Mice aren’t just household pests. These pesky critters can and do turn up in all sorts of places to seek shelter or resources, and this includes your car.
If you suspect these rodents have found their way into yours, don’t panic, we’re here to help you out!
In this article on how to keep mice out of cars, you’ll learn how and why mice go into automobiles, how to reduce the risk of an infestation, and what to do if you see signs of their presence in your ride.
- Tool Up With Deterrents – Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, moth balls, and dryer sheets are all proven deterrents.
- Keep It Clean! – The best way to keep these pesky little critters away from your car is to keep it clean and crumb-free inside and clear the area around it.
- It’s Worth the Effort – Marauding mice can do serious damage to your vehicle by chewing through non-metal engine components, shredding air filters, munching upholstery, and causing smells by pooping, peeing, or dying (!) in hard-to-reach places.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 How to Keep Mice Out of Cars
- 3 What Are the Signs of Mice in Your Car?
- 4 What to Do If Mice Are in Your Car
- 5 Why Do Mice Get in Cars and How Do They Do It?
- 6 Why Is It Bad When Mice Get in Cars?
- 7 Conclusion
How to Keep Mice Out of Cars
There are lots of tactics you can employ to keep your car mouse-free. Here are the most effective:
We know this isn’t an option for everyone, but it might be for some of you.
Do you have access to a garage you’re not currently using for parking? Rethink your use of the space, and start storing your vehicle there.
Stay on Top of Repairs
This is the time to fix any vulnerable parts.
If your sunroof is broken or you have a hole in your side panels, now is the time to fix it. Don’t leave these opportunistic pests with another way to get inside!
Patch up rusted holes (steel wool works!) to seal up viable access points, and don’t ignore windows that don’t close all the way. There’s no need to make it easier for these critters to get in!
Problems that cause condensation should also be addressed. For example, if you tend to wash your carpets and put them in your car damp, dry them first. Remember, a little moisture can be an oasis for thirsty rodents.
We explained earlier that roaming rodents can make use of debris to climb up toward your vehicle or as nesting materials. So, make sure the space around your parked car is as clean and clear as possible.
Mice are less likely to scamper around in the open, as they won’t feel safe.
Lock Up Tight
Many of us have forgotten to roll up a window after a long day out.
Doing this is extra important to prevent mice from making their way into your car, though. Sealing up obvious entrances like windows and sunroofs might deter a wandering mouse.
Don’t let your automobile become a paradise for these pests. For starters, throw away trash regularly rather than letting it accumulate.
If you or your family members snack on the road, be careful. Try not to bring food in that leaves crumbs or get messy, and dispose of all the packaging as soon as you’re done eating.
For a deep clean, take your car regularly to the local car wash to make use of their more powerful and specialized vacuums.
Use Mouse-Repellent Products (Or a Cat)
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to any rodent problem. Use rodent repellent products to discourage mice from choosing your automobile as temporary accommodation.
Peppermint oil spray is a great start if you’re looking for something to deter rodents (they hate the scent, apparently!). Mothballs, cayenne pepper, and dryer sheets are also known to repel mice effectively. The essential oils in a botanical repellent like Fresh Cab will also do the trick.
As a further deterrent, you could also place a rubber snake from the local dollar store near your car when you park. If you happen to have a cat, let it roam in the garage for a few hours each night to scare any would-be squatters away from your vehicle.
Take Precautions Before Storage
If you’re leaving your car in storage for extended periods, take precautions until you’re back.
Make sure there’s no food source or organic waste of any sort in your cabin, and place traps and repellents around or inside the vehicle.
What Are the Signs of Mice in Your Car?
It’s essential to know the signs of an unwelcome guest in your vehicle, in case you haven’t seen one there with your own two eyes just yet. When you notice these, take action immediately.
- Check Engine Light: If you spot the check engine light, a mouse might have gotten trapped behind your air filter. Alternatively, another part of the engine may have been impacted. You might see that you’re losing coolant, for example. This could happen if the coolant reservoir or a hose was chewed through.
