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The Best Ways to Keep Rats and Mice out of Your Vehicle

Rochelle has experience with wild critters and gardening adventures while living the simple life in a rural area for 20 years.

You don't want these guys inside your car.

You don't want these guys inside your car.

This article lists rodent management and extermination solutions that many people have used to stop damage to their vehicles. There are several biological, chemical, mechanical, and electronic methods to discourage rodent infestations in cars. Some tactics may kill or trap the pests, and others just discourage them from making your car into a rat hotel.

This article features some strategies and warnings about the potential disadvantages and dangers of each option. What works for one motorist may have no effect for another. Many people try multiple methods simultaneously to address this kind of problem.

If You Already Have Mice In Your Car

  1. First get rid of the rodents, their droppings, and their nests. Use a small vacuum to expedite the cleaning process.
  2. If you can, try to rinse out the engine with a garden hose to remove nesting material and wash away the rodents' scent.
  3. Check the vehicle for damage, especially in the engine compartment. Seek advice from your mechanic regarding what to look for and how to recognize signs of damage.
  4. Look over the suggestions below to find deterrents and strategies to keep the perpetrators away permanently.

How to Prevent or Eliminate Rodent Infestations in Your Car

  1. Clear away potential hiding places.
  2. Eliminate food sources.
  3. Use bright lighting to discourage nesting.
  4. Use repellant fragrances/odors.
  5. Block points of entry.
  6. Use electronic deterrents.
  7. Don't let your vehicle sit idle for long periods of time.
  8. Use biological deterrents.
  9. Use traps.
  10. Use poison.

How to Keep Rats and Mice Out of Your Car

1. Keep the Area Clear

One of the first steps you can take involves ensuring that you are not providing food and a comfortable habitat for the culprits. Both the car and its surrounding environment should be kept clean and free of clutter. Rodents like to nest in areas with lots of hiding places, so trash, clusters of boxes, and thick foliage should be removed.

One woman whose car had been attacked by mice noticed that her cats were fascinated by movements and noise in a thick vining shrub that covered the side of her garage. She eventually found out that mice were living in the thicket, and some had decided that her car might also be a good nesting spot. Removing the plant helped solve her problem.

2. Eliminate Food Sources

Mice and rats can be attracted to bags of dog kibble, dry cat food, bird seed, livestock feed, garden seeds, or even stored emergency meal supplies that may be kept in a garage. If there's a handy food supply nearby, rodents may take up residence in a conveniently parked vehicle.

Make sure that all of these types of edible options are stored in sturdy, sealed, rodent-proof containers. Cardboard cartons and paper, plastic, or cloth bags will not prevent mice and rats from getting inside. If you have children who eat snacks in the car and drop crumbs between the seats, you will make local mice very happy. And those people who forgetfully leave big bags of dog food in the trunks of their car are also asking for trouble. Try to avoid spilling snacks in the car, and vacuum between and beneath the seats often to reduce the risk of attracting unwanted guests.

3. Use Light to Deter Nesting

Rodents like to build nests and stash food into nearby places so they can eat it at a later time. Sometimes rodents will store food in inconvenient places like inside a car's air filters. Keeping the garage light on (and the car hood open) might discourage nesting because some rodents can't sleep with the lights on, and they may chose to nest in darker places instead. For those who do not park in a garage, leaving the vehicle hood open in the daytime is sometimes recommended to keep the intruders from finding a dark enclosed place to nest.

4. Use Repellant Fragrances and Odors

Mice, rats, squirrels, and similar species have a well-developed sense of smell. They can be repelled by the following strong odors.

  • Irish Spring Soap: Cut the soap into cubes, drill holes into each cube, and wrap a wire through and around the soap. Then, tie them under the hood in locations where it doesn't get hot. Or just rub the soap bar around on various surfaces. This soap is also often used to repel deer.
  • Peppermint oil: This oil works as a mouse repellent when it's applied to cotton balls and appropriately fixed or wired in place, but you must remember to reapply the oil every few days. Peppermint oil has a strong scent, and its fragrance is possibly repugnant to rodents, but more pleasant to humans than other options.
  • Laundry Dryer Sheets: Campers and hikers occasionally use these sheets as a type of mosquito repellant. It has been said that putting them under the car's hood or tying them in certain places in the vehicle can make mice vacate the premises. They are also very easy to purchase and acquire. Dryer sheets must be regularly replaced.
  • Pine-Sol: Some people recommend spraying pine-sol into the car's engine compartment to repel mice. Try to not to get it on the batteries. Spraying the area around the windshield wipers should send a message to invading rodents. Confirm that pine-sol is safe to use before spraying it onto certain parts of your car. Alternatively, "Stop the Rodent" or "Critter Ridder" products should be safe to use everywhere. Check each product's directions before you use them.
  • Brillo steel wool scrubbing pads: These pads may contain soap residue which can act as a good rodent deterrent.
  • Cayenne pepper: This type of pepper is occasionally used in some commercial spray products. Sprinkling it around the vehicle's tires might help deter rodents.
  • WD-40 and self-defense pepper spray: Some people use these items to repel rodents, but I’d refrain from using them. The first is dangerously flammable, and it also evaporates quickly. The second may literally backfire on you.

5. Block Points of Entry

If you think you know how the mice are getting inside the vehicle, you may be able to put up a barrier. Several vehicle models have air intakes or open wheel wells that rodents intrepret as "vacancy" signs. I have heard of some car owners blocking off those entries with wire mesh, which would take some work to install. Some people have been able to fasten a quarter inch mesh screen over the 3x5 inch air intake vents and the wheel well vents. Mice can squeeze through an opening that is the size of a U.S. dime, so finding all of the tiny mouse-sized entrances on a car can be daunting.

