Winter Pests: Keeping Rodents out of Your Vehicle

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Auto Body, Automotive, Car Care, Car Maintenance, Driving, Pest Control, Winter Driving | Posted on 23-10-2013

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Does anyone remember Klondike Kat anymore?  His motto was:  “Klondike Kat always gets his mouse!”  Of course, he never did, but many of us could use a mouse catcher for our cars this time of year.

As the weather turns colder, rodents like mice and even rats look for warm places to nest and get away from the elements, and many find cars to be an ideal option.  Vehicles tend to be warm, dry, and full of little places to hide from predators.  Unfortunately, once these animals get inside, they tend to do a lot of damage.

A common hang out for these pests is under the hood, and they like to get inside things like the air filter housing, where they will chew up the filter to make nesting material.  Small animals will also go under the hood insulation, often dragging food along with them, like dog food, bird seed, acorns and walnuts.  If they don’t have food to bring along, they may feast on the wiring in the engine compartment and wreak havoc on your ability to drive the car.

Rodents can find their way inside the car, as well.  They typically can enter through the ventilation system, and love to nest near the heater fan, which is generally located behind the glove box on the right side of the dash, nearby or directly above the heater core.  The heater core stays warm long after you leave the car and have turned off the engine, making this spot an ideal nesting area.  These critters pack food and nesting material inside the fan blade, which looks similar to a hamster wheel, and throw the blade out of balance, causing noise and vibration during operation.  Other problems stemming from this include blocked vents, which impedes airflow, as well as complications from chewed wiring.

Mice_Fan_Compartment

Now, it’s bad enough to think about mice living in your vehicle, but it can get worse:  they can die inside the engine compartment or vehicle, as well.  Whether these bothersome tenants meet their demise trying to escape fan blades, chewing electrified wires, or otherwise, the outcome remains the same. The often hard-to-find remains can be foul smelling and continue to contribute to the aforementioned problems. Finding the culprit and eliminating the damage and the odor can be difficult and expensive.  How big of a problem is this?  We have seen damage over $10,000 caused by rodents.  And we see about one vehicle per week during the warm months with a problem, and sometimes 4 or 5 per week when the weather turns cold.  Fortunately for some owners, comprehensive insurance usually covers the cost of repairs (see your agent for coverage).

 

The best solution to this problem is to avoid the problem in the first place. Below are several tips that should help prevent rodents from exploring your chariot.

 

  1. Don’t store pet food or bird food in a garage or outside unless it is in a tightly sealed, mouse-proof container.  Food attracts rodents, and they will take that food into your car.mice-dryer-sheet
  2. Depending on how you feel about trapping, killing, or poisoning mice, the best way to keep them out of your car is to keep them out of your garage.  Setting traps or poison baits are one way, but moth-balls strategically placed in a garage (away from children and pets) can also be effective.
  3. Many boat and RV owners will stuff fabric softener sheets into compartments when the vehicles are put into storage.  Placing Bounce fabric softener sheets in the glove box, under the seats and even inside the hood insulation may keep mice away.  There is the added benefit of that fresh laundry smell, too!mice_vacuum
  4. Throw away garbage in your car.  Those dropped French fries between the seats are attractants to animals.  Keeping the interior clean will help keep the mice away.
  5. Get a cat!

 

 

A little prevention can go a long way to protecting your car from invasion this fall and winter, and can potentially save you from costly cleaning and repairs.

Cat-and-Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Matt Jones – Smart Motors Service Manager

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