Chipmunks and Mice Destroy Car Wires and Hijack Message Center: You Can Fix This

Updated on January 17, 2019

Too Cute to Cause Harm? Think Again.

Chipmunks might be adorable, but when it comes to chomping on the wiring in you car, they're not so cute!
Chipmunks might be adorable, but when it comes to chomping on the wiring in you car, they're not so cute! | Source

Not So Adorable Under the Hood

You may be surprised to learn that the wiring in your car, along with some of the rubber used for hoses, is actually enticing to the chipmunks and field mice that roam in your neck of the woods. According to the latest reports, while these rodents have been known to cause problems under the hood for decades, the problem has gotten worse due to some of the materials that newer cars contain.

Consumer Reports points out that chipmunks and field mice are finding some of the parts automakers are using in cars today quite appetizing. The plant-based biodegradable materials that are used in an effort to reduce waste are something the rodents can't wait to sink their teeth into.

You pay the price as your car's wiring system seems to be one of the major draws for these critters. When the message center on your dashboard starts reading out a ton of problems, you might want to open up your hood and check for signs of chipmunks or field mice.

Making a Home in Your Engine

Check out what's under your hood.
Check out what's under your hood. | Source

There's No Place Like Home

Chipmunks, field mice, and even squirrels have been known to set up housekeeping within the nooks and crannies found all around your car's engine. While there, they enjoy nibbling on the wires and the rubber hoses that run through the car engine.

With the new cars today, there is very little reason for an owner to open the hood. Decades ago, maintaining your car had you doing all sorts of things to the engine, like making sure there was water in your batteries and forever filling up the radiator.

Today, many car owners will tell you they've never laid eyes on their vehicle's engine—which is a good thing if you are a rodent. It gives them a greater chance of not being disturbed.

Chipmunks are adorable, until they eat their way through your wiring.
Chipmunks are adorable, until they eat their way through your wiring. | Source

The Bizarre Damage

Consumer Reports has a good idea about the amount of damage even one rogue rodent can do if it takes up residence in your engine. They have reported gnawed-through power steering lines, acorns in the engine intake, and nests clogging up air conditioning ducts.

Do you remember that car show that was on Saturday mornings, "Click and Clack?" They told a funny story once about a dog owner having her dog in the car with her when she put on the air conditioning. All of the sudden dog food would fly out of the vent and the dog went crazy thinking the car was feeding him snacks.

The two men who were the hosts of the show had a field day with this bizarre dog food dispenser, but this was nothing the woman did and she didn't know how this could happen. She turned to "Click and Clack" for a feasible explanation and she got one.

It seems that mice had gotten into her pet's dry dog food in the garage and had transported it into her car's engine, where it had piled up near the air condition vent. The dog liked the convenience of snacks flying around the car, but not the car owner. Her fix was to keep the dog food sealed in a tub.

Everything in today's cars is computerized, and that means there are lots of wires. When the rodents eat through the wires, your message center can light up like a Christmas tree reporting problems that might not actually be happening. It could have to do with rodents messing up your wiring system.

The Fix

It seems everyone with this problem has a quick fix, like painting the wires with hot sauce or using metal mesh to cover up the wires. We tried the mothball fix at our house. It is said that rodents don't like mothballs, so keeping a low-cut plastic tub of mothballs under the car was supposed to repel the little fellows. The only problem with this solution, however, was that we kept running over it.

There was no thought of harming the creatures, just finding a safe way to keep them out from under the hood of the cars. At one point, for an entire summer, we left a radio going all night between our two cars.

We went through a lot of batteries with that fix, and it didn't seem to bother the nighttime dwellers under the hood. This wouldn't be good neighbor-like deed, blasting the radio all night if you live close by to other houses.

Finally, our mechanic suggested an electronic rodent repellent that is installed under the hood of the car. It wasn't that expensive, and it can be found on Amazon for under $25. It is a reasonable price to pay to keep the wires and hoses safe in your car.

We've had that little black rodent repellent box installed for over a year now, and so far there are no signs of furry creatures taking up space under the hood. It just repels the creatures, it doesn't harm them.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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      2 years ago

      Small rodents, including squirrels, are extremely destructive pests. It's good to know that electronic rodent repellents really work. I'll be checking into these devices.

      A different problem with these pests is that they can carry diseases and they carry fleas and ticks that carry diseases. People may say they do not care but if they are hit with one of the diseases they change their minds quickly.

      We love, love, love our owls and hawks!


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