Rodents chewing through vehicle wires and cables causes thousands in damages annually. Rats, mice, squirrels and other pests are drawn to the soy-based coating on modern wiring. Once they start gnawing, expensive electrical problems follow. Here’s how to prevent rodents from wreaking havoc under your car hood.
Why Rodents Chew Car Wires
The plastic coating on vehicle wires today often contains soy or other organic compounds that smell and taste desirable to rodents. They chew right through the thin plastic to access the flavors within.
Once wiring is exposed, hazardous shorts and electrical failures can result. Chewed wires also provide access to shelter inside engine compartments and vehicle cabins for rodents.
Key rodents that damage vehicles:
- Mice – House mice squeeze into tiny spaces to shelter. They’ll chew insulation and nest in engines.
- Rats – Larger rats like Norway rats gnaw all materials including tough plastic and rubber coatings.
- Squirrels – Chew through insulation to use shedded hair for nest building. Cause extensive damage.
- Chipmunks – Often nest in quiet, parked vehicles. Their sharp teeth strip away coverings.
- Voles – Tunnel through insulation under the hood. Love to nest near engines and wiring.
Don’t let your vehicle become a snack bar and shelter for destructive pests. Take proactive steps.
Dangers of Rodents Chewing Car Wires
Rodent damage to wiring poses some serious risks:
- Fires – Exposed, frayed wires and electrical shorts can ignite under-hood fires, especially near the engine.
- Loss of control – Key systems like brakes, lights, airbags, steering and antilocks may fail due to wiring damage. Safety hazard.
- Stalling – Chewed fuel injection wires and spark plug lines cause sputtering, stalling and no starts. Strand you roadside.
- Draining battery – Rodents love to chew the plastic coating on battery cables, quickly draining the battery once exposed.
- Costly repairs – Replacing complex wire harnesses, sensors and computer modules in modern vehicles runs $1000+ in many cases.
Don’t chance these dangerous and expensive problems. Take preventive action at the first signs of rodent damage.
Signs Rodents Are Chewing Your Car’s Wires
Watch for these warning signs around parked vehicles:
- Wires with sections of missing plastic coating, showing copper underneath
- Frayed, shredded or severed wires and cables
- Strange electrical shorts, warning lights or engine codes
- Scorch marks near wiring from electrical arcing
- Greasy smudges, droppings or urine stains around the engine bay
- Strange smells from urine or dead rodents
- Nests made of shredded insulation, leaves, straw or other debris
Act promptly at the first signs before extensive damage occurs. Avoid driving the vehicle until wires are repaired or replaced.
Deterring Rodents From Vehicles
Here are some approaches to make your vehicle less inviting to nesting rodents:
- Park cars in rodent-proof garages whenever possible. Close garage doors.
- Avoid parking over tall grass, weeds, brush or mulched areas that provide rodent shelter. Use pavement.
- Eliminate exterior food sources like bird feeders, fallen fruit, open garbage, pet food bowls, etc near where cars park. Starve them out.
- Apply commercial rodent repellent sprays made for vehicles around the perimeter and wheel wells every 1-2 months. Renew after rain or washings.
- Attach mesh wire fencing or metal flashing around the base of the vehicle when parked. Block access.
- Place battery-powered ultrasonic repellers under the hood when parked. The sounds irritate rodents.
- Keep engine free of leaf litter, debris and nest materials. Periodically inspect and clean.
- Ensure the hood closes tightly with no gaps. Small openings allow easy entry.
DIY Protection Steps
You can make wires less enticing with simple DIY techniques:
- Liberally spray wires with hot sauce or other foul-tasting liquids rodents dislike. Reapply regularly.
- Wrap wires loosely with steel wool, which rodents avoid chewing through due to pokiness.
- Carefully slit lengths of PVC tubing to create sleeves. Slide over damaged wires temporarily to deter chewing. Replace with wiring repair soon.
- Apply hot, soapy water to wires using a spray bottle. This removes some of the attractive soy coatings.
- Place securely wrapped dryer sheets near wiring. Their strong scents may deter rodents temporarily. Replace monthly.
These quick steps add deterrents to protect existing wires. But have any damaged cables replaced by a pro as soon as possible.
Professional Car Wiring Repair
Don’t ignore wiring damage or attempt makeshift repairs. For safety and reliability, have professionals properly diagnose and replace damaged cables and connectors.
- Auto electricians can pinpoint which wires have been compromised based on symptoms.
- Damaged sections prone to arcing, overheating or shorts will be replaced fully.
- Entire wire harnesses may need replacement if rodent damage is extensive.
- Technicians have the tools and knowledge to reroute and splice wires safely.
- Updated wiring coatings designed to better deter rodents may be installed.
- Professionals also exclude pests and clean up any nesting debris left under the hood.
FAQs About Rodents and Cars
Here are answers to some frequent questions about deterring automotive rodent problems:
Where do rodents enter cars? Through wheel wells, undercarriage gaps, openings under the hood, vents, sunroof drains, and any other small openings. Mice can squeeze through amazingly small cracks.
What smells keep mice out of cars? Mothballs and ammonia-based cleaners have strong odors that may deter mice temporarily. But sealing access points is more effective.
Is peanut butter good for catching mice in cars? Setting small sticky traps or snap traps baited with peanut butter can help remove mice inside car cabins when parked. But exclusion is still needed.
What damage do squirrels cause to cars? Squirrels love chewing through insulation for nesting material. They cause extensive damage to wires, hoses and other vehicles parts in the process. Their large teeth can chew through most coatings.
How do you keep rats out of car engines? Seal all possible access points into the engine bay. Place traps outside to intercept curious wanderers. Homeowners may need to also clean up debris piles and outdoor food that attracts rats to the parking area.
Do mothballs work to repel rodents from cars? The strong smell of mothballs provides limited, temporary repellency against rodents around vehicles. Works best if mothballs are hung up out of reach of pets. Reapply the smelly flakes regularly. But it’s better to exclude rodents fully with repairs.
Texas Bug Control Can Help
If rodents have already damaged the wiring in your car, truck or fleet vehicles, let the experts at Texas Bug Control eliminate the culprits and prevent costly reinfestation. We provide:
- Rodent removal from vehicles
- Inspection for entry points and wire damage
- Professional exclusion and sealing repairs
- Targeted rodent deterrent installation
- Warrantied protection against recurrence
Protect your investment – contact us today for quality rodent control services for your car or commercial fleet across Central Texas. Our experts stop rodent wire chewing for good.