- Droppings and Urine: The appearance of stains and pellets are a telltale sign that a mouse is present in your vehicle.
- Mysterious Damage or Activity in Cabin: Does litter in your car (e.g. food wrappers) look like it’s moving around? Are papers starting to look tattered around the edges? What about mysterious tears in your seats or carpeting?
- Visible Rodent Damage Under the Hood: If you pop the hood and notice ripped insulation, a mouse could be the culprit. Inspect rubber pipes and other non-metal components, such as wiring, for chew marks.
- Nasty Smells: A foul odor could mean that one or more of these pests has died in your car. If you can’t immediately find the body, it may be stuck somewhere such as behind your vents.
What to Do If Mice Are in Your Car
Let’s say you’ve established that you have at least one little critter in your vehicle. Now, what should you do?
First of all, safety should be your utmost priority. These rodents aren’t poisonous, but as we’ve explained, you’re still dealing with a health hazard. So, haul out the cleaning supplies to perform a thorough scrub down of the interior.
Afterward, you have two choices. You can either try to solve the infestation by yourself or call an expert to handle the situation.
If you happen to see the mouse, avoid trying to catch it bare-handed. Don’t forget that their saliva can transmit diseases — you don’t want to be bitten.
Also, be sure to keep pets and children out of the car until it’s clear of mice. You’re going to be using traps that small family members shouldn’t be exposed to. Plus, you don’t want anyone to come into contact with urine or feces.
Equip yourself with rubber gloves and a mask, since the first thing you’re going to have to do is clean your car out.
If your car was already messy, this might be more time-consuming for you. The goal is to remove contaminants and make your vehicle an inhospitable environment for mice.
Here are the steps you should take to clean the interior:
- Park your car somewhere sheltered, and open all windows and doors.
- Throw away all garbage and waste in the cabin.
- Clear away all papers, toys, or any other personal items (including from the glove compartment and trunk). Wash and disinfect whatever you can (e.g. stuffed animals).
- Vacuum every space you can reach, and make sure no droppings are left behind.
- Using a disinfectant and warm water, wash upholstery and carpeting. If you have a steam cleaner, put it to use.
- Wipe down hard surfaces such as the dashboard with disinfectant wipes. Ones with bleach are recommended.
- Throw away the vacuum bag.
Follow these guidelines if you’ve found signs of mice in the engine compartment:
- Disconnect the battery, and make sure your engine is cool.
- Manually remove any nesting material (e.g. shredded insulation).
- Wipe down the accessible areas with a sponge soaked in disinfectant, or disinfectant wipes.
- Do not use a hose or a pressure washer. You want to avoid blasting droppings and other debris everywhere.
- If damaged, remove the cabin air filter and replace it. Be sure to clean the compartment beforehand.
- Once everything is pristine, you can reconnect the battery.
Finally, these are the steps you should take if you smell a corpse:
- Keep your mask and gloves on at all times, and have a garbage bag at the ready to get rid of everything.
- Pop the hood and try to locate the corpse. If the odor is stronger when you’re using your AC or heating, the body is probably behind your vents.
- Find and remove it, then thoroughly clean and disinfect the area.
- If you can’t locate it, you may have to get help from your local mechanic or detailing shop.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, you can have everything professionally cleaned instead.
Place Snap Traps or Call a Pest Control Specialist
You can purchase mouse traps from many stores, or order them online if you prefer. Place them inside the cabin and use as directed.
If you don’t want to kill the invading pests, you can buy humane traps. Just make sure you free the captured animals far away from where you keep your car.
Glue traps are arguably inhumane, so please consider other more humane options that don’t harm the animal.
You always have the choice of calling a pest management expert. In this case, you’ll want to look for someone who specializes (or has great experience) in rodent control. This might be the best course of action if your infestation is severe.
If you’re hesitant to address the problem yourself, getting professional help is the way to go.
