Small rodents are smart and persistent creatures. Once they find shelter and food, it is very difficult to evict them and unfortunately, to them – your car is a five-star hotel with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Not only do they carry diseases (Bubonic plague, Typhus, Hanta fever) and make your car filthy (mice and rats can produce 50-100 droppings a day), but they also cause thousands of dollars in electrical wiring damage, which in most cases is not covered under any warranty.
Unfortunately, an exterminator will always be the most effective solution to your rodent problems but what if you don’t want to hurt those cute little creatures? This is exactly what this article is about.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to prevent rodents from making your car their home and how to “evict” them humanely by using the best rodent repellent for cars. But first, here’s why they chew car wires and how to prevent it.
Why Do Rodents Chew Car Wires?
All rodents have a pair of upper and lower teeth called incisors. They don’t have roots and never stop growing; therefore, these little creatures have to actively chew on something to keep their choppers from growing too large and actually growing into their own brains!
Apart from car wires being a convenient thing to chew, since they’re small and easily accessible all around the car, electrical wires in new cars are made from eco-friendly materials such as soy, rice husks, corn and sugars. They smell good and taste even better for rodents – that’s the primary reason why new cars seem to be so disproportionately affected.
Why & How Do Rodents Get Inside Cars?
Rodents often go to recently driven cars for warmth and shelter. They look for cars that are easy to access and don’t require moving through an open field to avoid predators. That’s why you should keep your car away from any bushes, trees or buildings.
Once they’ve spotted their new home, rodents will get inside your car’s engine compartment and will squeeze themselves inside the car’s interior ventilation piping through holes the size of a quarter, or they will chew their way inside.
When rodents are inside your car, they will start looking for anything edible and will eventually try to taste wire insulation.
Now, because your car’s wires are coated with soy-based products, rodents will dig in into the free rat food that is your car’s wire insulation and wreak havoc for your car’s electrical system, leading to expensive repairs.
How to Stop Rodents From Chewing Car Wires
When it comes to repelling mice, and rats, the best course of action will always be prevention:
- Reduce the number of hiding spaces around your car. The point of doing this is to make it difficult for rodents to reach your car. Rodents always stay hidden somewhere in order to avoid predators, therefore if they have to cross an open area in order to reach your car, they will certainly think twice before attempting to do so. Hiding spaces such as bushes, high grass, and trees need to be eliminated or if that’s not possible, your car should be parked far away from them.
- Make sure there is no food around and in your car. Food smells tasty and rodents surely love to eat, so clear any pet food or bird seeds from around the car and don’t give them a reason to get anywhere near it.
- Open the hood. If there is no food around, rodents are also attracted to the warmth coming from your car’s engine. The engine bay is the most attractive and the easiest place for rodents to get into – it’s warm, dark and has a lot of hiding places, but if you open the hood, the warm and dark engine bay will no longer be so inviting.
- Scare them away using electronic rodent repellents. They emit ultrasonic frequencies that are extremely annoying to rodents but inaudible to humans and pets. In some cases, ultrasonic sound waves might not be enough to keep rodents away from your car – that’s why better-quality electronic repellents use strobe lights to make your car even more unappealing.
- Use chemical rodent repellents. Mice have a very sensitive sense of smell. In some cases, it was documented that the scent of mint can be used as a repellent and it does seem to do the trick for the majority of people.
- Lastly, eliminate the rodents. This is your best bet if nothing else helps, so get your mouse traps ready, or call an exterminator if you’re unsure.
For the best results, you should give all of these tips a shot at the same time (except the exterminator, obviously) because rodents are clever creatures and some of these tips would not make much difference on their own.
With that said, if you’re looking to try a non-lethal way the get rid of rodents, we have prepared the four most popular humane products on the market – two different ultrasonic sound sensors and two scented mice repellents. Again, it’s a good idea to use both types of rodent repellents at the same time.
The 4 Best Rodent Repellents for Cars
|Angveirt Under Hood Rodent Repeller||Check Price On Amazon|
|Loraffe Under Hood Animal Repeller||Check Price On Amazon|
|MDXconcepts Mice Repellent Spray||Check Price On Amazon|
|Peppermint Essential Oil by Essentially KateS||Check Price On Amazon|
Angveirt Under Hood Rodent Repeller
- Type of Repellent: Ultrasonic Sound and LED Strobe Lights
- Type of Power Source: Internal 3xAAA Batteries
The first product we are going to review is the Angveirt rodent repeller. It is a small device that prevents rodents and other small animals from infesting and ruining your property. The manufacturer promises that this device repels mice, rats, cats, squirrels, and other small animals while still being a humane and non-lethal way of dealing with the problem.
