Why do mice go in the engine bay? Other than, of course, to make our lives miserable. It’s true that it’s simply the result of their natural search for shelter and food, which our vehicles offer by the pound.
There is an explanation, though, why we’re seeing this problem more often now than ever before.
You see, cars used to be made entirely out of metal, plastic and glass. In the past 10-15 years, however, manufacturers have moved towards using more natural, biodegradable materials. Soy, for example, is used in the production of cushion foam, interior carpeting and wire insulation. While great for the environment, these turned out to be irresistible to mice and a brand new source of headaches to car-owners.
Mouse Damage To Car and Engine Compartment
So, what does happen when mice start living in our car? You’ll surely start seeing the tell-tale signs of a mice infestation, as well as the damage they leave behind.
- Nibbled plastic and padding
- Droppings, rubbish, footprints in and around the vehicle
- Chewed-up wires, leading to shortages
- Animal bacteria and dander in the air filter, leading to health hazards
- Debris and litter build-up in the engine compartment, sometimes leading to a choked-up engine
Repairing the mice damage in an auto-mobile can cost anywhere between £600 -£2,000, depending on how bad the damage to the electrical wiring is. Mice will gnaw on your wires not for food, but simply for keeping their teeth sharp and in shape. What’s innocent fun for them can turn into an exhausting and expensive visit to the repair shop.
Expenses are just one side to the issue, however. Sharing an area with rodents instantly puts you at risk of attracting viruses and diseases such as the hentavirus, sole virus, salmonella, leptospirosis and others. These diseases are transmitted through dander and excrement particles you breathe in inside the car.
It’s safe to say, if you notice any signs of mice setting up home in your car, take action immediately. The best course of action, of course, is prevention – take precautionary measures to keep them out of the car engine compartment. Here’s how!
How to Keep Mice Out of Car Engine Compartment
The engine bay is the place you least want rodents nesting in – and unfortunately, has the biggest appeal to mice. Not only is it warm, hidden and dark, but it’s also the place you’re least likely to bother them.
There’s not much you can do to change these conditions, but you can keep your car and engine compartment clean and sealed off like a fortress.
- Keep your car parked in a clean area. If your car is parked in a garage or a storage space with a rodent problem, it will be at risk. You can place mouse traps or use the scent of peppermint around your car to discourage mice from getting close to it.
- Be especially cautious in the winter and cold weather, as that’s the time your car engine compartment is most attractive to mice.
- Don’t keep food and packaging inside or near the car. Mice are exceptionally good at finding a food source, no need to make it easier for them! Sometimes all it takes is a ketchup packet to lure the mice into the car and subsequently, into the engine compartment. Be wary of where you leave pet food or birdseed, because mice and rats are known for
- Cut down any shrubbery nearby or avoid parking your car near greenery. Greenery offers a hiding place for mice and increases the odds of putting your car in the same post code with a giant family of rodents!
- Use copper wire screens to cover the openings of your engine compartment. Mice and rats despise the taste of copper and will surely not gnaw on anything made out of it. Mice get into the engine compartment most often through the air ventilation system and evaporation drain tubes. It’s also possible for a factory fault to have misplaced an important plug and to have left an opening. Smaller mice could also sneak through the hood insulation and right into the engine compartment. One of the most popular entrance spots for mice is above the wheels. Disclaimer: Please consult a mechanic before sealing any openings to the engine compartment.
- Use dryer sheets, Irish Spring soap or peppermint oil to repel mice. Place either chunks of Irish Spring Soap or cotton dipped in peppermint oil on areas where mice often nest: on the battery tray, near the heater core and anywhere in the engine compartment. Some articles might advice you to use rodenticide or mothballs, but we strongly advise against it. These chemicals have a negative effect on your health when breathed in, which you most certainly would be doing once you get inside the vehicle. Besides, you probably don’t want mice dying inside your car!
- Check for signs of mice regularly. That includes smells, sounds and popping up the hood occasionally to inspect the engine compartment for any signs of nesting, such as food stored in the air box.
- Get insurance that covers the cost of repairs. While it can never hurt to know how to keep mice out of car engine compartment, it’s even better to prepare for the worst.
Mice will rarely go into a car that you regularly clean, maintain and use. They are more likely to look for vehicles that offer easy access and are close to a place they are already inhabiting, like an old garage/storage space or nearby shrubbery.
Remember, if your car is parked most of the time that’s all the more reason to check up on it more often. Consider lifting your car on jack stands from galvanized steel (mice can’t climb steel, since there’s nothing to latch on to) to ensure full protection.
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