6. Use Electronic Deterrents

There are several kinds of effective electronic repellants. Some plug into a wall socket, some plug into the car's lighter receptacle, and there are even some solar powered models. Some are ultrasonic, others use a flashing strobe light, and a few cause vibrational disruptions that deter rodents. Some buzz loudly when they sense slight motion, and others send out an unpleasant sound that's only heard by rodents. A small electronic deterrent device that sends out rodent-disturbing signals might be the best option. One advantage of this method is that is you won't have to keep respraying a solution or baiting a trap.

7. Don't Leave Your Car Unused for Long Periods of Time

If you leave your car idle and parked for a few days it will be more susceptible to rodent intrusion. Start your engines now and then to discourage mice from moving in. You might also try parking in different locations, but if you have a heavy rodent infestation, doing so might not be enough to solve the problem.

8. Use Biological Deterrents

Many people recommend getting a cat to discourage mice. This might be a good solution if you have a feline with the right hunting instincts and disposition. However, if you have one of those big sissy kitties that eats from a crystal goblet, you may need to consider other options. If you use a cat as your main mouse deterrent, make sure you know where she/he is before you start your car. Cats can get inside your motor just like mice, and the consequences can be deadly if the car is started while an animal is inside.

Some people recommended using dogs—especially rat terriers—to control rodent problems, though one owner reported that his terrier damaged the car by clawing, biting, and scratching the vehicle while trying to get at the vermin.

Other biological deterrents include placing animal fur (or even human hair) around the car or tied in bundles under the hood. Critters can sense the presence of predators by the smell of fur or hair, and they may be inclined to nest elsewhere as a result. You can also purchase products that are supposed to contain fox or coyote urine. These ingredients apparently dissuade rodents. No, I don't know how product manufacturers obtain the ingredients for these types of repellants. However I will advise you to refrain from catching a wild predator for do-it-yourself (DIY) versions of these deterrents.

How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice

9. Use Traps

Snap traps have been used to manage rodents for more than a century. They are very straightforward in their operation. Bait is put on a lever to attract a mouse. Then, a mouse trips the lever and releases a stiff wire bar that's attached to a strong spring. The bar smashes down on the mouse, trapping and (usually) killing it instantly.

Some people think this is still the most effective method of dealing with mice and rats. It does, at least, leave evidence of success behind (and a bit of a mess to clean up). One reader leaves a baited trap on the passenger side floor, and zaps the varmints before they can do any damage.

Traditionally, we tend to think that cheese is the best bait for snap traps, but most people will tell you that peanut butter or a peanut affixed to the trap with a blob of peanut butter works best. Watch your fingers. If you have a dog or another pet who likes peanut butter, keep the trap out of their reach or the trap may snap on their nose.

Another popular type of trap is the "sticky strip," which uses a thick gluey adhesive to trap the little creatures. (Don't touch the sticky part!)

The sticky strip has several advantages:

  • It can be affixed to surfaces inside the engine compartment.
  • It may catch more than one mouse at a time.
  • It is disposable.
  • It does not accidentally snap down on your fingers.

Place traps near and on top of the tires, since that is often the entry point for rodents that are trying to climb into the engine.

Some people object to the fact that mice probably die a slow and tortured death when they're caught on sticky traps. There are cage-like traps that humanely capture rodents so they can be rehabilitated, given a secret identity, and relocated in a far-away area that doesn't have automobiles. People who have recently paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for car repairs are usually not inclined to be so charitable to the perpetrators, but if you want to catch the rodents without hurting them then humane traps are definitely an option to consider.

10. Poisoning Rodents

  • Moth balls (Paradichlorobenzine) are poisonous to animals and humans. They have toxic vapors and are dangerous to use. Some people recommend placing them in a can under a vehicle or hanging a bagful under the hood, but there are serious risks associated with using moth balls.
  • Rat poisons can kill rodents and their natural predators (foxes, hawks, etc.) if a poisoned rodent is eaten. Rat bait may work as well, but it is often carried away or eaten by other animals. It would be terrible if you killed your favorite hunting dog or the neighbor's cat while using rat poison. Also, if a rat consumes the poison and dies in a hidden space inside your vehicle, will you be able to live with the repulsive rotting smell that will penetrate the car's interior?

Using a Combination Approach

It can be difficult to find the specific solution that works best for your particular circumstance. The type of rodent, the climate in your area, the frequency of vehicle usage, the proximity of rodent habitats or food sources, and many other factors can influence the success of each potential solution.

No single tactic seems to work for everyone, but many people who're fighting rodent infestations have found that using a combination of two or three strategies at the same time may be the best way to get the desired results.

I hope some of these tips help you solve or prevent a vehicular rodent infestation. Please comment below about your experiences—especially if you find a solution that solves your problem.

Installing Mouseblocker

How to Keep Mice, Rats, and Other Rodents out of Your Car Engine

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: What can be done about squirrels in the air conditioning unit of my car? I've repaired it once; they're back again.

Answer: I would try one of the electronic devices suggested in this article. They are usually scared off by noise or vibration.

Question: I'm storing my 2012 Silverado in a Wisconsin storage unit while I spend five months in FL. What product would you recommend?

Answer: First I would ask the managers of the storage unit if they have any rodent problems and what they might recommend. Mothballs might be effective. Things like traps have to be reset, oils and soaps need to be replaced frequently. An electronic device might be best if you have access to an outlet.

Question: I have a rat living in the roof and door panels of my vehicle and I can't get it out. How do I get it out?

