Chilly days and nights prompt rodents, especially mice, to seek heat – often under the hoods of cars. Mice in your car is more than just a nuisance, it can be dangerous. Here are some tips on how to help keep mice and other pests out of your car.
The dangers of pests in cars
Their choice of shelter is not just a nuisance. When they are under the hood they might build nests or chew belts or wires. The result can cause serious engine malfunctions and even car fires. A nest located in a fan or intake manifold can ignite. Wires that are frayed from chewing can also cause fires.
Don’t dismiss this warning as something that only occurs in cars that aren’t regularly driven. Just as people seek the handiest shelter during storms, so do these animals.
The National Fire Protection Association warns almost two-thirds of vehicle fires are caused by faulty electrical or mechanical systems. Animals aren’t the sole cause of these fires but auto technicians note that animals in engines are not unusual.
Consider these strategies to make sure you protect your car from possible fires, according to automotive experts including those at AAA.
Park under shelter
If you have a garage or other vehicle-appropriate shelter, use it. Although squirrels, mice and other small animals flourish in rural areas, they are common everywhere. Save time and money by taking the extra time to park your car in a sheltered area.
Honk to scare pests away
Honk your horn before you start the engine. If your key fob has that function, you’ll be able to do that from a distance. Making loud noises will scare most mice, cats, and other animals away.
Of course, it’s important not to go overboard, lest you upset your neighbors. A few honks will do.
Wait a few extra seconds after you sound the horn before you start the car. Small animals can wedge themselves into tiny spaces within the engine and may need some extra time to extract themselves and escape.
Check your car and surroundings
Regularly look under the hood of your vehicle. Nests can easily be spotted and removed. Also, examine the wiring and mechanical systems for signs of chewing and fraying.
Scan the engine and driveway for leaks. Rodents like the taste of oil, gasoline and other automotive fluids, such leaks attract them. Leaking fluid can ignite leaves, trash and other debris in the roadway. In addition, leaks are dangerous to children, pets and the environment.
Listen for rattles. Flame-retardant materials are generally between the exhaust systems and floorboards of most vehicles. If you hear a rattle, a rodent or other animal may have loosened the materials.
If you see damaged wiring or suspect leaks, take the car for service. In fact, it’s a good idea to have mechanics check your car engine at least annually for such damage.
Don’t chance a fire. If you suspect or see a fire in your car as you drive, stop the car immediately, preferably on pavement rather than grass or other flammable materials. Turn off the ignition and abandon the vehicle. Then call for help.
Want to help prevent animals from getting under your hood? Put mothballs in fabric netting and hang it under the front of the hood. One caution: Make sure you don’t place the mothballs near the windshield washer area (where fluid is expelled) or the mothball smell will permeate the interior of the car.