Mice infestations are one of the most annoying problems that a property owner can face. Not only are mice dirty and disease-ridden, but they also cause destruction to furniture and wiring. The problem doesn’t stop with households — mice also infest cars, and they can damage your vehicle if you don't combat the situation.
Inside vehicles, mice are known to crawl into vents, where they can easily die and fill a car with stench in the process. Mice also eat away at various wires, components, tubes and circuitry under the hood. Consequently, if you do nothing to fight a mice infestation in your car, you run the risk of having future performance issues with the vehicle.
People often ask how to keep mice out of vehicles. When you Google the phrase "how to get rid of mice in car,” dozens of pages come up that offer impractical advice such as spraying the doors of your car with hot sauce. The problem of having a mouse in your car is no laughing matter. This article covers the basics of how to get rid of a mouse in your car, as well as how to keep mice out of your car engine, air filter, air vents and passenger space.
How Do Mice Get in Cars?
Though your car might seem protected when you lock it and turn on the alarm, mice have a way of getting into all types of vehicles. Due to the small size of mice, it's easy for them to squeeze through openings smaller than a dime. In most cases, they'll crawl up from under the engine and make their way to other areas once inside. The following are among the most common entry points that mice will use to access a car:
- Holes around cables
- Pedal shafts
- Steering columns
Mice can also make their way into your car if you leave your windows cracked. Therefore, it's important to keep a car inaccessible and unattractive to mice.
What Time of Year Do Mice Seek Shelter in Cars?
Mice are active year-round, but their behaviors vary according to the season. In the summertime, they're often going in and out of buildings in search of food, water, and nesting materials and spaces. During winter, they're more likely to spend more time indoors. As a nocturnal creature, mice are primarily active from dusk till dawn, when few people or animals are likely to see them.
Since it's in the nature of mice to look for shelter from cold and rain, they're likeliest to nest in cars during winter. Cars parked outdoors are especially vulnerable, though mice will also infest cars within garages, provided the garage itself is accessible to the little critters.
How to Prevent Mice From Coming Into Your Car
When you open your glove compartment to reach for a map, pen or pair of sunglasses, the last thing you want to see or feel is a live or dead mouse. There are certain parking areas and circumstances where a rodent-free vehicle cannot be 100 percent guaranteed, but the following tips can lower the odds of mice entering your car:
- Keep your car clean. If your car is filled with junk — paper, garbage, tissues, cups, fast-food bags — it can be a magnet for mice. In a sense, your car has been used as a dumpster, which is always the ideal kind of place for mice to hide, nest, sleep and find food.
- Don't allow moisture to build up inside your vehicle. Mice thrive on water and therefore are attracted to moist areas. It's important to keep condensation from building up in your vehicle. Moisture can be caused by any number of problems, such as a blocked pollen filter or a leak in the heater. Damp clothing can also contribute to the problem. If condensation persists night after night, have your car inspected to locate the cause of the issue.
- Keep foliage away from your car. When autumn leaves fall, mice have plenty of places to seek shelter from the rain. A car, however, is an even more inviting place for mice. When foliage surrounds your car, a literal pathway is formed right to your vehicle. By contrast, mice are less likely to enter your car when they can’t come anywhere near it.
- Don't leave openings into your vehicle. If one of the doors is slightly ajar, or the sunroof or one of the windows won't close all the way, your car could easily become a mice haven.
While the above tips can greatly reduce the likelihood of mice targeting your car, any vehicle is at risk unless repellents are applied to keep mice out. Homemade pepper formulas aren't really the best way to go, because they can be messy, smelly, and you need to constantly reapply them.
What to Check in Your Car for Rodent Damage
Rodents can cause damage to numerous parts of a vehicle, from the ignition wires and air vents to the interior upholstery and hood insulation. Mice can be especially damaging, because the enamel in their teeth is strong enough to gnaw through all sorts of inner-vehicle components. Common signs that rodents have been active in a vehicle include:
- Gnawed wires around the engine
- Shredded gauze in the air vent
- Chewed insulation and upholstery
- Chew holes in nonmetal engine components
- Claw marks and droppings
In some cases, the damage can get so intense that a car won't start. Even if mice don't invade the passenger area, a flashing check-engine light could indicate damage under the hood of a vehicle. Rodent control in vehicles is more than just a sanitation concern — mice-proofing a vehicle is critical to the engine's operation.
How to Keep Mice Out of Your Car Engine
Parking your car indoors is always ideal, because it sets up a buffer zone between the vehicle and the outdoors. There are more steps you can take to protect your car, just in case mice do make their way inside the garage area. If you have a cat, place its litter box in the garage and have the cat patrol the garage for a few hours each night. Cats can be one of the greatest assets in this regard, since they're the natural predators of mice. Another way to scare off mice is to place a rubber snake under the car.
Is There a Mouse in Your Car Vent or Air Conditioner?
Few odors are more rank than the smell of a dead mouse inside a vehicle. When a mouse dies inside a car, it usually occurs near one of the air vents, and it's often made painfully obvious once a car is powered on and the fans or heater activate. In cases like these, the mice are often located inside the cowl at the base of the windshield. Some mice manage to access this area through crevices between the cowl gutter and fender. When this occurs, the mice should be removed, preferably by an auto maintenance specialist. The odds of this occurring can be lowered with the placement of Victor® Scent-Away granules around the engine's air intake chute.
Best Mouse Trap for Cars
Every now and then, mice are bound to enter a car, regardless of how much care is taken to prevent it from happening. If mice do start infesting your vehicle, it's time to consider a mouse trap from Victor®, which come in several different designs. The simplest traps include the Metal Pedal Mouse Trap — which you can bait with peanut butter and place inside your vehicle — and the Easy Set® Mouse Trap that comes pre-baited.
Another type of Victor® mouse trap that can be used in cars is the Power-Kill™ Mouse Trap. All traps can be placed behind or in front of your car's seats, as well as in the trunk. Note, it is not recommended that activated traps be placed in a car when there are individuals inside. Also, always use the traps as directed and make sure children and pets have no access to the areas where the traps are set.
How to Dispose of a Dead Mouse in Your Car
There may be times when a mouse will have made it past the obstacles, only to end its journey inside your car. When it comes to removing dead mice from a vehicle, it's important to follow sanitation guidelines due to the bacteria and diseases that rodents carry and leave in their wake.
First and foremost, you should never handle a mouse with your bare hands. With rubber gloves, complete the following steps of rodent removal:
- Seal the carcass in two Ziploc bags and dispose in outdoor trash can
- Wipe the area of mice activity clean with paper towels, and then dispose of towels
- Mix 1.5 cups bleach with a gallon of water
- Using a sponge, saturate infected areas of your vehicle with the mixture
- Dispose of sponge and gloves
After you're finished with the cleansing process, lather your hands, forearms and under your nails with antibacterial bar soap for five minutes and rinse with warm water.
Keep Rodents Away
There's no guaranteed, definite way to keep mice from ever entering your vehicle. Still, you can greatly reduce the chances of rodents coming near your car by keeping the passenger area clean and the vehicle itself parked away from rodent-friendly surroundings. Furthermore, a powerful rodent repellent for cars will cause mice in the vast majority of settings to skip your vehicle for more inviting havens. When all else fails Victor® Snap Traps are a reliable tool for killing mice living inside your car.