Answer: Your best bet may be to set traps with some bait that rats like. Peanut butter is a possibility. If you suspect they are getting dog food kibble or wild bird seed as part of their diet you might try that.( You can stick bits to the trap trigger with peanut butter.) If traps are not your choice, the electric ultrasonic repellers seem to be effective in getting them to leave.

Question: I will be trying your ideas, as my dog is going bonkers around my new, parked car! Are the old metal and wood mouse traps still the best, or are any of the newer ones good?

Answer: I don’t know if there has been a comparison of metal and wood traps. I think they would be similar. One thing that is often recommended with either is using a dab of peanut butter rather than cheese.

Question: Does a rat bite cause harm to a human body?

Answer: Any animal bite presents the opportunity for infection and the transmission of any disease that the animal may have. One infection known as rat-bite fever, can be contracted through an infected rat's bite or even by simply handling a rat with the disease.


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 20, 2020:

A lot of people have contributed ideas and it seems that different things work in different circumstances. Thanks for your comment.

JmJoson23 on April 20, 2020:

Hello, Jan here from NYC. Ha! rat capital. Anywho, Iam a clean freak esp with our fam vehicle also a mechanic.. i have tried to clean engine frequently but we live in an apt no garage and the fact that we live in CHINATOWN!!! Yep guessed right RAT!!!!!!! They go in eat,leave this disgusting foul odor, food debris, poop and chewed the fuel injector jet wire cover. No damage so far. I constantly clean, moth balls amd now I read your article i tried Irish Spring and pine soil. So far day 1 after parking no signs of the little nasty critters. Thank you. Your research.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 09, 2020:

Yes you are correct. If you re- read that part, you can see that I pointed out the dangers and do not recommend poisons for the reasons you cite. For some people it is the first thing they think of, so I felt I had to address the use of poisons and why they shouldn't be used. There are plenty of other strategies to try.

Ana on January 08, 2020:

okay but PLEASE take number 10 off your list, "use poison." Really?? Don't we know better already? The poisoned mouse gets eaten by someone's loving kitty, or a bird, and dead goes everybody. come on. nothing in nature is segregated. we have beautiful, rare, red tailed hawks in our area trolling for mice. Let's protect what wildlife we have left.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 21, 2019:

They can be very persistent. When the problem is severe, we have to be constant in our efforts. Hope you are OK. A fire under the hood can be a disaster.

Terry on December 21, 2019:

The rats are driving me crazy.

They chewed threw 2 sets of plug wires. Pay the extra $ for free replacement and save the unchewed ones for emergencies.

Then l forgot to leave the hood up one night used the car the next morning got a fire under the hood 2 miles dawn the rode.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 04, 2019:

They are very good at hide and seek. Often people dont know until the damage is done.

Missy from The Midwest on November 03, 2019:

Oh wow! It never occurred to me that these critters could hide in vehicles. I keep an eye out for cats, but I guess I need to watch for other animals too.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 26, 2019:

Mothballs are toxic and can be harmful or poisonous to pets and people.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 26, 2019:

Wow! That squirrel needs to be trapped and studied. Critters can be very challenging. I recently had a raccoon figure out how to unlock our chicken coop door with tragic results. All I can suggest is to keep trying.

JRz on October 26, 2019:

Honestly, I feel like I have tried it all! I am dealing with a very smart squirrel. My last effort was one of those electronic devices and thought this for sure must work, had good reviews and everything. Within a week of having it installed, the squirrel managed to chew through the two wires that were connected to the device, thus rendering it non functional. To make matters worse, he placed the two wires on the battery to make sure I saw them. I've tried dog hair, peppermint oil, moth balls. I even had a huge sticky rat trap on the engine. It took the crackers and cheese and never touched the actual trap. I feel like it's just laughing at me at this point. I have a bunch of rat poison positioned in several places around the engine and so far he doesn't seem to want anything to to do with the poison. He has just chewed through some wiring and a hose. I am trying Tabasco sauce sprayed on all the wiring next. We've use lithium grease, I've bought repellent to spray on and nothing seems to bother this squirrel!!!!

Marlene Semple on April 04, 2019:

The author says there are "serious risks associated with using moth balls." Please explain the risks.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 26, 2018:

Sometimes it's hard to tell if your strategies are working, but people who use the traps at least have some evidence of success.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 18, 2018:

That is an important link from the CDC. We tend to be aware of the damage done to our vehicles, but rodents can carry deadly diseases as well.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 27, 2018:

I'm glad you found something that works for you. Unfortunately, some solutions have side effects and must be used with care and warnings.

Bradley on September 27, 2018:

I just ground some ghost peppers into powder and sprayed the inside of my engine housing with it. Haven't seen a single rodent in there ever since.

Unfortunately, my mechanic now refuses to go anywhere near my engine either.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 17, 2018:

Hmmm, maybe it is just being used wrong. Maybe you have to find out what attracts and what repels.

David on July 17, 2018:

Irish spring soap is a not a control method , I’ve used Irish spring soap to bait my snap traps for rats specifically.

Caught em by the masses.

Rick on March 31, 2018:

Rataway Fragrance, saved the ride and the day

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 25, 2018:

Thanks for the suggestion. It makes sense because The easiest way for a rodent to enter would be to climb up a tire. It would be a good idea to examine any entryway near tires.

David John Stone on March 24, 2018:

I just finished putting my partner's Swift air intake back together.

Rats have nested on the filter element above the blower. No one talks about any air inlet except the grill below the windshield that does not provide egress for a rat. They were not inside the car's cabin, and not in the ducting south or the fan, neither could they get there. It was a puzzle where they were getting in.

