parts are made from renewable resources, such as soy-based wire coverings or body insulation made of natural products, you may end up looking at expensive repairs, near catastrophic damage, malfunction and even fires.
Why Would a Rodent Want to Hiberate Under The Hood?
AAA technicians say they typically see this type of destruction more frequently as the weather gets cooler, especially if a car is not regularly driven. “Gnawed wires cause all sorts of electrical problems, including engine no-starts. Unfortunately, the cost to make repairs can run into hundreds of dollars and is not always covered under the owner’s new car warranty or car insurance,” says Sue Madden, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“Rodent damage is not something a car owner would think of needing protection from, however, our technicians have seen enough cases to say it’s a problem.”
So What Can You Do?
AAA technicians advise that you not park a seldom-used car on the street or in a driveway, but if you must there are ways to limit rodent infestations.
If you have to park a seldom-used car in a driveway or on the street, be sure to start and drive it from time to time. This can chase away mice that might be hibernating under your hood and help keep the battery charged.
While some people advocate using moth balls or pepper spray under the hood, fumes from these products are unhealthy for humans as well. Alternatives include cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, or more conventional measures such as mouse traps, poisons and ultrasonic repellent devices. A number of non-toxic, plant-based rodent repellents are also available, and copper screening (not plastic or other metals) can be used to seal off air intake openings because rats don’t like its taste.
Keep in mind that what works for one motorist may have no effect for another. Many people fighting this problem try multiple approaches simultaneously. Here is an abbreviated list of some strategies that others have found to be successful:
- Clear away hiding places
- Clear away food sources
- Use bright lighting- open hood
- Use traps
- Use strong smelling substances
- Block entryways
- Use electronic devices
- Do not let vehicle sit unused