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how to avoid animal damage to a car engine
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BDR Automotive

Uninvited Guests Under the Hood: How to Avoid Animal Damage to Your Car Engine

The damage mice can do when they build nests in the engine compartment of your vehicle and what you can do to prevent animal damage to your car engine.

Because they are small, mice can get into your vehicle through the air inlet of the engine compartment and go directly to one of their favorite nesting spots in the airbox. Mice can also enter through open doors and windows to the interior of the car and can squeeze through vents or small openings designed for wires, cables, pedals, or the steering column.

Your engine compartment is especially attractive to rodents on chilly days and nights. They are seeking warmth or a comfy place to build a nest. More than a nuisance, mice can cause serious engine damage by chewing belts or wires. A nest located in a fan or intake manifold can ignite. Frayed wires can cause fires.

Mice don’t only select cars that have not been driven in a while. Mice, like people, seek shelter during storms, so they can arrive any time they need a place to temporarily reside.

Keep Them Out!

The National Fire Protection Association warns that almost two-thirds of vehicle fires are caused by faulty electrical or mechanical systems, often brought on by animal damage. Auto technicians report that finding animals in engines is not an unusual occurrence.

There are several physical and chemical mouse deterrents you can use to keep mice out of your vehicle.

Electronic repellents

A cordless device can be placed within the vehicle and it emits a decibel tone that mice and other animals do not like … but is inaudible to humans.

Scent repellents

Cedar wood, peppermint oil or cayenne pepper are natural deterrents. You can also try hanging mothballs under the front of the hood. Be careful not to place mothballs near the windshield washer area where the fluid is expelled, or the mothball smell will permeate the interior of the vehicle. A more humane approach than poisons, these scents are effective.

Mouse traps

Place mouse traps on the tops of your tires, as this area is the most likely point of entry into the car.

Get Them Out!

If they have already set up housekeeping under the hood, you can do several things to chase them out:

Check the car and surroundings.

Look under the hood of your vehicle regularly. Mouse nests can easily be spotted and removed. Examine the wiring and mechanical systems for signs of chewing or fraying.

Honk to scare them away.

Honk your horn before you start the engine. If your key fob has this function, you can honk from a distance. Making loud noises will help hustle them out of your car. After a minute, start the car. Mice wedge themselves into tiny spaces, so they may need some time to extract themselves and get away.

Clean up leaks.

Scan your driveway and engine for leaks. Rodents like the taste of oil, gasoline, and other automotive fluids. These leaks are dangerous to children, pets, and the environment, so it is a good idea to clean them up promptly.

Mouse Blocker.

Brian suggests the Mouse Blocker 12V Ultrasonic Under Hood mouse and rodent deterrent for BDR’s customer vehicles. He says, “This is the one we always install. We have never had one of these fail to work!”

After They’ve Gone…

Be sure to air out the car in an open area. Mouse droppings and urine can be infected by the Hantavirus, which humans can contract when breathed in. Vacuum the interior. Wearing rubber gloves and a mask, mix household bleach with water and spray the affected areas until wet. Let it sit for five minutes and then wipe with a paper towel. Sponge the areas with the bleach solution. Throw out the cleaning materials in a plastic bag, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Is there Insurance Coverage for Animal Damage?

Most incidents involving animal damage, including mice chewing on wires, are covered by comprehensive auto insurance coverage. However, not all insurance policies have this coverage.

If you have comprehensive coverage and have met your deductible, your insurance will likely help defray the cost of repair. Be sure to check with your insurance company.

Stay on the Offensive to Avoid Animal Damage to your Car Engine

Mice are everywhere. If you find traces of rodents in your car, take up the good fight immediately. If the preventatives suggested do not work and you can’t seem to get rid of these pesky critters, you may need to call a pest control business to help.

Mice can cause thousands of dollars in repair bills and possibly compromise your health and well-being. If you suspect mice under the hood, or have already seen animal damage to your car engine, give us a call right away at 508-429-4720 or contact us on our website.

Jarred McGee
Jarred is not only an amazingly competent and capable technician, he is a confident leader and source of incredible knowledge. Known for being a tireless and dedicated technician, he is always friendly and professional, always willing to go the extra mile to ensure BDR customers leave with peace of mind about their vehicle. Jarred attended Mass Bay Community College where he earned his Associates Degree in Automotive Technology. He went on to receive a Toyota T-TEN Certificate while working in Toyota’s dealership system. Jarred has also worked at an auto-body repair shop that specialized in complex high-end vehicles such as the Tesla.

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