How to Keep Mice and Rats out of Your Car

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You’re probably aware of the damage rodents can do around your house, but did you know they can also invade your vehicle? To rats and mice, your warm, cozy car is the ultimate nesting place, especially during those cold winter months! These furry invaders can sneak into your car and engine compartment through the tiniest of gaps and, once inside, cause widespread damage to upholstery, insulation, and wires.

Not only can rodent damage to your car be eye-wateringly expensive to put right but having rats and mice in your vehicle is also a significant health hazard.

Among the many dangerous diseases carried by rats and mice, Hantavirus pulmonary disease is one of the most common. This airborne virus can be found wherever rats and mice live and is spread around your car via the air vents and air filtration systems.

This puts both you and your passengers at serious risk of sickness, so keeping your car in a rat-free zone should be a top priority. But how can you keep mice out of your car, and what are the best methods of repelling rodents from your vehicle to prevent mice and rat infestation? Read further!

First off, how and why do mice get in the car?

To understand the behavior of mice and rats we have to understand that these rodents are active all year-round and even more so – they are nocturnal creatures. It means they can set up their new house under the hood of your car while you sleep. 

Rats can wreak havoc in the engine of your vehicle, primarily by eating their way through the casing of wires.

This can leave the wires exposed or may break them altogether, leading to electrical faults in the engine and car breakdown.

But why do mice get in your car?

One word – seasonality. Mice do not hibernate during cold seasons! During the wintertime, they are most likely to look for nesting possibilities so any possible cracks that they can squeeze through to access warmth and food will do. 

How do these rodents end up in the car?

In most cases, they will crawl up from under the engine compartment and then spread to wherever they can fit.

Mice love to nest in the airbox apartment. 

But when they have invaded your engine compartment, a mouse can enter into the interior of your car through holes that are originally meant for pedals shafts, steering columns, holes around wires and cables, and vents.

And just like we always tell to our readers – prevention is the best solution! Because these rodents can seriously harm your vehicle.

Damage rodents can cause to your vehicle

In most cases, the damage from mice and rats comes in a cosmetic and visual form. Until they not…

Rodents can cause damage to plenty of car parts and a car itself. They may chew starting from your wires and cables to the exterior of your car as the material does not matter to them.


When it comes to the wiring in the engines of cars, rats are undeniably drawn to newer models. This is thanks to a shake-up of the materials used in the manufacturing process, as companies such as Honda and Toyota begin to abandon petroleum-based products in favor of more environmentally sound options such as soy-derived wire casing. Unfortunately, soy is a plant-based material and, therefore, counts as food to rodents.

Imagine waking up late one morning and going straight to your car to start the commute to work but the car doesn’t start. What could be worse than this?

I am glad you asked.

It’s their droppings and saliva which is known as asthma trigger. And these are not even considered serious. Mice and rats love to dig into the trash which transfers germs to everything they touch afterward. Add Hantavirus to the list and now we have a potentially serious problem. 

Now, imagine turning your AC on where the smell and bacterias circulate through your car air vents.

Plus, it will cost a ton of money to repair the chewed-up engine control module wires or to clean out the vent system.

And let us repeat ourselves – prevention is the best solution! Don’t wait until it’s too late. 

So, how do you deter these annoying rodents?

How to keep mice and rats out of your car?

1. Discourage mice and rats from setting up home near your car

Where you store your car can make a big difference when you’re trying to keep rats and mice out.

If you keep your vehicle outside, make the surrounding area less rodent-friendly by keeping nearby shrubs and long grasses pruned and neat. If you keep your car in the garage, blocking entry points and setting up traps can be a great rat repellent for your car. And, it goes without saying, but make sure all windows and doors to your car are completely closed whenever you leave your vehicle unattended.

2. Keep your car crumb-free

We’re all guilty of snacking on the road, but if you regularly eat behind the wheel or play host to backseat munchers, you need to be careful about crumbs.

Rats and mice will often come indoors seeking sustenance and leaving food waste lying around is a sure way to kickstart an infestation.

Make sure you vacuum and clean your car regularly to take care of those crumbs before they get a chance to build up. Making your car a less desirable place for rodents to be, makes a big difference when you’re trying to keep them out!

Another tip would be to not forget about dog kibble or dry cat food, or other rodent meals like garden or bird seeds which can attract rodents in your car.

3. Make use of rodent-repelling plant oils

Finding a good rodent repellent spray for your car can be tricky, as many formulations contain harsh chemicals and are unsuitable for use in confined spaces. Fortunately, there are a few plant extracts that rats can’t stand, one of which is eucalyptus oil. Anointing the interior of your vehicle with this natural rat repellent can help to keep the critters away from both your car and your engine compartment.

