Keep rodents out of your stored vehicle

December 6, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance
A dead brown rat.For those of us who love old chrome, nothing is more disheartening than finding that rodents have taken up residence inside a safely garaged classic. It can happen faster than you think since this time of year, rats, squirrels and mice actively look for places to nest and, unfortunately, chew. They can cause major wiring damage including flickering headlights, stuck gauges, inoperable windows or a car that won’t start. Rodents also can quickly destroy upholstery and headliners if they make their way to the car’s interior.  

Why rodents seek out vehicles 

Besides offering shelter, a stored vehicle provides a dark, quiet, low-traffic environment, particularly if it’s kept under a dust cover. It also yields chewable surfaces, which are important to rodents because they must constantly gnaw to keep their ever-growing incisors filed down. Wires coated in palatable soy-based sheathing seem especially attractive. 

Three ways to discourage rodents  

  1. Inspect, honk the horn and start the vehicle once a week. Rodents prefer to avoid human disturbance. As an added bonus, it’s good to regularly circulate your engine’s oil and other fluids. 

  1. Park in a garage. Many garages don’t seal tightly enough to be rodent-proof (let alone during times when the door is open), but you’ll at least spot signs of their activity sooner than if the vehicle is parked outside. Keep the car’s windows closed, but the hood up, if possible. Bright overhead garage lighting discourages rodents seeking a dark, cozy den. If you keep your garbage can inside the garage, don’t dispose of food scraps in it. The smell will attract rodents. 

  1. Use non-toxic repellants. Although we haven’t tested or endorse any of these solutions, DIYers have reported success discouraging rats with peppermint oil, Irish Spring soap, Pine-Sol cleaner and even dryer sheets. Your local parts store also offers a selection of rodent-repelling sachets or rodent-deterring tape (it contains capsaicin – the “hot” in chili peppers) that you can wrap around wires.  

If it’s too late and you already see evidence of rodent activity like droppings or chewed nesting materials, resist the temptation to use poison bait. It can be dangerous to pets, and you run the risk of a rodent dying and decomposing inside your garage walls or deep in your car’s engine compartment. You may want to try old-fashioned snap traps, positioned out of reach of kids and pets. Some pest-control experts recommend using PayDay candy bars as bait. The nuts attract rodents and the pliable, sticky center makes it easy to mold to the trap’s trigger. If the thought of a DIY solution makes you squeamish, a pest-control company can help control the problem or even put you on an ongoing maintenance plan. 

Your PEMCO policy covers rodent damage (minus your deductible), provided you have Comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. If you have questions, talk with your local PEMCO agent or call us at 800-GO-PEMCO. 

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