The answer turned out to be that the chamber that houses the windscreen whiper mechanism and motor below the windscreen through which the ventilation air passes, that the grill is part of is also the channel that conducts water off the windscreen out to the sides and down behind the front wheels. This channel provides the entry for rodents into the system. It needs to be fitted with some sort of grill to allow the rain water to pass but not the rodents. One each side.

I strongly suspect most cars are the same.

Hope this might help someone.

Cheers David J S

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 08, 2017:

I think you should assume there are live mice in or around your car and use some of the suggestions posted here to discourage them.

Charlotte on December 08, 2017:

I haven't had a problem with mice in the engine, but on the inside of my car. In the past 2 days I've found 2 dead mice. One on the passenger seat and one on the back floorboard. Very odd. Not sure what I should do.

RFS on December 07, 2017:

People should not vacuum mouse droppings. Mouse droppings may contain hanta virus. Vacuuming will make it airborne and infect the lungs. Hanta virus is deadly.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 04, 2017:

Thank you for your comments. I have had many people say that the electronic devices are effective.

Sometimes the less expensive strategies also work, even though they require constant upkeep and refill.

One problem is that various varmints require various strategies.

I appreciate the 'appreciation' and the comment that might help other people solve therir ratty problems.

Matt39 on December 04, 2017:

I just wanted to share with everyone our problem and solution. We have a VW Jetta that we have not been able to keep the mice out of. They have been tearing up the insulation on the hood and making nests under the engine cover for some time now. Recently had to have our vehicle towed to the shop due to a damaged wiring harness. $700 later we started looking for solutions and came across this hub.

We took the advice of many and installed a Pro Model Mouse blocker unit and I want to share with everyone our results. This thing is amazing. Comes with flashing lights to scare the mice and 3 settings for ultrasonic sound. I cannot hear the lowest setting but my kid can, level 2 I can hear and level 3 is very obvious. It was recommended we remove the insulation from the hood because they have been using it for nesting and with it gone it makes these sound machines more effective. It has been 8 months now and not even a sign of any mice in our engine. Just wanted to share our experience as it may help many, 2 thumbs up from us.

Thank you for this hub, it has so much information.

Dave on December 03, 2017:

Re: Dryer Sheets and Moth Balls. I didn't use my daily driver for a couple of weeks while waiting for some brake parts and good weather to arrive. Well, after staring the car up I immediately noticed mouse urine smell when turning on the heating and cooling system. They made a nest above the cabin air filter, about 6"+ high of packed insulation from firewall and hood heat protection and maybe a nearby barn. If you see this, vacuum it out as much as possible before removing the cabin air filter as the filter is the barrier between a big mess and your vehicles heating and cooling fan. If that mess fall into the fan compartment there will be much more for yourself or a mechanic $$$ to take apart to properly clean. Use antibacterial cleaning wipes to wipe as much as you can reach, which is not much as the cabin air filter port is usually an inch tall by maybe 10" wide. A nest was also found in front fender so took the plastic inner fender liner off and vacuumed it all out while a couple mice scrambled. I also disassembled the plastic screen area between the wipers and hood where the fresh air from outside enters the vehicle to see if I could block the spot where the rodent(s) were able to get to the inlet side of the cabin air filter but could not determine how they got in, but I think its a space on my car between the fender and hood, just below the hood hinge, which is inaccessible without pulling off the fender and everything under the hood attached to it, no thanks.

I put a brand new unopened box scented dryer sheet, store brand, directly over the new cabin air filter before installing the filter and closing the cabin air filter door, closed the door on a bit of dryer sheet sticking out and tossed a piece of uber strong duct tape to seal it good. Since the fan pulls air down and through the filter the dryer sheet will stay in place and not blow around, but I kept a bit sticking out of the duct just in case and eventually was able to get sucked behind a thing gap around the sides of the filter. Used the car for a bit and next day pulled the filter and found a couple of mouse droppings and urine stain on the dryer sheet :/

Kept the dryer sheet in there and bought some moth balls, something I've never owned or used before. Once opened put the unused ones in a well sealed jar as they can stink up your entire house fast if unattended for a couple hours, no matter which room, even basement, they're left in.

I placed the moth balls in a small plastic jar I poked a bunch of 1/8"-1/4" holes into and hang it with a piece of electrical wire in the engine bay when the car is parked over night, pop the hood and remove it daily unless I use my other vehicle that day. They go into a covered bucket left outdoors when not under the hood. DO NOT DRIVE WITH THE MOTH BALLS UNDER THE HOOD. TURNING ON HEATING OR COOLING WILL BRING A MIGRAINE INDUCING STINK. Have checked the cabin air filter every few days since and have not seen any sign of rodents. It has been a month and while removing and adding the moth balls a couple times a day is a small burden to my time I'm happy to not see any rodents return. It sounds like the critters may have stored some acorns above the hood insulation panel, so I will be removing that shortly to clear as much of any left behind nest and scents as possible without buying a new insulation panel $$$.

TL;DR...I don't think dryer sheets are much help, but maybe some brands work better? The moth balls would make your eyes water in 2,000 Sq Ft of floor space, never mind a concealed space under the hood of a car, but seem to have evacuated all rodents from the area. I don't notice a moth ball smell in the vehicle interior, possibly due to the cabin air filter and the fresh air intake port of the heating and cooling system acting as a barrier blocking the off-gassing of the moth balls from entering the interior. Oh, and Ozium worked wonders for getting rid of the initial smell after using the car for a long trip before I found the nest in the cabin air filter.

I don't plan on using mothballs forever but am sticking with them for maybe a couple more weeks to make sure any rodents that made house and left while shop-vaccing don't come back. I'll likely try peppermint oil first if they ever do come back but at the same time will have one of those electronic sonic devices at the ready too.

