Rodent Infestation: How to Keep Mice, Rats, & Squirrels Away

Rodents love cars because they provide a warm and sheltered environment that’s perfect for nesting. They’re also attracted to the smell of food and other debris that may be left in or around the vehicle. Additionally, some car materials, such as wiring and hoses, may contain soy-based plastics that rodents find appealing to chew on.

squirrel rodent
Squirrels and other rodents may be attracted to your car.

The following are sure signs of rodent presence in a car:


Rodent droppings can vary in appearance depending on the type of rodent. Generally, they are small and pellet-shaped, with tapered ends. They may be dark brown or black and have a dry, hard texture. Notably, the size of the droppings can also vary depending on the size of the rodent, but they are typically no larger than a grain of rice. If you notice small, dark-colored pellets in or around your car, it may be a sign of a rodent infestation. It’s important to take action to address the issue before it causes damage to your car.

Gnawed wiring or hoses:

Rodents often chew on car wiring and hoses, which can cause electrical issues and engine damage.

Nesting materials:

Shredded paper, fabric, or insulation may be found in the car’s cabin or engine compartment.

Unusual smells:

Rodents have a distinct smell that can be described as musky, pungent, or musty. If a rodent has been inside a car, the odor may be more noticeable in areas where the rodent spent time, such as the engine compartment or the cabin. Additionally, if the rodent has urinated or left droppings in the car, the odor may be stronger and more unpleasant. Notably, a decaying or rotting smell most likely points to a dead rodent.

Rodents are bad for cars because they can cause significant damage to electrical systems, engine components, and other car parts. For instance, chewed wires and hoses can lead to expensive repairs, and rodents nesting in the engine compartment can create a fire hazard.

Here are some ways to keep rodents away from your car:

Keep your car clean and free of clutter. Rodents are attracted to food and debris, so it’s important to remove any trash, food crumbs, or other items from your car.

Store your car in a garage or under a carport. This can reduce the risk of rodents nesting in your car.

Keep windows and the sunroof closed. Don’t make it easy for rodents to enter the cabin.

Use rodent-repellent scents, such as peppermint oil, cloves, or cayenne pepper. For example, you can also soak cotton balls in these oils and place them in your car’s cabin or engine compartment.

Use rodent deterrent electric tape to wrap around wiring and hoses. For instance, Honda makes a rodent-deterrent tape that’s treated with capsaicin, a substance found in hot peppers, which rodents find unpleasant.

Use cedar shavings, sawdust, or mulch around your car to repel rodents. The strong scent emitted by cedar contains phenols that repulse rodents, and these phenols can ultimately kill them.

Install ultrasonic pest repellents close to your car. These devices emit sound waves that can cause confusion, and convulsions, and, ultimately, kill rodents. It should be noted that sound waves are not audible to humans and won’t bother your pets, including dogs or cats, either.

Use rodent traps in areas where mice may enter or hide, such as behind seats or in the trunk. Choose a hygienic rodent trap that seals the dead rodent within an opaque container once it has been caught.

Rodent Away

By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of a rodent infestation in your car and avoid the costly damage they may cause. Lastly, you may be able to recover the cost of the damage if you have comprehensive insurance coverage. However, you’ll need to meet your deductible first.

Image Attribution

Image by M. Maggs from Pixabay

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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