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Help! Rodents are eating my engine!

Please help! I need help desperately! Squirrels (or some kind of rodents) have done major damage to my minivan’s engine for the third time in the past two months! My insurance company is sick of this, and so am I. I have tried sprinkling the engine with cayenne pepper, which seemed to work for about 2 weeks. They do this damage overnight, so I don’t think it’s anything as small as a mouse. They don’t bother the other cars in our driveway, or our neighbors’ cars, just my van. Does anyone else have experience with this problem? How do I stop it? Thanks so much!

Trap and kill or try electronic high frequency sound maker. The often don’t work and you’ll get mixed opinions, but I found one that did for squirrels and I haven’t seen one all winter in and around garage. Otherwise, you must kill them if they are squirrels. Sorry PETA. HD rat traps may work under car. One way trap and remove if more ethical than I. Maybe your car is the warmest ?

We are always dealing with squirrel damage to the house and trees and that’s enough. Nothing on the car though. About the only way to deal with them short of a shotgun is to trap them live and relocate to the distant woods. There is a very effective stink agent that will drive them away. But it will drive you away too.

Boy, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not a laughing matter. Many years ago, some kind of rodent ate most of a small motor out of my mom’s dishwasher – copper wires and all.

Maybe look into security cameras and motion detectors. If you can figure out what kind of animal you are dealing with, and how they are entering the garage, maybe you can work out a way of trapping the critter.

Park it in a garage and get a couple of cats.


PS: Keep the Recces Peanut Butter Cups out of the car.

This Problem Is Often Discussed Here. Use The “Search” Button Above, On This Car Talk Site.

Try searching some key words and you’ll see all kinds of advice. I just tried “rodent” and got many hits. Here’s a link to one example:

Chipmunks. Go to a “Farm Store” and get some rat poison that works… Also, paint the wiring with Tobasco sauce…

“About the only way to deal with them short of a shotgun is to trap them live and relocate to the distant woods”

Not that I’m advocating it by any means unless you’re a country boy,positive of your backdrop, and where it’s legal. But I live in the “woods” with a mountain back drop. I can knock down squirrels running across the yard with a .22 revolver loaded with “snake shot” in alternate chambers, at 15 yds. With them down, you can then casually walk up and dispatch them with the alternate solid round. Though illegal in this area to discharge firearms within 100 yards of a residence for hunting, local game wardens saw no problem. So, we can do it w/o a shotgun with a little patience. Sorry to offend the catch and remove people.

Thanks for all your suggestions, and please keep them coming!!!
So far, I like the idea of painting the harness wires(this is the $800+ repair area)with Tobasco and placing rat pellets under the hood or traps under the car so that we (hopefully) only kill the actual perpetrators. We are in suburban Philadelphia, so there are lots of other critters, including cats that I do not want on my rescuer’s conscience as “collateral damage.” BTW, the repairs this time are almost $900 unless they find more damage while doing the work. Fortunately, we only have a $100 deductible. I have to say, our insurance company (Liberty Mutual) has been incredibly nice. I’ll let you all know what works for future victims.

Rat poison. Get some of those packets that they chew into. Relocating rarely works; unless you drive them really, really far away, they come back. Shotguns are difficult to modulate.

I agree–I’ll look into the packets, thanks. Sorry folks, firearms are just not an option!

Consider the smell when the engine compartment heats up, how long it will last and fire hazard for anything you “paint on” in these areas.

They don’t like moth-balls either…But some humans are sensitive to those also…

Another idea has surfaced. Has anyone ever heard of this? Our Animal Control person said to wrap the wires in either tin foil or teflon tape and that would prevent the chewing 100 percent! Hard to imagine this tip wouldn’t be out there if it were that simple. I trust this guy, but I admit I’m a bit skeptical. Chances are we have about another week before I can get my van back, so there is still time to figure this out and decide what to do next. Thoughts?

Might be a good idea to try to trap/kill the critter(s) before you replace the wiring harness. The rodent(s) very likely is/are still nibbling on the wiring harness. Disabling your car is a side affect of their activity, not their objective.

Have you solved your problem yet?? I just had to put my car in due to “rodents” chewing my wires! Fortunately, it’s not too expensive yet, but I’m wanting to do whatever I can to avoid this again. Also, how have you gotten the “ammonia-urine” smell out from under the hood? Thanks!

Dear Rarroy~
Not sure how to answer. We occasionally sprinkle plenty of cayenne pepper on our engines and I park my van over a scattering of moth balls that I place periocially on the driveway. Obviously, these need to be repeated fairly often, but it’s cheaper than the car repairs! It hasn’t happened again lately, but I’m not sure if we’ve solved the problem, or if they are just not looking for a place to hang out as they were in the colder weather. We didn’t have a urine smell under the hood. If you do, try Nature’s Miracle or a similar enzymatic cleaner that is used for cat urine. Hope this helps.

did you ever successfully resolve this? i just spent $1200 getting my wiring harness replaced. i have no garage (just a car port) and cannot even build one because of zoning restrictions, so i am on the driveway and the mice or whatever climb in the engine in winter because it is warm.

am hoping that you have experienced feedback, something that works. i too will not be running around with shotguns.

The people who park at DIA in denver have this problem from time to time. Actually rabbits have been known to get under some of the newer cars typically VW, and eat the wiring. The reason is, the coating on the wiring has a sweet taste, and a sugary smell to the animals. There have been squirrels and rabbits primarily doing this. It was reported on Fox 31 news Denver. I lived in the area at the time. That is what I think is the cause of the damage to your vehicle. There may have been a recall to cover this. Check with your local dealership.

As mentioned there has been a lot of discussion previously on this topic.

I try anything to avoid poison. Even if the intended target is the only thing consuming it, when it dies, something else might eat it and then you get this chain reaction in the food chain.

I’ve taken to using live traps (Hav-A-Heart) to capture various damaging animals around my property. Then I can look and see what I caught. If it’s not the offending creature, I let it go alive. If it’s what I have been trying to eradicate, move to safe area and close range pellet shot. For chipmonks, you don’t even need any bait. They’re curious nature is their downfall…