It’s Spring in Monterey and Mother Nature can’t seem to decide if she wants us to enjoy the sunshine or a nice warm blanket. While you are snuggling up inside with a warm cup of cocoa, your car may be the victim of vandalism! Not the sort of vandalism that happens by the human hand though. No, the culprits are these tiny little critters we call mice or rats! They too are looking for a warm place to build their nests and as a benefit they get a gourmet meal of wiring harnesses and vacuum hoses. Yum!
I hope that you are not one of these unsuspecting victims of rodent damage to your car but beware, it is happening all over the peninsula and it seems to be an epidemic. Over the years, I have seen many cars and trucks come in with electrical issues related to damage to the wiring harness due to rodents. The repairs can be somewhat inexpensive if caught in time BUT some of these repairs can be upwards in the thousands of dollars to repair.
Recently, we have seen an increase in vehicles with signs of rodent debris in the engine compartments or heating and air conditioning ventilation system. I thought it would be a great time to write about it to give you a few tips to potentially prevent or at least slow down the process of this happening to you.
There are a lot of tricks that you can try if you find that your car has fallen victim to these rodent’s prey. To start with, make sure that your Certified Automotive Technician (C.A.T.) is watching out for signs of nests. Mice love to build nests, not only from grass and twigs and leaves, from your under-hood insulation. It seems that their favorite places tend to be in the Air Cleaner box, in the engine compartment often under the intake manifold and also in your ventilation system. Although they may decide not to nest there, doesn’t mean that they are not enjoying the buffet of wiring in your engine compartment. Many newer vehicles have changed their wiring harness casing to a soy based product and sadly, the mice think it’s filet mignon!
So, what can you do? Well, if your car sits inside a garage you can prop the hood open when you are not driving it, the extra air flow may keep them from staying snuggly warm in the engine compartment. If your car sits outside there are some interesting products that you can try. We have customers that have tired different products and some have more success than others with different styles of deterrents. There is a rodent-deterrent tape that is treated with a spicy capsaicin. We have used a product that is made up of a variety of herbs and it comes in small sachets that you can place strategically throughout your engine compartment. The combined scents from the sachets is displeasing to the critters and they tend to stay away. I have also seen a small electrical device that can be installed in the engine compartment that gives off an electrical current that will apparently keep them away from your car too.
Even with trying these tactics there are a few things to think of when it comes to your cars ventilation system. If a rodent were to get into your heating and air conditioning ventilation system it can become a health hazard for you and your passengers. Normally when they get into the ventilation system they bring in dirt and debris and they also risk getting trapped and expiring. All of this debris leads to bacteria that comes directly into the passenger compartment of your car or truck. Be sure to have your cabin air filter inspected and replaced as often as needed and it’s a good idea to have the cabin air cleaner box along with the vents sanitized and deodorized on a regular basis. Just a couple more tips, before you shut your engine off when you park, turn off your heater or air conditioner, on most vehicles this will allow the vent doors to close and will not allow any rodents to come into your space. You can also choose to have your technician install a wire mesh over areas that the rodents may be able to access.
These are all options that are safe around our family pets. If you do not have pets or pets in your neighborhood, D Con or mouse traps can be used and if all else fails, it may be time to get a cat! This is just one more reason to be sure and see your Certified Automotive Technician at least twice per year. He, or she, could keep you from having that misfortunate no start or check engine light. Happy Spring!