This device basically works by emitting intermittent low-frequency ultrasound waves and strobing LED lights. It even has sensors that detect vibrations; therefore, it only works while being stationary and saves energy while the car is moving.
It is battery operated. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Of course, it can be used anywhere as it does not require any wires or external batteries to function. Be it under your car’s hood, your garage, or even inside the house – it can work anywhere. Moreover, the three triple A batteries are rated to last about 45 days of 24/7 usage.
The installation is really simple. The device is lightweight enough to be secured using double-sided tape or by using the four mounting holes – two on each side. So, by utilizing a bunch of zip ties the device can be installed virtually anywhere. Just keep in mind that the device is not completely waterproof and thus requires to be protected from moisture.
Of course, the main hassle would be changing the batteries. Because the battery cover is located on the backside of the device, the zip ties or the double-sided tape might have to be removed and later replaced to access it.
Overall, we recommend you to buy a few of these devices especially if you park your car in the garage as one repeller might not be enough to evict rodents from the premises.
Loraffe Under Hood Animal Repeller
- Type of Repellent: Ultrasonic Sound and LED Strobe Lights
- Type of Power Source: 12V Car Battery
This is a similar product; however, it is primarily designed to be used with 12V car batteries.
It also has a smart system that automatically shuts the device down. It achieves that by turning off while you are driving and tuns on while the vehicle is stationary. Moreover, low voltage protection is also implemented – when the device receives less than 10.5 volts, it automatically shuts down to prevent further discharge of the car battery.
As it has an ultrasonic sound emitter and strobing lights, this device should effectively deter small rodents like rats, mice, squirrels, cats, and more.
The installation is not difficult. Just like the last device, you have to secure it using zip ties or double-sided tape to a surface. The only difference would be hooking up two wires from the device to the car battery – turn the repeller on and you’re done.
The biggest disadvantage would be that it is limited by the length of the power cables. So, it is only intended for car use. While it might deter rodents from entering your car, the limited range still makes it not ideal if they reside in your garage. Moreover, although it is a low power device, it still uses power from your car battery. It might not be the best choice if you don’t drive your car regularly as you might find your car unable to start. Additionally, a malfunction of the device might drain your car’s battery flat.
Overall, this is a good choice for car use as you do not have to worry about changing the batteries.
MDXconcepts Mice Repellent Spray
- Type of Repellent: Diluted Essential Oil Spray
- Recommended Application Frequency: Two Times a Week
Peppermint oil is effective against rodents. You can find videos online where mice are easily deterred by the scent of peppermint even if there is food around. Here’s a great real-life test by Shaun Woods:
This product is made from all-natural ingredients. The active components are small percentages of peppermint, spearmint, and rosemary oils.
Additionally, it has non-active ingredients that dilute the substance and makes it less potent. Of course, this product is both animal and kid-friendly as it does not include any potentially dangerous substances. Another benefit would be that the car will smell amazing. Even from the inside!
Just make sure to spray a few spots for the best effectiveness, especially where the suspected rodent entrance points are located. Moreover, try to avoid any exposed electrical connections as they might short-circuit when wet and the engine as well.
Users report that the most effective way of use would be to spray the repellent once or twice a week.
This scented repellent is best used if your car is in a garage as the wind might decrease the effectiveness of the product.
Peppermint Essential Oil by Essentially KateS
- Type of Repellent: Essential Oil
- Recommended Application Frequency: One to Two Times a Week
A cheaper and more practical alternative would be using pure peppermint essential oil.
This oil comes thicker with a strong smell because it is concentrated. As opposed to the last product, this essential oil can be used for various purposes: pest control, aromatherapy, and other various health applications.
While this peppermint oil might not work for some people (rodents in different regions react to repellents differently), the majority of users do report that it did work for them and that it’s a good choice for rodent eviction and/or prevention. As we know that mice have an exceptionally good sense of smell, they avoid the smell of mints. Moreover, there are reports that it might deter insects as well.
