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Keeping Critters out of Your Engine

If you park your car outside in a forested or rural area, you’ve probably had all sorts of experiences with rats, mice, and other sorts of rodents. While they may just seem annoying, these pests can nestle under your hood and into your engine block and do thousands of dollars worth of damage (or in extreme cases, even total a brand new car from the inside).

Why it happens

Rats and other rodents are just like any other animal, they’re looking for a warm, safe place to sleep. A newly parked engine, flush with residual heat which is insulated under the hood, is the perfect place for these rodents to call home. This is most prevalent during the colder months or in areas where the nights get chilly and these animals feel the biggest need for shelter.

What they do

Once under the hood, these rodents quickly chew through insulation and create nests, which can ignite and catch fire, gnaw through wires, which can shut down your power and prevent your car from starting, or move into the sides of the car and do more damage beneath the panels.

This unorthodox type of damage can be difficult for mechanics to trace and repair and may stretch across many different components of your car, thus increasing the damage and the cost and time of repair.


As is the case with most issues, prevention is the surest, cheapest, and most effective way of facing this problem. Here are a few solutions.

  • Leave the hood up: Rodents are looking for shelter and heat, and if you leave the hood up they won’t get much of either and your engine block becomes much less appealing. That being said, this solution can be impossible for many based on location, weather, etc.
  • Block entrances: Rats will climb up the tires to get into the your car, so putting traps or blocks in those areas can help block off points of entry.
  • Remove rodent habitats around your car: Rodents often live in the brush or small crevices. Clearing these sorts of areas out from around your car can prevent the rats from getting close enough to nestle in your car in the first place.
  • Make it smell bad (for rats): There are a number of different smell deterrents for rats. They range from peppermint oil, to cat litter, to Pine-Sol, to laundry dryer sheets, to even coyote urine. These items placed around your car can make the area so smelly for rats that they won’t want to spend their time there.
  • Traps: Lastly, traps will be needed if you’re too late and the rats have already gotten in. But hopefully you won’t get to that point.

As the temperature drops into the fall and winter seasons, make sure you’re protecting your car from potential rodent damage. After all, a fresh rinse from Mobile Car Wash won’t do you much good if your car won’t start.