Prevent Rodents from Disabling Your Vehicle

Rats gnawed on this battery | photo by Samantha Gordon | post by Larry Clinton

A neighbor just had to have her van towed out of the Gate 6 ½ parking lot to repair damage from rodents. This and similar reports from our community prompted a bit of internet research into suggestions for preventing this kind of damage.

Here are some tips from Consumer Reports:

There are specially made spray products that promise to deter rodents that you could mist under the hood and around the vehicle, if garaged. Peppermint oil and cayenne pepper are reported to deter rodents. Note that spray products will need to be reapplied routinely, because they can wear away and rinse off.

There are ultrasonic devices that emit sounds to deter rodents, but at a frequency that humans can’t hear. However, their effectiveness is in doubt.

For storage, placing mothballs under the hood can help. (Don’t use them inside the car, or you’ll be stuck with that awful smell.)

There is a clever solution from Honda: rodent-deterrent tape, essentially an electrical tape treated with super-spicy capsaicin, which Honda describes as “the stuff that puts the fire in a bowl of five-alarm chili.” The tape (part number 4019-2317) comes in a 20-meter roll, about 22 yards, and it is available through dealers and available online ($43).

We bought a roll of Honda’s rodent-deterrent tape to check it out. Beyond the cute rat graphics and gray color, it deceptively seems like regular electrical tape to us humans. There is no tear-inducing odor, but it does carry a label that warns against prolonged exposure to skin. Despite dares and double dares, we did not taste it and will trust that it is potent enough to deter even the most ravenous varmint.

Other suggestions include:

  • Checking to see if any nests are forming in the engine area, and clearing out nesting debris and other unwanted items to discourage the rodents.
  • Installing a metal mesh around wiring harnesses and rubber hoses and across any openings where rodents could crawl into your ventilation or intake systems.
  • Purchasing an inexpensive, generic box of dryer sheets, or using your favorite brand if you don’t mind paying the price. Mice and other rodents typically detest the smell of dryer sheets. Place the sheets under the hood and inside the car.
  • Placing rubber snakes under your car. Squirrels, mice and other rodents are fearful of snakes and will usually steer clear. Change out the snakes every few days or weeks to keep the rodents from growing accustomed to them. Coat the snakes in peppermint oil for an added deterrent.
  • Place a can of ammonia near or underneath the car. Rats do not like the scent. They will likely move from the location.
  • Put some hot pepper or wasabi around the area where the rats are living.
  • Regularly run your car to clear out mice from your engine. Rodents tend to pick cars that are immobile and stored for long periods of time. Run the car and drive around the block before parking in a different spot.

If the rodents are winning the war despite following these tips, reach out to a local pest control service. They are trained in how to best combat stubborn rodent issues and can address your specific challenges.