John on October 10, 2017:

Build a great trap using a 5 gallon pail, a pop can , coat hanger , some peanut butter for bait , wood for a ramp. Just do an internet search on "pail mouse trap". Lots of examples.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 08, 2017:

That is a very scary situation. The electronic devices seem to be one of the better options, especially if you are not using your car every day. Look over the various options and see if one or two might be best for you.

Anne on October 08, 2017:

Replaced the Pruis' wiring last year, have had small nests in the Element's cabin air filter, this time the invaders took over the Prius: huge rat (8-9") ate a nest into the back seat upholstery and set up camp when I was away for 5 days. Element seems more immune to actual invasion, ready to burn the Prius at this point due to extreme nastiness levels right now. Question: are there cars that seem more resistant to invasion? I'm willing to do warfare on the engine with oils and deterrents, I want a critter-proof interior!!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 30, 2017:

It's not an easy war to win, and there can be many battles.

As far as the air intakes and vents, I would suggest consulting a dealer or service professional who is familiar with your particular vehicle make and model. Don't neglect the other suggestions to assure that you are not making a rodent friendly environment, especially with access to food. Good luck.

Scott on September 30, 2017:

I thought they were climbing up the front roof supports so I blocked it with a combination of steel wool and rodent resistant spray foam. Now I have more mice and the area looks intact.

One forum said cars have air intake vents and wheel well vents. Can those be blocked?

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 27, 2017:

Some of it is a matter of trial and error, so it's probably best to try two, three, or more ideas at once.

Kim on September 26, 2017:

Pine Sol repels creatures though not all, like possum which is why you may have to lay in wait for a mouse to come out of hiding and with a towel in hand, get him cornered and then grab him up and toss him out the door. Peppermint oil, once mice learn that you stuffed their hole with q-tips saturated with it, they will push them back out and taunt you afterward. Mice...gotta love 'em.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on August 31, 2017:

It depends on your car, but personally I would avoid putting them the engine compartment which could create a fire hazard.

I think dryer sheets may not be the best deterrent, though they be useful inside the car if critters are nesting there.

The consensus may be that the electronic devices may be your best bet. Different people have different experiences, so I would always recommend a multi- faceted approach.

Sophie Martin on August 31, 2017:

I have a question about the dryer sheets. Specifically how many should I use and where should I put them under the hood and how do I tie them under the hood so they stay. I had rodents chew my windshield wiper fluid reservoir radiator hose. I have started spraying peppermint oil under the hood as well. Thanks in advance!

David on August 21, 2017:

The product is called Ban-O. Its manufactured by Hill Manufacturing Company, Inc. in Atlanta, Ga. I have a link which shows the identical product I purchase locally:


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on August 02, 2017:

Can you give us a name on that deoderizer product or a source? I think a lot of peoplemight be interested.

David on August 01, 2017:

The only thing I have found which actually repels the mice out here in the middle of rural nowhere is industrial-strength deodorizer. The kind I am using can only be purchased from hotel/restaurant supply companies, is liquid, and doesn't take much to do the trick. Its concentrated and I don't mix it, I use it full strength, strategically placing a few drops here and there under the hood. Lasts for about a month before I have to re-drip. Plus the truck has a very pleasant odor that female vehicles seem attracted to.

I did try the dryer sheets first, the mice used them for nesting material.

Amitang on July 25, 2017:

My mother was away for 2 weeks and left her car outside. Yesterday we went to leave and opened the door to an awful stench. I told her let me look around but my mother opened the passenger door and went under the seat. She thought she found a peach but pulled out a huge dead rat. She screamed bloody murder! It was disgusting. This have never happened. We live in a beautiful subdivision. We have 2 dogs however, they were not near her apartment area of our house while she was gone. We got the dead rat out. There were no signs of droppings, claw marks or destruction anywhere. The car is getting detailed and an ozone machine is in it over night as we speak. My concern is something coming back. She's 81 and horrified to drive the car now. The county just had to open up a man hole line in front of our house that drains water into the ditch near the side of our house. Maybe it came from there? Scared something might come back.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 02, 2017:

Good luck Carrie, and all who are fighting this battle, I appreciate all the comments and suggestions. Hope you find something that works for you.

Carrie on July 01, 2017:

Thank you for all the helpful hints and for the humor. I needed it today as I have an $800 repair bill in the midst. No idea what critter but whatever it was chewed thru 3 of the 4 wires on the O2 sensors and nearby plugs. I am fortunate as I carry full coverage insurance with no deductible comprehension (currently unemployed due to health issues). However since I have no garage to help deter, I will definitely be trying some of these methods to hopefully ensure it doesn't happen again.

Again, thanks for the suggestions AND the humor as I am an animal lover. Just not very concerned about the rodents when they are causing me expensive issues.

Lucretiagann on June 13, 2017:

Never had this problem before. But a few days ago my air conditioner quit working. My car was fairly new and I was confused. Took to my dealership thinking the warranty would cover it. They called and said rodents had eaten all the wire to my compressor etc. Wow - 1200 worth of work. I live in a rural area and am afraid of it happening again. Thanks for all the tips. I will have to try some.

Vanessa on May 16, 2017:

My husband noticed mouse droppings in our van - no damage had occurred. I used big balls of hair from my 3 giant breed dogs, and let the dogs sleep in the van with the door opened for a few days. I also littered it with Bounce fab softener sheets - I used 3 boxes on day 1. Now its been 3 weeks and no evidence of mice - fingers crossed! I'm an animal lover, so I could NEVER use the sticky traps - such a horrible death. I suppose if one had to choose these methods, go with the old fash. spring traps - hopefully a quick death. But so far the predator and bounce are working! Good luck

Carrie on May 02, 2017:

I love your humor regarding the humane live trap! Priceless!

ron warner on April 27, 2017:

Serious rat problem here with my 2014 Kia Sorento. Had to replace a full wiring harness on two occasions.Fed up has no one started a "class/action" suit" against the Auto-M anfactures using the soy based materials as an environent friendly type.If anyone is aware of such an action I would be pleased in knowing especially here in Canada?

