Everyone loves to cozy up during cold weather – including rats and mice. For them, your stored vehicle makes a great haven to nest and, unfortunately, chew. That can mean major wiring damage within hours of a rodent break-in, including flickering headlights, stuck gauges, frozen windows, or a car that just plain won't start.
Why would rats invade my car?
From a rat's eye view, your stored vehicle looks like an all-inclusive resort: A comfortable bed, good food (yep, those petrified French fries behind the kids' car seats), and loads of indulgences. Rodents are born chewers (they must keep their ever-growing incisors filed down), and flexible, gnawable wires – sometimes made with yummy soy-based sheathing – are as irresistible as beach drinks with tiny umbrellas.
Hang out the No Vacancy sign
Here are three inexpensive ways to send rats packing:
Inspect and start the vehicle once a week. Rats don't like pesky disturbances any more than you do. And as an added bonus, it's good to circulate your engine's oil and other fluids.
Park in a garage. Most garages are far from critter-proof, but you'll at least spot signs of rodent activity sooner than if the vehicle is parked outside. You'll also want to keep windows closed, but the hood up, if possible. The bright light from your garage fluorescents discourages rodents seeking a dark, cozy den. If you want to try trapping, choose old-fashioned snap-traps (safer for pets and the environment than using poisons). And here's a baiting hack: Use PayDay candy bars. Rats, mice, and squirrels can't resist the nuts in the candy, and its gooey caramel and nougat center makes it easy to mold to the trap's trigger.
Make it stinky (to a rat). 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 can help you win the rat wars with rodent-repelling sachets or rodent-deterring tape (it contains capsaicin – the "hot" in chili peppers) that you can wrap around wires.
If all your precautions fail, know that your PEMCO policy does cover rodent damage (minus your deductible), provided you have Comprehensive coverage. If you have questions, call us at 1-800-GO-PEMCO.