Additionally, this is a condensed oil made from peppermints. It is superior to rodent sprays which only have a small percentage of active ingredients, as you can control the strength of the product yourself.
The oil can be applied directly or by using cotton, you can dilute it and use it as a spray or even use plastic containers with wicks for a longer lasting effect. Keep in mind that it is an oil and cannot be mixed with water. You can only combine oils with carrier oils. We also recommend using it on areas where rodents might enter your car as it would be the best prevention.
It is also kid and animal friendly. As opposed to rat poison and other chemical solutions, this liquid is considered harmless. Still, we do not recommend ingesting or using it directly on the skin as it is highly concentrated. For other purposes, other than pest control, we advise you to follow recommendations for the specific application.
Of course, this product is best used if your car is often stationary, in your garage, indoors or in less windy conditions as the effectiveness will drastically decrease.
Things You Should Know Before Buying a Rodent Repellent for Cars
How to Make a Peppermint Oil Spray
The best way to use peppermint oil as a rodent deterrent is by soaking cotton balls with it. Minty cotton balls stay effective at deterring rodents for 2-4 weeks before they need to be replaced, however, peppermint spray is more convenient to some people. Here’s how you can make one.
Things you’ll need:
- 1 Small spray bottle
- 1-ounce of 100% peppermint oil
- 1-ounce of water
- Combine the two ingredients by pouring the peppermint oil and water into the spray bottle.
- Add a few drops of dish detergent to help the ingredients to mix better and shake well.
Spray it around the wheel wells, inside the engine bay, or any other entry points to keep them from coming inside.
Peppermint spray won’t stay effective as long as cotton balls do, so reapply the spray as needed. Also, feel free to experiment with a stronger or lighter peppermint concentration.
Biological Rodent Deterrents
The oldest and sometimes the most effective mouse deterrent (and trap) is a cat. That’s right, you can raise a kitten to be your rat terminator if you do it right and make him catch his own food more often.
However, if you decide to get a cat, make sure you know exactly where she is before getting into your car, and starting your engine – cats can also crawl inside your car’s engine bay and get seriously hurt or killed.
If you don’t want to own a cat you can always fool rodents by faking the presence of a predator with the use of animal fur or urine. Rodents are very sensitive to smell and will never nest near the signs of predators.
So, place animal fur or spray fox or coyote urine around your car and watch rodents fear for their lives.
Poisoning Rodents Might Do More Harm Than Good
While moth balls and rat poison are very effective and an easy set-it-and-forget-it solution, they can also be lethal to other animals.
Moth balls, for instance, are poisonous to animals and humans. They produce toxic vapors and shouldn’t be used inside the car.
Another reason why you shouldn’t use rat poison is that it might kill your or your neighbor’s pets as well. Pets can eat the poisoned rodent and get poisoned too, which would be terrible.
Lastly, the poisoned rodent can die in a hidden space inside your vehicle (most often inside the interior ventilation ducts) and you’ll have to deal with the horrible smell of rotting rat, as well as the time and cost it would take to remove it and clean the area.
If you’re unable to deter rodents from nesting inside your car, it would be a good idea to call an exterminator and let a professional handle the job – you’ll probably save time and money that way.
Is Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent a Myth?
People have been debating peppermint oil effectiveness against rodents for a while now but the reason why some people don’t see success using this method is because they are probably doing it wrong and expect too much.
Some people expect that a dash of peppermint oil or a couple of peppermint leaves placed once in a while will work like magic. A few peppermint leaves will never be enough to deter rodents, especially from their already established nests.
The peppermint spray or peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls have to be strong enough and should be resprayed or replaced every few weeks. And if rodents have already made a nest – the only course of action is mouse traps or the exterminator. Peppermint will only deter rodents from entering your car if they don’t already have a nest in there.
In conclusion, if you prefer mouse repellents to traps or extermination, we advise you to use the combination approach – use multiple types of repellents at once as using a single method might not be enough to get rid of your problem. But if rodent repellents don’t work, your best bet is to hire an exterminator and let the professional take care of it.
Eddie is the co-founder of CarCareCamp.com, and the site’s primary contributor. Automotive repair has played a major role in his family for generations and he’s determined to continue the legacy further on. Under his belt, Eddie has a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Electronics Engineering and almost a decade of experience working as an electrician in a major semi-truck dealership in Europe.