If you are wondering what smells do mice hate, mostly it’s peppermint, citronella and chili powder, and cayenne pepper.

4. Keep condensation to a minimum

Besides food, rats and mice are also drawn to water sources. Keeping your car dry can, therefore, help to reduce the likelihood of an infestation – but how can you make sure that your vehicle remains condensation-free? Moisture can easily accumulate under leaking heaters and AC vents, so it’s important to make a careful inspection and fix any leaks immediately.

Condensation can also build up if you leave damp clothes in your car, so make sure you take everything out after that trip to the gym!

5. Scare them away

You can plant biological predatorial traps to deter rodents.

Place a cat, dog, or human hair in, around, or under the car to repel mice and other rodents coming close to your car.

They will consider fur and hair as a sign that predators are around and will look another way.

This might not be effective alone but combined with mouse traps and essential oils – rodents most definitely will be less attracted to your car (if they can’t smell food).

Alternatively, you can scare them away with sound tactics like high-frequency sounds or the rattling of snakes.

6. Keep your parking area clutter-free

Unkempt shrubs, long grasses, old furniture and recycling, and trash cans are all common harborage sites for rodents.

If there is a lot of clutter around your usual parking space, it’s a good idea to have a clear-up when you bring your new car home.

This can reduce the likelihood of rodents hanging out nearby which, in turn, makes them less likely to infiltrate your engine compartment.

How to keep mice and rats out of your car engine compartment?

Rats and mice can cause all-out mayhem if they get into the engine compartment of your car. Once inside, they’ll go straight for the wires, which can lead to all kinds of electrical faults. And it doesn’t stop there – rodents will chew through virtually anything, from brake cables to gas lines. It goes without saying that this can be incredibly dangerous, potentially leading to serious accidents and collisions.

The nesting materials and food that rodents drag into your engine compartment can also interfere with the mechanisms of your engine. The debris scattered around your engine compartment can lead to breakdowns, accidents, and even fires as the engine heats up.

Learning how to keep mice out of your engine compartment is vital for the health of your vehicle and the safety of your passengers. Check out the following tips for keeping your engine compartment free from furry intruders!

1. Block any and all entrances to the engine compartment of your car

Rodents can squeeze their way in through the teeniest gaps. Take the time to inspect your engine compartment thoroughly for any and all possible entry points, especially around the front wheel arches (as this is where rodents most commonly get in). By sealing these off with wire mesh, you can effectively prevent rats and mice from finding their way into your engine compartment. This one-time fix is easy to implement and good for year-round use, for a low-maintenance solution to your rodent problems.

2. Leave the hood up

If you are wondering how to keep mice from under the hood of a car then you should know – rats and mice are most at home in the dark, and the cozy, gloomy environment of your car’s engine compartment is the perfect nesting spot. You can reduce the risk of a rodent infestation by making them feel less at home – simply pop the hood of your car and leave it up to eliminate the dark environment they love so much.

3. Consider laying a few traps

If you have spotted rats and mice around the area where you keep your car, it may be worth setting a few traps as a preventative measure. Leaving rat and mouse traps scattered around the front end of your vehicle can be a great rodent repellent for your car, effectively stopping the critters dead in their tracks.

This can be an effective preventative measure against rats and mice that come to investigate your vehicle, and can also prevent an infestation from developing in your garage.

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A rodent infestation can wreak havoc on your car, causing widespread damage to the interior and engine. The destruction caused by rats and mice can not only be expensive to fix but can also lead to serious accidents if left unaddressed.

Keeping rats and mice out, therefore, is essential for preserving the functionality of your vehicle!

So, when the worst happens, how can you get mice out of your car? Leave the hood of your car down, clear unnecessary clutter from the vicinity of your parking space, lay a few traps, seal off entry points to your car and engine compartment and use rodent repellent for your car engine such as peppermint oil. They can all be highly effective ways to keep rats and mice at bay.


Rick T.

Solar powered rope lights strung out under the hood work for me. I spread a 16 to 33 foot length in the engine compartment, turn it on, set it to a lighting mode (I use a random flashing mode) and prop the solar cell on the windshield wiper or hood so it charges. When it gets dark, the lights come on and stay on all night.

To avoid damage to your car or the rope lights, do not forget to remove them before starting your car It might be best to leave a reminder note on your steering wheel. I can tell you from experience that they can melt. Tangling in the moving parts of the engine might be a bigger disaster.

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