Why Do Mice Get in Cars and How Do They Do It?
There are three potential reasons why a mouse could end up inside your vehicle. It might just be exploring or seeking shelter, or it could be in search of either food or water (or both).
When the weather turns nasty, these animals seek shelter wherever they can. Dropping temperatures can encourage mice and other rodents to enter vehicles if they can find access. Even in more temperate climates, they often seek shelter from summer storms.
Females may also choose to nest in your automobile when they’re pregnant. The insulation under the hood can be repurposed as nesting material. This will ultimately lead to many mice in your vehicle, even if it started out as just one.
Secondly, the outdoors isn’t always abundant in resources. Hunger and thirst can drive these rodents straight into your car.
Finally, curiosity can entice a wandering mouse to go where it shouldn’t. That can include automobiles, as well as lots of other places.
Breaking into the average car doesn’t pose much of a challenge for mice.
There are quite a few ways one can get in, and most of these entry points are accessed through the wheel wells or the vehicle’s undercarriage. Here are the most common:
- Spaces Around Cables
- Steering Column
- Pedal Shaft
- Air vents or air conditioner (by chewing through the material of your cabin air filter to reach the ventilation system and squeeze in).
- Holes or Cracks
- Open Doors or Windows
Why Is It Bad When Mice Get in Cars?
These pesky little critters can be extremely destructive, and might pose a danger to you, your family, and your automobile. Here’s some of the damage they can do.
Chew Through Non-Metal Engine Components
Mice will chew through almost anything they can sink their teeth into, including electrical wires.
This can affect parts like your windshield wipers, or even the ignition.
There are many other non-metal components that are susceptible to mouse teeth, such as Rubber hoses, plastic reservoirs, and engine insulation.
Shred Cabin Air Filters
Cabin air filters in your car are important to your well-being. They prevent pollutants such as pollen and exhaust smog from seeping into the interior.
The soft filter material can be shredded by invading mice. Once compromised, the unit won’t do a good job at protecting you from bad air.
This is no joke for drivers who suffer from severe allergies or asthma!
You don’t have to own a luxury automobile to care about your upholstery. A mouse can tear up your seats, no matter what type of upholstery you have in your car.
It isn’t cheap or easy to repair ripped leather or patch up a missing chunk of your seat, you know.
Don’t expect good etiquette from a mouse living in your vehicle. These animals won’t section off an area to use as a bathroom.
You can expect to find feces and urine anywhere the mouse has been, from your dashboard to your carpeting and everywhere in between.
Most rodents are known disease carriers. Mice can carry Hantavirus, an unpleasant virus that can have serious health consequences.
You don’t have to touch or hold a mouse in your hand to contract this, either. Coming in contact with a mouse’s urine, feces, or saliva can be enough to get infected.
Family members with compromised immune systems, such as children and elderly relatives, are more at risk.
Imagine you’re driving on the highway and you spot a mouse in your passenger seat. Or, you suddenly feel little claws skittering over your leg while you’re accelerating.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Panic and not pay attention to what you’re doing anymore.
The shock of this can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, putting your life and that of anyone else with you in the car or on the road at the time at risk.
Get Trapped and Die
These critters might get electrocuted or burnt if they’re in the wrong place when you start your car engine.
The foul odor of a dead mouse can be nauseating to deal with, and removing it may not be straightforward (or pleasant) either.
If you’ve made it this far, good job! You know most (if not all) there is to know if you’re trying to keep mice out of your car, as well as a list of tips to get rid of mice if you find any.
Stay vigilant, even if you’re already using repellents and parking your vehicle indoors. Inspect underneath the hood and in the trunk every so often, especially during the winter season.
It can be disconcerting to know that a rodent has made a home in your vehicle. You shouldn’t let the shock stop you from getting to work, though. The longer time they’re left there, the more serious of a problem this will become.
Aside from being inconvenient, these pests pose a health hazard to animals and humans alike.
As long as you take everything laid out in this article into consideration, you should be good to go!