Personal Finance

Rodents can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your car

Springtime brings mice and squirrels into cars as they look for a place to stay on cool nights.

Rodents can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your car
Francois Mori / AP
SMS

If you thought finding loose change, old napkins and stale French fries under the seat of your car was a problem, then you haven't experienced finding a mouse, chipmunk or other rodent inside your car.

Worse, sometimes it’s the smallest critters that weigh only a few ounces that do the most damage.

Sonja Detrinidad said rodents got to her Prius first.

"Look at this gigantic stash of seeds and such right next to the wiring," she said in a video she posted.

The damage was so bad that her insurance company considered the car totaled. Now, the critters have taken over her truck.

"I don't know what to do other than murder all of them, which sounds horrible," she said. "But you know, that truck cost $40,000."

Toyota recalls 381,000 pickups for axle issue that raises crash risk
Toyota recalls 381,000 pickups for axle issue that raises crash risk

Toyota recalls 381,000 pickups for axle issue that raises crash risk

The recall applies to certain 2022 and 2023 Toyota Tacoma trucks that could have bolts in the rear axle loosen or fall off.

LEARN MORE

These unwanted travel buddies are more common in cool, wet months like March and April, according to Patrick Olsen of Carfax.

"For them, they're looking for shelter and unfortunately, it might be your car they choose," he said.

Some victims believe the rodents were attracted to soybean-based wiring under the hood of their cars, and indeed several automakers have been hit with lawsuits over soy wiring and its appeal to animals.

But Carfax said the truth is that rodents just like to chew, soy wires or not, and that can lead to hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damage.

"That could be wiring harnesses, that can be the plastic parts of cars," Olsen said.

Some things you can do

 Carfax shared some ways to keep this from happening.

- If possible, keep your car in a garage and always close your windows and sunroof.

- Remove all trash and food from inside your car.

- Set rodent traps around it (such as sticky mouse traps).

- Use scents like peppermint oil or cayenne pepper, although these wear off over time.

If the problem persists, Honda sells a rodent-deterrent tape that you can wrap around your engine's wiring harnesses. Detrinidad has also tried a sound repellent but said that it doesn't seem to be working.

"I guess it's just like a little rave going on in there and they've just gotten used to it," she said of the sound emitter in her engine compartment.

It’s not a problem to ignore. If they chew through a major wiring harness, that can cost well over $1,000 to replace.

Plus, Olsen said, "A lot of them can carry disease, and if they're in your cabin air filter, that is blowing right into the face of you and your family."

So check your engine compartment for the first signs of rodent damage and take action immediately.