Recently I experienced something I never would have thought would occur: with my own personal vehicle standing around quite a bit (since it’s not in use whilst I test-drive my way through our superb local dealerships), I recently noticed a rat – a large, ugly-looking rodent – coming out of my vehicle’s undercarriage. Much to my horror, I did some research, only to find that this is a relatively common problem, which may have serious consequences should these rodents get into your engine compartment.

Rodents, as I’m sure you are aware, are so named for their gnawing abilities. It’s in their nature to gnaw their way through things for survival. As such, imagine for a moment the damage they can cause to wires and insulation in your vehicle. Besides that, ripping away materials for nesting, or hiding food in little nooks and crannies, and – heaven forbid – having a brood of little rat babies in your vehicle is sure to cause massive problems for you. Most especially in the winter months, your vehicle may seem like the perfect place for these little critters to hide – it is warm and cozy, and has a thousand different hide-away options!

Here are some suggestions for avoiding this rather ratty situation:


  • First and foremost, try not to let your car sit idle for extended periods of time. Start it up and take it for a run as often as is feasible. If you have no choice, try keep it in a locked away garage which is kept clean and uncluttered, is well-lighted where you can check for evidence of rodents. Block any entrance opportunities into the garage where possible.
  • Don’t store food, produce or other edibles (such as pet food) near your vehicle. Rats are hoarders and will collect, store and stockpile in every crevice they find.
  • Use Electronic Deterrents or Chemicals: Certain chemicals smell bad to rats and can be used effectively to prevent them from hanging around. Similarly, strobe-light deterrents prevent them from nesting in the dark. There are also some ultrasonic devices that use high-pitch frequencies that are also effective in chasing the critters away.
  • Old fashioned mouse traps are also effective, although not so popular anymore as it is not considered humane. Beware of poison as it can also affect dogs, cats or predatory birds who feed on the rats.

Mechanics who have dealt with these problems before have noted that elaborate nests have been found in intake manifolds and air cleaners. Wires get chewed through causing electrical problems and massive amounts of money spent on repairs. Bedding material nestled away deep in the engine can also catch fire or smoulder. In worst cases, the start up of the engine results in the death of the rodents, the smell of which is the stuff of nightmares if left rotting in the vehicle.

As a last piece of advice, owning a cat, or an excitable dog is a fun, and beneficial way of keeping the rat population under control!


By Desh Bechan