Irma V on April 23, 2017:

My problem is the cat n kitten! I have a Pit bull, a Lab and 2 poodles which will eat them alive if caught and they climb my roof at night and daytime they hide under car or pk! I'm scared that they can get caught when I turn on the vehicles then I'll have to deal with the smelly part! Years ago it happened with a baby possum caught in the car air condition part! I had to purchase a new car, it was sickening and embarrassing to drive in that car! I don't want them in my dogs territory! What can I do?

Cathryn Chudy on April 22, 2017:

I would like to know if there has been any progress made with manufacturers in addressing the problem - I had the problem with my Toyota Prius and after an expensive repair, I got an electronic device that has been working. I am wanting to get an electric vehicle, but have read that they are prone to mice infestation problems.

Navin Johnson on March 01, 2017:

Lots of good ideas. Irish Spring Soap did not work for me.... the mice ate it.

Mary Lynn on January 15, 2017:

I never dreamed I had an issue until my wipers didn't work one day. I thought it was a fuse only to find out that in fact so little critter (think it was a squirrel) had my wires for lunch. It cost me $500... I was not a happy camper. I have dogs so I wanted something that wouldn't harm them... read a lot of reviews and ended up with a spray containing different essential oils that I sprayed under the hood and in the wheel wells. I then bought some pet friendly granules that I sprinkled around my car that also contain oils etc. Then I sprinkled peppermint oil under the hood. I periodically respray the vehicle and so far so good... Fingers crossed that they stay away!

Lori George on December 27, 2016:

In the last month I have paid $600 in rat damage to my engine. That is a nest in the oil filter, a dead rat in the fan of my heater, chewed through the windshield wiper to bed twice and God knows what else! I am petrified of these rats. Oh yes they chewed the upholstery inside my car when there was no food or anything else in the car but have not had that repaired. Has anyone heard of flash fencing? I've been given an estimate of $450 for a 2 foot high aluminum fence you put around your car . But I just read rats can jump up to I think 4 feet or maybe it's three? I am trying everything above. Having exterminator come tomorrow to see if he can give me any suggestions.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 21, 2016:

Yours sounds like the true voice of experience. I agree with your strategies, and appreciate you sharing.

Ian Metcalfe on December 20, 2016:

Five attacks inside rural garage in last two years. I have traps, electronic devices, scented baggies, lights. After trying them all on a slow learning curve what has done it for me is....in order of effectiveness.

1) Open hood and hang a workshop light from hood. (no attack since)

2) Electronic "buzzer" anti rodent device over engine, also on floor under engine.

3) Garage lights off, but with traps in shady place around walls, peanut butter for bait. (I don't use poison as cats and dogs on property).

4) No nesting material or food (for rats) in garage. A plastic bag with old clothes is like an offer of a free apartment offer in a new condo for a rat. ( and i live in vancouver area!)

5) No clutter. Inside and outside. They will hide anywhere, shelving/cupboards stacked around walls and under fridge freezers is a favourite, and woodpiles or bushy plants onor close to the outside.

No Darkness, No food, No shelter/nesting opportunity....They"ll move elsewhere. You can't stop your engine being warm, but i pop my hood and hang the mechanics light as soon as i put the car in the garage.

P.S. I tried the green option of the bags of scented wood/herbs in the engine compartment (sold to me by Hyundai $40), they chewed thru the bag to check it, then stopped, didn't chew any car wires that night tho, so i guess thats a positive, but didn't keep them away worth a damn.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 14, 2016:

Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm glad you found something that works for you. Sometimes it is a good idea to try more than one method.

Valerie on December 14, 2016:

After having finding no brake fluid under the bonnet because mice had chewed the pipes and done other damage, I finally had to resort to glue traps. Not something I enjoy doing but it's "them or me!!) Mice had done a lot of damage and all the above remedies hadn't worked 100%. First time I used the glue traps there were 8 mice on the traps from one night!!! Yesterday I found another. 100% efficient, but don't forget to remove them before you drive off and put them back when you get back home!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 13, 2016:

I haven't used one, myself. I think they all work in a similar way, as long as you remember to turn them on.

su on December 12, 2016:

Every winter i have mice get into the cabin filter of my car...i thought if i closed the vent, they couldn't get in....what's the best electronic device? I guess it would be cheaper than a new filter every couple of months....i read thru your list but which have you heard Works?!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 09, 2016:

The problem has been around for a long time. However, the soy-based wire coatings probably are tastier than plastic.

Barb on December 08, 2016:

I heard that the car manufacturers are using a type of plastic coating that is attractive to rodents - could be why the sudden onslaught of problems!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 02, 2016:

Squirels can do a lot of damage. Keep watching, and take other steps if necessary. Good luck.

PJ on December 01, 2016:

Just happened to me in Vancouver BC. Car went in for service and my mechanic said there was a rat nest near the transmission, and chewed wires have to be replaced. Been a cold and rainy fall and he says they look for some place warm. I don't use the car every day, so it sits outside the house. Guess I'll have to turn it on more often. Most people use street parking here. Never heard of this rodent in car problem til now. Eeuww! Haven't seen any rats buts lotsa squirrels in my hood.

