How to Keep Rats Out of Your Car

Keeping rats out of a car may be one of the most challenging things ever, no one really wants to drive these guests around. Rats can damage your car pretty well and it is one of the most unhygienic situations to deal with.

In this article, you will find tips to keep those pests out of your vehicle and learn how to get rid of rats from your car in case you already have them.

Keeping rats out of your car is important

Why do Rats get In Your Car?

Rats are always seeking shelter and safe places to hide and thrive. It happens that your car is in the perfect place with those conditions as well. It has many vacant spaces, and things to chew and it is warm and cozy. Rats can enter your car by climbing on the tires or grills and making their way up.

Holes in the engine compartment and in body panels make some good potential entry points.

When cold weather arrives, a car provides a warm place thanks to the engine heat and gives the perfect hideout from predators. Fabrics in the engine compartment and chewed wires can make the perfect nesting material, further sheltering rats from cold temperatures.

The parking space also makes a huge impact on the risk of attracting rats into your car. Parking areas that are near food sources such as dumpsters, chicken cooks, bird feeders, and bushes with wild berries or nuts will put your vehicle at risk.

The smell your ride emancipates also plays a role in attracting a rodent problem into your car. Leaving food inside will get the rat’s attention and it’s a sure invitation to a great meal.

As this situation increases and time goes by, urine and droppings may accumulate, this will signal to other rats that your car is a great spot to hang out. Rats search for fresh activity in order to get potential meals and shelter.

Another problem is that newer vehicles (2008-202X) are built with eco-friendly plastics. All though this is great for the planet it is also true that these bioplastics are made with a soy derivative that is extremely attractive to rats.

This sometimes results in a total loss for certain vehicles, depending on the length of the damage done by rats in the wiring panels.

Where You Can Find Rat Nests in Your Car

These are some of the areas a car that rats use to make nests:

  • Vents: In the vents, rats can have great access to food and heat near the engine. Rats will chew cables and hide in the dark areas in the engine.
  • Trunk: Trunks are like parks for rats, they are big and make the perfect location for nesting if they are not accessed for a long time.
  • Air Filter Boxes: Some cars have huge filter boxes that make a great place for nesting.
  • Dashboard Interior Compartments: These compartments are also the perfect place for nesting, there are inaccessible parts of this compartment that can house rats for months before you realize that you have a rat problem.
  • Batteries: Batteries are warm and rats love to sleep on top of them.
  • Seats: In bellow seats, there are compartments where rats love to nest, this is especially true for back seats.

Damage Rats Can Make in Your Car

Rats can cause mechanical and cosmetic damage to your car not to mention the health and safety concerns that follow up.

They are vectors for serious diseases (salmonella, leptospirosis, and hantavirus), having these pests nesting in your vehicle air filter compartment means you are pushing and breathing rat’s nasties such as fecal particles, dander, and others, every time your turn the ventilation on.

This will put you and other occupants in serious health danger.

There are also mechanical malfunctions caused by rats that can eventually pose life-threatening situations.

Situations, where light or the radio doesn’t work, are a mere bummer, but when rats mess up with the brakes or steering system, your life and the lives of your passengers will be at serious risk.

Also, rat-chewed debris can block your engine’s air inflow resulting in a dead engine that won’t start.

Some of the signs that can show rat damage in your car include:

  • Bad Smells
  • Footprints
  • Urine and Droppings
  • Claw Marks and Scratch Marks
  • Stockpiled food
  • Nesting materials, shredded fabric, leaves, sticks, etc
  • Chewed filters, wires, upholstery
  • Check engine light lit

How to Get Rid of Rats in Your Car Engine

Here are some clever ways to get rid of rats from your car engine:

  • Clean your vehicle and keep it free of food debris and clutter.
  • If possible park in a garage.
  • Once in a while clean your engine with a steam wash.
  • Keep your vehicle in an area that is clear of dumpsters with food debris and/or wild trees with nuts or berries.
  • When you park in your garage leave the engine hood of your car open
  • Alternate your parking spots, go for open areas where rats don’t have much chance against predators.
  • Hunt down existing rats with snap traps or glue boards.
  • Insist in getting rid of rats all-around your house.
  • Use rat repellents, like peppermint oil spray.
  • Protect fragile wires that are the most exposed to rats with capsaicin wiring tape.

Signs That Indicate Rat Presence in Your Car

If you already have rats in your car, you need to take action as soon as possible, the longer you wait, the more are the chances that the damage will be devastating. These are the clear signs that you already have a rat invasion in your car.

