Repelling the Recurring Ravenous Rodent
March 7, 2018 6:21 AM   Subscribe

We went away for a long weekend, leaving Mr. Jane's truck parked in our suburban driveway. Upon our return, the truck was running oddly. Took it in to the dealer and found that a rodent had crawled up in the truck and chewed through a bunch of hoses and wiring. Yesterday, after parking the truck in the driveway overnight, (after another weekend trip, on which we took the truck) the truck is running poorly. The rodent has AGAIN chewed up hoses and wiring. We would like this to stop. How?

If it matters, the truck is a Nissan Frontier. My Subaru Outback was parked in the driveway, in the same spot as the truck was for the 3 days we were gone. If this happens to someone else, our insurance did cover the $1700 repair, less deductible.
posted by sarajane to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Maybe attach some mothballs or a vial of fox urine to the underside of the vehicle? Or, if not to the car, maybe place some vials around where you park it. You can get fox urine at garden stores.

Similar thing happened to me, though only once. Chewed right through my gas line. Insurance is a nice thing when you need it.
posted by bondcliff at 6:37 AM on March 7

Can you install a device that makes ultrasonic noises that rodents dislike? That's what we do over here to keep martens out of the car, and it's also supposed to work against rodents.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:43 AM on March 7

When I had signs of rodents, my mechanic tucked dryer sheets in various areas. My rodent issue didn't progress to the point of chewing through important things after the dryer sheet remedy. It might have been luck.

My car was a country vehicle at the time (ie parked in the woods under a tree) and my mechanic was a small town/country mechanic. I mention the country aspect because rodent issues were a fairly everyday kind of problem out in the woods.
posted by countrymod at 6:53 AM on March 7

When we lived in an area with many rodents my husband made a solar powered light and each night we would prop open the hood and set up the light. It was a bit of a pain but far less of a pain than the cost of replacing wiring harness etc. Our cars never had any problems. My father-in-law's car was another story - we never did the light trick with his car and I think the packages of sunflower seeds he had tucked all over were like a welcome sign to those rodents. You really don't want one to die in the HVAC system.
posted by a22lamia at 7:15 AM on March 7

I have a friend whose car was totaled by mice eating all the wires and hoses. Her insurance did eventually pay but it was a fight to get them to ante up. I don't know how you repel them to prevent further chomping.
posted by leslies at 8:01 AM on March 7

You don't necessarily need to attach the mothballs. Placing them under the car should do the trick. Just follow the instructions on the package for handling them (don't touch them with bare skin, don't breathe the fumes, etc.)

Probably also a good idea to find out what kind of rodent and where they're living in case you need to, say, call animal control or an exterminator.
posted by asperity at 8:10 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

Similar experience with Toyota Tacoma. I mention Toyota because I recall the wiring they use(d) was particularly attractive to mice and other rodents. Check around Nissan boards and see if they use(d) the same wiring with similar results. There may be a class action claim brewing. Sorry to be so vague - in the middle of painting a room.
posted by KneeDeep at 8:49 AM on March 7

In addition to the repellents, for long weekends, I've seen lots of people do a "porcupine wrap" where you kind of wrap up the undercarriage with tarps and rope and make it hard to get in. However for a smaller rodent they might just chew through the tarp as well.
posted by cakebatter at 9:20 AM on March 7

It turns out that some auto makers in the early 2000s switched to a new soy based plastic insulation that rodents love. This may explain why they went for your Nissan but left your Subaru alone. They may have different insulation.

There have been some class action lawsuits related to this, so you might check that out.
posted by JackFlash at 10:09 AM on March 7

This happened to a 99 Toyota we used to have, and I was disappointed that our outdoor cats were not on patrol against rodents in cars. Only happened once through.
posted by mermayd at 11:38 AM on March 7

This recently happened to two different people who park near me at work. One of them was told by their mechanic to make the car smell like peppermint and it'll repel them. She literally said, "buy some Altoids and throw them around the car" - thought there may be a neater way.
posted by jdl at 1:22 PM on March 7

This just happened to our Honda Civic, which was parked on the street of a major US city. When we towed it in, the dealership offered to wrap a tape with hot pepper in it around the new wiring. We took them up on it, and haven't had any more problems (yet).
posted by neko75 at 1:27 PM on March 7

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