JohnKL on November 11, 2016:

I have this problem in Vista, CA, with my GMC pickup. It is parked in the driveway, and sometimes sit for weeks without moving. I't had to go to the shop twice: (1) it failed smog and the cause was the wire to both NOX sensor harness coconnectors had been damaged by rodents ($600.00); (2) spark pug wire and injector pulse wire damaged by rodent.

I had tried the Irish Spring soap - failed.

I was told by service tech that rodents love to run into the engine and find a warm spot to hang out. And, as a retired manufacturing manager for a defense contractor (we built the Bradley Fighting Vehicles), when I had this problem I was reminded of the horror stories, coming from places like Camp Pendelton, of the huge cost of repairing fleet vehicles of all kinds due to rodent damage. Taxpayers are paying millions every year to repair our fighting vehicles to keep them in service.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 18, 2016:

Traps do leave you with proof of success. You may need several.

Allan Nickson on October 18, 2016:

Irish Spring does not work for us. The mice eat the soap. Traps are the most effective.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 14, 2016:

Thanks for adding to the discussion. Glad you found something that works for you and your new car. You might consider some of the other deterrents as well. It seems extra frustrating when this happens to a new car.

Mitzi on October 13, 2016:

I live in Southern California. I have a brand new Honda Fit and I have mice in my engine. Im using Bounce dryer sheets and Irish spring soap as a deterrent. Both work. I noticed tonight that the mice have moved their acorn/nut stash to a different part of my engine. Im going to put cubes and small pieces of the soap in the smaller areas to see if I can get rid of them. A neighbor has a large amount of bird feed on the ground all year round and thats part of the attraction for mice,rats etc. They wont get rid of the bird seed so I have to find a solution. This is what ive found so far that has worked for me.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 05, 2016:

It's good to know that a repair person will recommend something that seems to be effective. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 05, 2016:

I've heard several people say the tape worked for them. It seems there is not just one answer, and that may be because there are several different kinds of rodents causing damage.

MATT on October 05, 2016:

I used the rodent tape from Mouse Blocker that my dealer who performed the wiring repairs recommended and so far we have not had any issues. Very happy a product like this exists and definitely recommend as it is very easy to install.

Britt on October 04, 2016:

If the rodent tape Kathy Smith mentioned above actually works, somebody PLEASE let me know oh my god--I've had such an issue with the ratty little b*stards chewing up my car's wiring (i literally got my car back a few days ago after having it repaired for a THIRD time, ugh.)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 26, 2016:

Let us know what works for you. Your success could help someone else.

Julie on June 25, 2016:

I have lived out in the country with livestock, dogs and cats my whole life. I have been so lucky that I have never had a mouse or rat problem in or around my autos. And now my luck has run out! So thank you to all of you that have made suggestions with all the tricks to get rid of mice, rats, squirrels and rock chucks. I am trying one thing at a time, and will double up on them as it goes. My dogs are quite obsessed with the under side of my pickup, so the varmint, what ever they may be, is too scared to leave!! I have used compress air, water, noise, driving a lot, old spice cologne , bars of soap etc. I am not giving up!! Great advise everyone!!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 06, 2016:

It is not an easy battle. I have recently heard about the rodent tape. Let us know if it is effective.

Kathy Smith on May 05, 2016:

Fighting the mice/rat war now , he has chewed the same wire 3 times now , we have 3 types of traps and bait plus repellent and dryer sheets all covering the wires , now it appears to have chewed a different location will find out the damage tomorrow , already paid 700$ and we're still battling , so frustrating because the garage is clean , we've never seen mice around , my car is fairly new 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I have only had it 2 months , I wonder if it came with the car ! Honda makes a rodent tape for the wires our local Honda dealership knew nothing about it , I ordered some from amazon ! Wish me luck

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 24, 2016:

Yes it can be very expensive, as you already know. The soy products (supposedly green and biodegradeable) seem to be making the problem worse. However, even cars without that type of material can attract rodents. Small dark spaces inside of your vehicle can seem like a cozy home, even if they have to bring their own snacks and bedding. Squirrels have been known to jam up the works with hundreds of acorns.

It seems that no ONE "solution" solves the problem, but many people think using two or three approaches at once give a better chance for winning the war.

Check through the various suggestions and put some of them into use.

Loretta on February 24, 2016:

We had 2 recent car tows to the dealer, for a cumulative total of 4 repair bills, including new battery and fuses before the dealer finally discovered the wiring was being chewed by rodents. Could be mice, rats, possums or what we have a lot of are squirrels. We live in a large urban area in midwest. Our daughter had thousands of $ wiring damage on her brand new car in southern CA. This is a huge problem, and what we've learned is many car mfrs are now using wiring from companies using soy-based coating, which is ideal mouse food. Repairs are very expensive, only solution seems to buy older used cars. If anyone's had real success fighting this problem, please post. Dealer said some people use moth balls. Unfortunately, our heater always reverts to outside air intake from under hood and I've gotten sick from toxic moth ball fumes. Need to know a safe solution that really works. I've seen posts on blogs by car mechanics at dealerss seeing 100 cars a month with very expensive, dangerous damages.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 28, 2016:

Can the system be turned off so you can service the engine?

Matt39 on January 28, 2016:

I work at a new car dealership and we see signs of mice EVERY day. They may not have caused problems yet but if you let them remain the eventually will. We have seen damaged wires, fuel lines leaking, flooded cars due to nests being built over drains not to mention the damage to the interior of the vehicles. We recommend the Mouse Blocker to these customers. We have seen great results in deterring the rodents with this type of unit that is powered by the vehicles battery. We cannot raise the hoods of these vehicles as the alarm system is integrated to the hood.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 01, 2015:

That will probably keep the rats out, but could be dangerous for the cat. Make sure kitty is out of there before starting the engine.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 01, 2015:

It is awful to have rats in the car engine, i have my cat hiding in the car engine instead

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 17, 2014:

It might help a lot if you think that is their access point, but they might have other ways of getting in as well. You might consider also using traps, and other deterrents as well. Yes, they are very persistent. Good luck.

