Knotted wires. Damaged upholstery. Bad smell. These are all clear signs that you may have a mouse living in your car.
While mice can be small, they can create major problems for you and your vehicle. A single mouse can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your car in a few days. And the diseases they carry can also be harmful to your health.
If you suspect that a mouse has made your car their new home, the best course of action is to get it out – quickly. Keep reading to find out tips that will help you track down any unwanted rodents as passengers and keep them out for good – and learn how your car insurance can help if something goes wrong.
How do I know if a mouse lives in my car?
There are several ways you can see if a mouse is alive in your vehicle:
- Car problem: Unfortunately, some drivers only discover a gnawing problem after their car does not start or does not work properly. This is often caused by mice chewing through wires in the engine compartment. A mouse or rat will gnaw on wires as a way to sharpen its teeth. And there is some evidence that mice find that newer soy-based wire insulation materials are also quite delicious. With so many complex electrical systems in modern cars, chewing up is almost a guaranteed problem.
- Damaged upholstery: If a mouse has decided to make a new home in your car, it will start by looking for materials to build a nest. Lucky for that mouse … lots of things in your car can work perfectly. If you find holes in your seats, missing pieces of insulation or chewed up foam, you may have a mouse problem.
- Mouse masses: Like all pest attacks, finding animal waste is a pretty good indicator that you have a problem. Look for small mouse drops on your car's carpets, seat and dashboard.
- Bad smell: If you detect a bad smell from your car, it may be due to pest problems. Often, drivers will first detect these odors from the car's air vents. Mice can use the ventilation system as a tunnel to get from the engine compartment to the car's interior. And valves often provide easy access to insulation and filter materials that they can use to build nests. Over time, a musty odor can develop from musurin (coarse, we know). And if the smell is really bad, there is a chance that the rodent may have died inside.
- Musbo: Finding a musbo is the easiest way to confirm your rodent suspicions. The first place to look is in the car's airbox (this is where the engine's air filter is located). Mice love this place because it is warm and protected from the elements. Open the drawer and look for signs of rodent freeloaders. The area should be empty and relatively clean, so it will be clear if there is a nest inside. You should also check under the car's plastic engine cover if it has one.
Why do mice nest in a car?
If you suspect that mice live in your car, they have moved in for one or more of the following reasons:
- Protection: When looking for a home, the safety of mice is a top priority. Your car provides protection against predators and elements. And if it has not been running for a while, it becomes even more desirable. (Read our list of tips on how to protect your car when you are not driving it.)
- Food: Mice are also looking for places to live nearby that are close to a food source. This can be a factor if you store pet food in the garage or park outside near the building's dumpster. If you have a habit of leaving food, crumbs or debris in the car, the mouse will surely stick.
- Heat: This is a factor during the winter months. After driving your car, the engine will radiate heat for hours ̵
How does a mouse get into my car?
Even if you leave your doors closed and your windows rolled up, there are many ways for a mouse to get into your car. In the engine compartment, the air inlet provides a direct path to the airbox, where mice love to build nests. And from the engine compartment, a mouse can squeeze into your car through a valve or hole designed for wires, cables, pedals or your steering wheel.
What type of damage can a mouse cause?
A certain mouse or rat can chew through all kinds of materials – including plastic and metal. This means that they can cause significant damage to your vehicle.
The biggest problems are caused when a mouse chews through wires. And the extent of the damage largely depends on which threads the rodent decides to gnaw. For example, a chewed up main network or module control module can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
But the problems do not stop there. If a mouse enters the car's ventilation system, the dash area may need to be disassembled for a thorough cleaning. Because inhaling these musty odors is bad for your nose – and your health.
How do I get a mouse out of my car?
Here are some ways to encourage your mouse to find a new home.  Turn up the heat. Mice do not like extreme temperatures, just like humans. Roll up the car window and park in the sun for a few hours. All that heat can convince the mouse to move out.
How do I prevent mice from living in my car?
When selecting the mouse from your car, follow these tips to prevent it from returning.
- Park in the garage. Cars left outside are more susceptible to rodent intruders. So park inside, if possible. And be sure to close doors, windows and sunroof.
- Keep moving. The best way to keep mice out is through regular use of your car. Vehicles that sit for long periods without moving will make a more inviting home.
- Clean your car. A car filled with rubbish and crumbs is a welcome invitation for mice. Keep the inside of the car clean and regularly remove any leaves or debris from the engine compartment. Read more about how to clean and detail your car at home.
- Do not park near a food source. Try to park the car away from food sources such as garbage cans or bird feeders. And store all food stored in your garage, including pet food, in sealed containers.
Are rodent damage to my car covered by my car insurance?
If you are an Erie insurance customer, animal-related damage to your car may be covered by any comprehensive coverage in your car insurance. This includes damage to your car from mice or rats. You are only responsible for paying your deductible.
Questions about your specific policy? Talk to your local ERIE agent to understand what your policy may cover (and where you may have gaps).
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Read more about car insurance from ERIE or talk to a local agent in your area.