  • Smell: You will come across some new unpleasant smell, it will not be clear at first but it will smell like a bad odor nevertheless.
  • Noises: Rats make scratching noises, chewing noises, and even squeaks. If you can hear these noises they are not a coincidence, you have rats.
  • Chewing marks: New car models might not have them since they have better-sealed compartments but it is common that older vehicles might show chewing marks on the inside. Check for them on the floor mat, seat belts, seats, and so on.
  • Unresponsive dashboard electronics: Since rats usually chew wires you might experience malfunctions in the car dashboard functions. This may appear as a faulty radio, lights, temperature sensor, etc.
  • Broken car: In the worst-case scenario, your car will not start at all or may even shut down while driving.

How to Protect Your Car From Rats for Good

Now that you know how to get rid of rats from your car here are some other main tips to keep them out for good. These are preventive measures to help you fight against rats in the long run.

1. Clean the Area Around You

Do a check-up in the area around you to find and terminate potential hiding and breeding places for rats.

Areas like bushes and grassy areas usually hide burrows and other holes that rats use to enter and run from predators. Also, unattended trash and abandoned boxes have the same end for rats.

Get rid of these inconvenient places and keep the are litter-free and non-cluttered. This is more hygienic and will ensure rats don’t find a conducive habitat around your car.

2. Keep the Area Food-Free

Rats need food for surviving, having food in and around your vehicle is bound to attract rats, so cutting food sources will keep them out.

It is also important to eliminate spillage. Children tend to drop food crumbs so keep an eye for that.

If you have pets outside, keep their pet food inside the house or at least have a feeding schedule to avoid having food lying around. Rats love to eat anything that smells and if they can get their teeth on it, they will eat it.

3. Have a Light Everywhere

Rats tend to prefer nesting in dark places, they don’t like light, and this is especially true during their sleeping hours.

Consider having more light in your garage or at least have the area clear without many hiding spots where air can flow and light can reach easily.

Keeping your car hood open once you arrive at your garage will dissipate the engine’s heat and will light it from rats.

This discourages them to get inside, during the day you might expose your car to some direct sunlight in order to get the same effect.

4. Peppermint Oil Spray

Rats have sensible noses and they hate peppermint oil spray or even homemade cayenne pepper spray, it is an effective rat deterrent.

You can use a few drops in cotton balls and place them strategically where you please.

Please note that the cotton balls lose their sense after a few days, so this is not a permanent solution, but you can repeat the procedure for better results.

5. Block All Potential Entries

If you have detected an entry point for rats, seal it as soon as possible with a mesh.

Rat entry points can be hard to detect because they are experts in squeezing through tiny holes. Use effective materials such as cement and others to ensure that the sealed spot will hold a rat trying to enter.

6. Rat Traps

Another option is to use rat traps, there are snappers and electrical traps that can be super effective against rats, these kill the rats fast and don’t cause any suffering.

There are other gadgets that vibrate or emanate a certain sound that only rats can hear, they are activated through sensor-motion.

Rats hate these frequencies and will avoid getting near them. These traps are very effective against rat nesting in your place.

7. Move Your Parked Car

If you have an unused car please make sure you fire it once in a while or it may turn into a breeding space for rats.

The perfect solution is to move it from spot to spot every week in your garage. Don’t leave your car without working for a long period of time or it might turn into a rat’s playground sooner than you expect.

8. Consider a Pet

Rats fear other pets (if they are not used to them). Rats will think twice about getting inside your vehicle if you have a cat or a dog patrolling the area around it.

Using pets can be a good idea since they are great biological deterrents against rats. If you prefer cats, know that cat litter can be effective such as good rodent deterrents or similar products.

9. Poison

This should be your last option against rats, keep it clear from your children and pets.

Also, make sure other wildlife animals don’t consume it or don’t eat poisoned dead rats. Be very careful when using this method to get rid of rats from your car and surroundings.

Use the Following Tips to Keep Rodents Out of Your Car for Good

  • Always have all the doors of your car closed to prevent a rat infestation in your vehicle, even small openings, like a partially open window, can become a point of entry for them.
  • Use preventative measures such as repellent products as an effective solution against a rodent infestation.
  • Repellent spray and electronic deterrent devices can have great success in fighting off mice infestation from the mechanical systems of your car.
  • It is always a good idea to store food out and away from your vehicle, this goes for cat food, dog food, and human food as well.
  • If you have a classic car or an old car keep moving it around the place to avoid rodent damage, this is valid as well for modern cars.
  • Rats can do significant damage to your car, so be aware that not every insurance company will cover these expenses, be smart and always maintain a closed garage door.