Frog sitting on a vehicle.

Are animals living in your car?

In News by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are animals making themselves at home in your vehicle?

As the cooler temperatures begin to creep in, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for various creatures that seek shelter in or near it.

“I’ve removed anything from mice, rats, squirrels, and their nests,” HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire Owner ST Billingsley said. “I’ve removed cats, snakes, and even a chinchilla.” 

Many critters are drawn to your car’s warmth. The normal operating temperature of engines are 220 degrees, and they stay warm for hours after the vehicle is turned off. 

Others view it as protection from predators. An owl can see a frog through a leaf, but can’t see it through metal.

Animals may also be drawn by smells.

So, it’s important to pay attention, especially right now. 

Signs of rodents

While working on vehicles, we will see indicators that a rodent has been around. These signs include nests in the air box and upholstery damage. (Upholstery is a material that mice enjoy using to build them.) 

The air box – where the cabin air filter goes – is one place they like to build nests. This can restrict the air flow to the engine. As part of the oil change service at HomeTowne Auto Repair, we do check the cabin air filter. That’s how we find those things and get them cleared up. You may be able to hear a mouse nest moving around when you turn on your blower motor. 

Another area they tend to camp out is the heating and air conditioning air distribution box behind the dash. They like to eat up the insulation for nest construction.

You may also notice mouse droppings or experience car problems.

One of our customers needed to have their Buick towed in, because it wouldn’t start. When cranking, the vehicle would begin to start and then make a weird noise. It had been sitting unused for about a month.

We got the car into the shop and discovered that the main engine harness and harness and connector to the mass airflow were chewed up.

Rodent damaged wires.
Rodent damaged wires

How to keep animals away

Having mice or other rodents can be a nuisance and lead to damage that you need to take care of. So, how can you prevent them from making your car their living quarters?

It’s a good practice to check your engine oil once a week. That’s a perfect time to check to make sure nests aren’t being formed and insulation isn’t getting chewed up.

There are a few ways you can discourage mice from getting comfortable.

If you park your vehicle in a garage, you can use a more traditional tactic – setting up mouse traps around it. (Just make a note to yourself to move them when you’re getting ready to back out.)

Mice can be driven away by the smell of dryer sheets. So you might want to try tucking them into the engine compartment. 

It also doesn’t hurt to keep your car clean. That way they aren’t attracted to the smell of empty soda cans, candy wrappers, and bags from fast food restaurants.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.