Every year, mice and other critters crawl into vehicles and cause millions of dollars in damage. It may have never happened to you but ask any mechanic about “mouse damage” and they will likely have a few horror stories to tell. Bottom line: mice may look cute but unless you like torn upholstery, chewed wires, terrible smells and other damage – you don’t want them living in your car.
So, what can a car owner do? The problem with answering this question is that are there are a lot of potential solutions. Some tactics discourage them from even taking up residence in your car, and others trap or kill them once they have. For this article, we collected a number of solutions that have been known to work.
By far the best solution to keep Chip and Dale out of your vehicle is to use a deterrent that keeps them away. Here are a few techniques that are alleged to work well:
1) Moth balls (Paradichlorobenzine) definitely keep rodents out of your car but they are a poisonous substance. Some people suggest putting them in some old socks, and then placing the socks under car seats and under the hood. Just be careful that small children and pets can’t get at them.
2) Peppermint oil applied on cotton balls or small swaths of cloth will keep animals out of your car too. Peppermint oil is strong smelling and allegedly repugnant to rodents. Thankfully peppermint oil is pleasant smelling to most humans and isn’t a poisonous substance. Give it a try and see if the scent is too strong for you.
3) Human hair and animal hair. Some say they have had good results by putting human or animal hair tied in bundles under the seats and hood. The theory is that when rodents come into contact with hair, they sense the presence of “predators” and then scurry elsewhere.
4) Some people swear by using laundry dryer sheets, such as the “Bounce” brand. These sheets have a strong fragrance and can be easily stashed under car seats or other places in your car. If you try this method, replace the old sheets with new ones every few months.
6) Our friends at Reedman-Toll Chevrolet of Springfield, a local Chevrolet dealer in Springfield, PA, suggested this one: cayenne pepper! That’s right, cayenne pepper sprinkled around the vehicle and under the hood. Pepper of this type is actually used in some the commercial spray products on the market, so you know it has been proven effective.
Typical Rodent Damage – in this picture a rodent has gnawed through one wire of a Jeep wiring harness. Once opened, moisture enters and corrodes the internal copper wiring. Eventually the wire will fail. Photo Courtesy of: Don Wright, Senior A/V Technician at Concord Coachlines, Concord, NH.
Rat poisons have been around for decades and are a very effective way to kill rodents. When rats and mice eat the tasty (at least to them) little pellets, they die within an hour or so. There are two serious drawbacks with rat poisons, though. First, if a predator eats a rodent that has rat poison in its stomach, the predator will likely be poisoned too. For example, think twice about using rat poison if you have pet cats around. Second issue: if a rodent dies in some a hidden space inside your vehicle, you will be treated to a rotting cadaver smell for several weeks. (Chances are high that your passengers will complain.)
Obviously, having a family cat who has access to where your car is parked is an ideal mouse solution. Cats are excellent rodent hunters and most can easily catch several mickeys a night. Just be absolutely sure that when you go to start your car in the morning that you know where your cat(s) are. Cats have a habit of climbing up into warm engine compartments, especially when it’s cold outside, and getting entangled with accessory drive belts. If you start the car with a kitty in there, the results won’t be a pleasant.
Then of course, you can catch the little devils yourself. The first line of defense is the familiar spring-based mouse trap. These iconic devices have been used for more than a century and work quite well. Their operation is pretty simple too. Some people believe this is still the most effective method of dealing with mice and rats.
Another type of rodent trap is a “glue trap.” These devices use a thick, gluey adhesive designed not only to attract mice but to keep them stuck there permanently. Glue traps, which are widely available at hardware stores, supermarkets and many big box stores, have several advantages. First, they won’t snap on your fingers when setting them up; they are disposable; and they can catch more than one mouse at a time.
For those who would prefer less violent methods to trap their rodents, there are also humane “HavaHart” traps that capture the animals alive and unharmed. These are available in most hardware stores. After capture, be careful of releasing the little guys in open fields, though. That makes them highly visible to flying predators like hawks and owls, which sort of negates the “humane part” when they become lunch.
Yup, there are electronic solutions too. Some plug into wall sockets, some into car lighter receptacles, and there are even some solar-powered models. Every device works a bit differently but the general idea is to send out rodent-disturbing signals that keep the little guys away from your car. These signals could be high-frequency audio tones, deep vibrations, or even flashing lights. The nice advantage to these electronic devices is that they are all human and pet safe.
In this article, we have investigated many techniques to keep the rodent invaders at bay but which should you use? Well, that’s the difficult part because it all depends on your particular circumstances. Some of the variables are: the type of rodent, the climate in your area, the frequency of using your vehicle, the proximity of rodent and whether you park your vehicle inside or outside. No single tactic seems to work for everyone, but many people fighting the mouse wars have tried several techniques and found one that works for them. Some have even discovered that using a combination of two or three strategies at the same time is the best possible plan. Good luck!