Damned dirty rat!
October 2, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Help! Mice are eating my car and, subsequently, my bank account.

I returned from Labor Day to find that my car would not start. It took almost a week, but the mechanics finally found a chewed wire. Diagnosis: mouse. The bill was $160. Less than our worst fears, but still a big bill. Now, the car won't start, there's a pool of anti-freeze in my driveway, and the tow truck is on it's way.

I know I have a repeat offender, how do I get rid of it? My car is always parked in the driveway, we live in a typical city neighborhood with a large park near by. I, and many of the neighbors, have indoor/outdoor cats. So, not only is 'get a cat' not helpful, but poison is off the table, too.

Can I put traps around the engine block of my car? And if I forget that it's there and it falls into the works while I driving 60mph?

Also, is there anything special I should have the mechanics look at while they're under the hood?

I've read the previous query (58158) and googled and looked at Car Talk. Hopefully, the hive mind will have something to add.
posted by wg to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: argh... while I'm driving
posted by wg at 12:36 PM on October 2, 2007

You might want to make sure Mickey & Co. are not, you know, residents of your vehicle.

[BTW, giving names to rodent that are on Death Row is not a good idea if you want to avoid kids crying "You killed Mickey!"]
posted by trinity8-director at 12:38 PM on October 2, 2007

Park it in the garage, close the door(s) and leave the engine running. Give them carbon monoxide poisoning. (Only half kidding).

I wonder what would happen if you sprayed something like bitter apple over the metal parts of your car? If it's flammable, then obviously that's a big no-no, but it might make the car less appetising.

I'm curious as to why a mouse would be attracted to chew on metal parts of your car in the first place, though.
posted by Solomon at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2007

Do you live near a fast food place? A friend of mine lived next to a KFC, and evidently the rats would crawl under his still-warm vehicle with a snack. The person who eventually repaired the car found a crazy amount of chicken bones! Make sure there's no food or garbage making the car more appealing; that's probably a start.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 12:51 PM on October 2, 2007

I had a squirrel get into my engine one September and make my alternator belt jump its track. Critters will get up into the engine of a vehicle to keep warm when the nights get chilly. If you live in a cold area, this will solve itself as the mouse bunks down for the winter, but in the meantime, park the car in the garage (if you have one) to cut down on the unwanted intruders.

Also, my mother puts a strong-smelling soap in her car to discourage mice - she prefers Irish Spring. But this is a car that gets put up on blocks during the winter. Spraying something foul-smelling on the car might not be a bad idea, so long as it's not flammable, as solomon says.
posted by LN at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2007

Response by poster: No garage. As for odor-ific ideas, as long as I can tolerate the smell, I'll try anything. How long would a pepper spray or bitter apple stay on the wires, etc?
posted by wg at 1:18 PM on October 2, 2007

Do you have a cat, or perhaps a friend with one? Take a few clumps of used litter and put them underneath the car when it's parked. Predator pee smell is a rodent deterrent. You can buy the stuff from various garden supply vectors (used to keep deer and other pests out of gardens), but if you happen to have a neverending source of it for free somewhere it'll work just as well.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:37 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had chipmunks. A lot of chipmunks. And boy did they love my car. I almost had a fire one day -- dried acorns in the engine! I think they were attracted to my car for the warmth. My solution (okay, it was coincidental) was to get a new car and move away.

Towards the end, though, I was just putting mousetraps under my car. I couldn't use poison either, since I have a dog. But she couldn't get under the car, so the mousetraps were safe. (Not sure if that's the case with your cat!) I wouldn't try putting them in the car, for the reasons you describe.

(And I know you don't have a garage, but for the others: parking in the garage led to problems with mice in my car and mice in the garage.)
posted by fogster at 1:55 PM on October 2, 2007

posted by caddis at 2:33 PM on October 2, 2007

More tips.
posted by blackkar at 5:27 PM on October 2, 2007

Vocabulary fix for the FPP: wg, you probably meant "consequently" (as a consequence of eating your car, the mice are metaphorically eating into your savings), rather than "subsequently" (after eating your car, the mice have started on your bank account).

"Subsequent" on the Free Dictionary.

"Consequent" on the Free Dictionary.
posted by kandinski at 6:34 PM on October 2, 2007

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:11 PM on October 2, 2007

With an SO who works for the park service, I've discovered this is a common problem. Mice, chipmunks, squirrels... Everyone who lives at the park props their hood open at night, using a stick. This somehow discourages the critters. I've left my car there for a week with the hood propped open, and had no problems. Good luck!
posted by shifafa at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2007

I seem to remember a family member wrapping crumpled up aluminum foil taped on with duct tape in such a circumstance.
posted by kch at 9:10 PM on October 2, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. I'll try spraying the area with ammonia; predator pee makes sense. I also thought to take the bell off my cat for now. He's a proven killer without it. And, I'll chat with the mechanics about covering the wires in aluminum foil and duct tape.

kandinski... I'm certain that the vocabulary lesson will not change the fact that mice are eating my car.
posted by wg at 9:56 AM on October 3, 2007

My mum once shredded a kitten in the engine of her car during a rainstorm in which the poor feline was attempting to escape swiftly rising water. When the car bucked and shook and started smoking, she took it to the service station, where the very nice attendant told her exactly what had happened in there when she turned the key. She was mortified. But that orignal mortification was multiplied when he only charged her $20 to clean it out. She left him a large tip, feeling that cleaning kitty goo out of an engine was outside just about everyone's job description.

Perhaps a little cheese on your engine would do the trick...
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:30 AM on October 30, 2007

Response by poster: I'm bringing my car home for the second time. I had it last time for about 24hrs before the same damage was done; same hose, same wiring harness. I didn't even have the chance to try any of the advice here. The running total of damage has been close to $2000. Ouch! Thank you comprehensive coverage!

The mechanics have coated all wiring and hoses with white lithium grease. I'm also hoping that since my car has been in and out of the repair shop for almost two months that the rats/squirrels/demons have moved on.
posted by wg at 7:21 AM on November 6, 2007

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