Beware of Mice Doing Damage To Your Vehicle

Beware of Mice Doing Damage To Your Vehicle

We had a caller to the Car Pro Show last Saturday who had a mouse chew the wiring harness on his Toyota.  He got it fixed, and within a few days, it happened again. 

As small as these little critters are, they can cause some big problems under the hood. I’ve personally seen damage from rodents that exceeds over $5,000. It doesn’t take long, either, for rodents to wreak havoc as they chew on wires, upholstery and build nests. Diseases rodents carry can be harmful to your health as well. (See the Center for Disease Controls guidance for cleaning up after rodents here and specifically how to handle vehicle infestations here.)

So, how can you tell if your car is providing shelter for rodents like mice? This list I found compiled by Erie Insurance is a good one when it comes to recognizing five tell-tale signs.

  1. Car problems:
    Unfortunately, some drivers first discover a rodent problem when their car won't start or isn't working properly. This is often caused by mice chewing through wires in the engine compartment. With so many complex electrical systems in modern cars, chewed-up wires are almost guaranteed to cause problems.
  2. Damaged upholstery:  

    If a mouse has decided to make itself a new home in your car, it will start by looking for materials to build a nest. If you find holes in your seats, missing chunks of insulation or chewed-up foam, you might have a mouse problem.

  3. Mouse droppings:
    Like any pest infestation, finding animal waste is a pretty good indicator that you have a problem. Look for tiny mouse droppings on your car's carpeting, seat and dashboard. 
  4. Bad smells:  
    If you detect foul odors coming from your car, it may be due to a pest problem. Often, drivers will first detect these smells coming from the vehicle's air vents. Mice can use the vent system as a tunnel to get from the engine bay to your car's interior. And vents often provide easy access to insulation and filter materials they can use to build a nest. 
  5. Mouse nest: 
    Finding a mouse nest is the easiest way to confirm your rodent suspicions. The first place you should look is inside your car's airbox (that's where the engine air filter is located). Mice love this location because it's warm and protected from the elements. Open the box and look for signs of rodent freeloaders. The area should be empty and relatively clean, so it will be evident if there's a nest inside. You should also check under your car's plastic engine cover if it has one. 

Source:  Erie Insurance 


Ok. You’ve done some reconnaissance work and determine you do indeed have unwelcome rodents making a home out of your vehicle.  Erie Insurance also suggests a few ways for getting them out:

  • Turn up the heat.
    Just like humans, mice don't like extreme temperatures. Roll up your car's windows and park in the sun on a nice day. Or blast the heat in the car for a few minutes. All that heat may convince the mouse to move out.
  • Honk the horn.
    Loud noises, like honking your horn, may scare a mouse of its new home in your car.
  • Use repellent.
    Most home improvement stores will sell several types of mouse repellents you can place in and around your car. Many people have also had success using cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil.
  • Set mousetraps.
    Mousetraps aren't only useful for keeping mice out of your house. Setting traps in or under your vehicle can also help protect your vehicle from unwanted visitors.
  • A CarProUSA radio show listener swears that spraying deer urine around the engine compartment acts as an excellent deterrent. Deer urine can be bought at Wal-Mart.


In Closing

Check with your insurance agent to be sure, but animal-related damage to your car is covered by the optional comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy. That includes damage to your car from mice or rats. You'll just be responsible for paying your deductible.

Photo Credit: wk1003mike/