John on November 17, 2014:

Big problem out here in the sticks. Have two new cars and replaced blower motors on both recently. I was thinking about sheet metal shaped to cover the tops of my front tires. Would that work?

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on November 13, 2014:

Hello Rochelle, we have open door barns,they don't seem to fancy living in the barns. We have tried almost everything. Not sure what motion detectors are but will certainly find out now,so thank you for your help.

I agree about the bats and mosquitoes,

best from jandee. La Rochelle is a favourite place of mine here about 30 minutes drive.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 12, 2014:

A neighbor of mine has a bat problem. He said the noise emitting electronic gadgets don't do anything scare bats, but I was wondering if bright lights on motion detectors might have an effect.

We have bats around here, too and I know that some local scout groups have been building "bat houses"-- little nesting boxes that are hung on trees away from the house that seem to interest them. You might search out some examples.

At least bats do us the service of eating thousands of mosquitoes.

Let me know if you find a good strategy

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on November 12, 2014:

Sorry to change the subject but we are plagued by Bats in the attic ! Bats are protected, so it is miserable that we cannot use our attic,any suggestions?

regards jandee

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 12, 2014:

Hope that works. Remember, you need to reapply regularly. You might also want to place a few traps near your parking area, as well.

ETRI on November 12, 2014:

A mouse nested on top of the gas tank on my Subaru Impreza and chewed two holes through the fuel line. When I filled the tank gas spewed up and stunk up the whole car. The mechanic was able to get to the damage by taking out the back seat and opening a hatch, which is how the fumes got up into the car. So, putting any deterrent under the hood wouldn't help me with this one. A friend suggested spraying peppermint oil on the tires so that the mice won't crawl up--I think I'll try that.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 11, 2014:

Well, you certainly have a more charitable and munificent attitude toward car rodents than most people-- perhaps because you have not experienced any dangerous or expensive damage. Make sure you mention the evidence of your suspicions to your mechanic specifically, so it can be checked for any damaged wires or evidence of nest building. I'm also sure people would be interested in finding out if there is any music which might make them turn tail and go away. Thanks for the entertaining comment.

Lauren on November 11, 2014:

I'm pretty sure I have some sort of rodent in my car as we speak. I noticed a towel chewed up in multiple places last night and my car is actually due to go to my mechanic tomorrow so I was planning on having him check everything out. Hopefully he finds the little guy. I found myself wondering on the drive to work today, where in the car the little bugger is and what he/she is doing. Did it have a good nights sleep? Am I waking it up? Hope it was at least enjoying the music selection and the last few hours of a warm home.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 03, 2014:

You need to check it out (or get someone else to do it) before damage is done. I hope it was just a hitchhiker, and not a permanent resident.

Debbie on November 03, 2014:

OMG... on the way home today, a little mouse ran across my windshield as I was driving. I pulled over and the little think ran under my hood (where the windshield wipers are located). I'm freaking out and now I'm terrified to go back into my car. I'm so skeeved out!!!!!!!!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 25, 2014:

When I lived in the suburbs we would see possums occasionally, usually running along the back fence walls at night. They are very adaptable creatures. I'm sure they could do a lot of damage. Seems even worse when it is a new car. Now that you have found the problem, I hope you find something that discourages them.

AnnieBananie on October 25, 2014:

A possum took residence in my new car and my car is in the shop as we speak. He/she was found dead and wrapped around my compressor back in July, now its October and my car has been in the shop several times and they couldn't figure out what was going on. They finally got to experience what was happening to me, replaced a part, which was not the one needed and after running the car before returning it to me, it began to fume. Long story short, wiring was damaged by the rodent and the compressor has to be replaced. I do not live in a rural area, so not sure where I picked up that menacing critter.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 18, 2014:

You were lucky to discover the problem early. Maybe it was just a warning. Keep looking for the signs, and you might avoid future damage. Thanks for commenting, LinStory.

LinStory from Seattle,WA on September 17, 2014:

OMG!....I have had this problem before.

A little mouse made his/her home in my car, inside my trunk.

I found his/her tiny nest inside (scraps of old shredded newspapers and old leaves mostly) .

I did place a few mouse traps under my car & finally caught that little critter and he/she was a tiny thing...so so small and cute. And yet, I was glad I caught that little mouse...No problem since.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 15, 2014:

I hope you find the right solution for you.... and check those wires before driving to the exterminator.

Betsey Koehler on September 15, 2014:

I have mice in my car AGAIN. I have no garage and the car never sits idle for more than a couple days, tops, and even that is rare. They actually ate a hole in the corner of the leather back seat, so they must live down under there. I saw evidence of them being in the car last night, on the front seats and on top of an empty coffee cup. I will try some of these methods, but can't stomach using traps. Might just drive it to an experminator if it gets any worse!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 02, 2014:

Thank you, swilliams. I wrote an earlier hub on the same subject, which attracted a lot of comments-- so I thought a hub to categorize and organize all of those many suggestions might be helpful.

It is something to be aware of for anyone living in a rural area. City dwellers are not immune, either.

swilliams on September 02, 2014:

I find this article to be both useful and terrifying! I admire the cleaning suggestions that you provided! Good work very resourceful! Voted up tweeted out!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on August 02, 2014:

Cayenne Pepper is an ingredient in some of the repellent/deterrent sprays and packets, so it could be helpful. Thanks for commenting.

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