Rats Hiding in Car Engines During Cold Weather

It’s cold out there! Everything wants to escape the cold weather and stay warm and that includes pack rats. We have already seen several vehicles that have sustained damage from these critters sharpening their teeth on wires, plastic and rubber hoses. One customer sustained over $700 in damages, while another at approximately $300.

How much wire is in your vehicle? According to the Collision Repair and Refinishing: A Foundation Course for Technicians Manual, the average vehicle contains over 30 miles of wiring. How to prevent this damage? Here are some tips to keep your vehicle safe!

Tips To Prevent Pack Rats From Attacking Your Vehicle

Be Alert. If you park outside keep your eyes open for rat droppings and pieces of cactus that show up near or under your vehicle. Lift and check under the hood often. Be extra careful when heavy rain or cold weather may cause rats in the area to look for better quarters.

Check for pack rat nests. Look around in the nearby area for pack rat nests. A single female may be responsible for as many as 20 young a year, all who need to find new homes (like your vehicle) as they mature. Solution? Remove nearby nests which can significantly reduce the risk of attack, however, before removing a nest, the resident rats should be trapped. That alternative shelter will most likely be your car.

• Rat-Proof Your Garage. It only takes an opening the size of a nickel for a pack rat to enter a garage. They are excellent climbers and can enter no matter if the hole is high or low. Rats are attracted to an area they can enter, not large predators, so a poorly sealed garage is worse than parking outside.

• Open Space. If a rat-proof garage is not available, park the vehicle in the most open area possible. The ideal area for the vehicle will have at least five to ten feet of totally clear space on all four sides with no trees or other cover above the vehicle.

• No Stored Items Close By. If a carport is the only shelter for the vehicle, remove all items such as boxes, yard tools, and trash containers.

• Vegetation Trimmed. Keep all vegetation in the immediate area well-trimmed. You should be able to clearly see under and behind all bushes and other plants that are anywhere near the vehicle. You also want to avoid rock borders that rats can hide next to.

• Hood Open. For many vehicles, leaving the hood open takes away the sense of enclosure and protection that the rat is seeking. If you choose to leave the hood open, be sure to disconnect any internal engine compartment lights to avoid a dead battery in the morning. Also, secure the hood with some type of strap if high winds are a possibility. Leaving the hood open does not work as well on newer vehicles with engine covers and shrouds that still offer plenty of hiding areas.

• Light. A utility light hanging from above with an open hood works best. Be sure to use a yellow “bug” bulb to minimize flying insects. A light under the car may help, but not as much as light from above. Lights are not effective on newer cars with engine covers and shrouds.

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