When it comes to vehicle damage, we’re all accustomed to car crashes and weather-related misfortune. But what if we told you there is another culprit responsible for your car’s electrical issues, and they’re sitting on your bird feeder at this very moment. That’s right, we’re talking about squirrels and other household critters. While they might seem harmless to you, that isn’t always the case with your car. If they get under your hood, a squirrel, rat, or mouse can wreak havoc on your vehicle. We’re putting a special emphasis on squirrels (arguably the biggest wire-chewers), but here’s how to stop rodents from chewing car wires, belts, and hoses.
Why Do Rodents Target Your Car?
Of all the places they could go, why do squirrels choose to camp out under your car’s hood? Well, there’s a good chance they’re creating a nest to have babies, according to the Toronto Wildlife Centre, and rodents relish the opportunity to hang out under the hood next to the warmth of a car’s engine. In addition to the warmth your vehicle provides, your car is also full of wires for them to chew until they’re content. Squirrels have constantly-growing front teeth, according to National Geographic, so they love gnawing on just about anything they can get their teeth on. Other rodents, like rats and mice, also have always-growing teeth, meaning they’re also not afraid to chew on your car’s belts, hoses, or wires.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Car Engine Area
If you’re worried about rodents taking up residence under your car’s hood, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you have some ways to keep them from calling your vehicle home. Here’s how to rodent-proof your car:
- Park inside a garage and seal it: While parking in an enclosed garage should provide some protection, it’s important to make sure you don’t have any holes where a rodent can sneak in undetected.
- Place traps in your garage: If you’re worried about mice or rats getting inside your garage, place some traps around the room. They’ll have a hard time resisting the tasty snack.
- Use rodent repellents: If you run a Google search for rodent repellents, you can find different solutions that keep squirrels, mice, and rats away. CARFAX notes that solutions using peppermint, cloves, and cayenne pepper seem to do the job.
- Get rid of the garbage in and around your car: Make sure to keep your car and the area around it free of food scraps, garbage, and anything else that a rodent might enjoy. That could attract them to your car initially.
How to Get Rid of a Rodent Infestation
Already have rodents living under your car’s hood? Don’t worry. There are ways you can scare them off. The Toronto Wildlife Centre has suggestions for the “humane harassment” of squirrels that should be able to be applied to other rodents. The recommendations include:
- Popping the hood: Leaving the hood open for a few days should take care of any rodents attempting to hide out. Being exposed to light, sound, and foot traffic should scare any critter away.
- Add light & make noise: Rodents don’t want to hear human voices or be exposed to lots of light. Put a fire-safe light under the hood and turn on a talk show if you have a TV or portable radio in the garage.
- Use a repellent: Soak rags in one of the anti-rodent solutions we mentioned above. Place them around the hood to drive the squirrels or rats away.
The Toronto Wildlife Centre also notes you want to be gentle in your attempts to scare squirrels away. If they are nesting, being too aggressive could lead to you orphaning a set of baby squirrels.
Does Car Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Rodents?
If a pesky rodent does get under your hood and cause damage, will you be stuck paying for the damages, or does your auto insurance cover the cost? Well, it depends on what types of coverage you have. With only liability insurance, you’ll likely be on your own paying to repair or replace any frayed wires or chewed-up hoses since this type of coverage only pays out to other people in an accident, not you. However, comprehensive coverage (often called “other than collision coverage”) generally covers the cost to repair or replace parts damaged by animals, as well as damage caused by theft and many natural disasters. If your policy covers rodent damage, you’ll just have to meet your deductible, and then your coverage should kick in to pay for the remaining damages.