How to Keep Mice Out of Your Car

When most people talk about getting rid of mice, they’re usually referring to the mice in their homes. But did you know that mice can also invade your car? If you think your car is safe from pests, think again. Mice are resourceful creatures, and they will treat your car like a buffet if they find food.

Here’s the good news: it’s easier to find and trap mice in a car compared to mice in a house. It’s a smaller space, and there aren’t any walls to hide in.

If you’re having trouble with mice in your car’s interior, our guide can help.

We’ll explain:

  • Why there are mice in your car
  • How mice can damage your car
  • How to keep mice away from your car

How do Mice Get in Cars?

If you want to get rid of the mice in your car and stop them from coming back, you need to figure out why they’re there in the first place. Find the source of the problem, and the mice have no reason to come back.

Mice usually invade cars for one reason: food.

If you park your car near food sources, you increase the risk of attracting a few rodent friends. Maybe you parked your car near a bird feeder or in the garage where pet food may be located.

Leftover food wrappers and drink bottles, especially sugary drinks, can also attract mice to your car.

Some cars also have wire coating that’s made from natural, sweet substances, like corn or soy. The mice are attracted to the coating and will chew on the wiring. 

It’s easy for mice to get into the vehicle itself. They can sneak through the vents, underneath the car through the engine compartment, or they can hop in when the door is open. Mice are quick creatures, and they can sneak in pretty quickly if given the chance. They can also sneak in through the pedal shafts or steering column.

How to Tell if There are Mice in Your Car

What if you think there’s a mouse in your car, but you’ve never actually seen it? Don’t worry – mice always leave behind some kind of evidence. If there’s one in your car, you’ll know it.

You might have a mouse in your car if you see:

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  • Droppings
  • Shredded wrappers
  • Gnawed wires near the engine
  • Claw marks
  • Chew holes in non-metal components
  • Shredded gauze in the vents
  • Chewed upholstery and insulation

Mice may be sneaky creatures, but they almost never leave without a trace. Be on the lookout for any of the above-listed signs, and if you see any evidence of mice, take action right away to get rid of them.

How Mice Can Damage Your Car

Mice are more than just an annoyance; they’re a threat to your vehicle. If given enough time, mice can cause serious damage to your car. They love to chew and gnaw on things, and the enamel in their teeth is strong enough to pierce through all kinds of interior components.

Rodents have been known to:

  • Chew up car wires, making your car unsafe to drive
  • Destroy seats and insulation
  • Put people at risk of diseases, including Hantavirus

Hantavirus is carried by many rodents, including the white-footed mouse and the deer mouse. This virus causes Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in humans, and it’s commonly found in droppings and nests. Although rare, the disease is fatal about 50% of the time.

Sanitation concerns aside, you want to get rid of mice and keep them away from your car as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk ruining your engine or having to make very expensive repairs.

How to Keep Mice Out of Your Car: A Complete Guide

Prevention is the best way to keep mice from causing serious damage to your car. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep mice out of your vehicle.

Keep Your Car Clean

If mice are nesting or hanging out in your car, there must be a reason. That reason is probably because they’ve found a food source. It doesn’t take much to attract rodents, especially if you live in an area where mice are common.

If you keep your car clean, mice won’t have a reason to stick around – or enter in the first place. Be sure to:

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  • Vacuum your car weekly
  • Remove food wrappers, papers and drink bottles
  • Clean upholstery regularly

Without food or water, mice won’t have much of a reason to hang out in your car.

Be Careful Where You Park

Ideally, you should keep your car parked on gravel or pavement and away from foliage. Keep the area around your vehicle free of clutter and potential food sources.

If you park your car in the garage where you happen to store your pet food, you may be setting yourself up for a rodent invasion. Mice are especially attracted to bags of dog kibble, livestock feed, dry cat food and bird seed. These are easy food sources, and if they’re not stored properly, they’ll attract mice. It won’t be long before the mice find your car and decide that it makes a great place to nest.

Be sure to store all pet food in sealed, rodent-proof containers. Plastic bins will not keep mice and rats from getting inside, so make sure that you get mice-proof food containers.

To reduce the chances of mice nesting in your car, remove:

  • Trash bags and cans
  • Clusters of boxes
  • Thick foliage

You may want to avoid parking your car in tall grass or in wooded areas if possible. Mice like to nest and hang out in these areas. Your car will look like an attractive place to make a nest, especially if it’s easily accessible.

Don’t Leave Openings in Your Vehicle

Don’t make it easier than it already is for mice to get into your car. Even the smallest opening will make your car an easy target for rodents.

If one of your car doors is slightly ajar, mice might sneak inside. If your windows or sunroof won’t close properly or all the way, you might as well send mice an invitation to come inside.

Use Repellent Fragrances

There are many scents that will repel mice, including:

  • Peppermint: Mice, like other pests, hate the smell of peppermint. Apply the oil to cotton balls and place them inside of your vehicle where you’ve seen traces of mouse activity. Make sure that you re-apply the oil every few days. Along with keeping the mice away,  the peppermint will keep your car smelling fresh.
  • Cayenne pepper: Mice don’t like the strong and spicy scent of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle some around your vehicle or along openings to keep mice away.
  • Irish Spring soap: The strong scent of this popular soap will keep mice and deer away.
  • Cedar wood: Mice also detest the smell of cedar wood. You cause use cedar wood oil in the same way you’d use peppermint oil to deter mice.

How to Keep Mice Out of the Car Engine Compartment

What if you have mice nesting in your car’s engine compartment? If you don’t evict them soon, they’ll wreak havoc on your engine and the rest of your car.

Keeping mice away from your car engine can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort to avoid expensive repairs.

Mice are more likely to build a nest under the hood in the winter because it’s the warmest spot in your vehicle. If you want to know how to keep mice out of your car in the winter, these tips will also help.

Park Indoors

One of the best things you can do is park your car indoors, like in a garage. Parking in the garage will put a barrier between your car and the outdoors – where mice live.

It’s not a foolproof method of prevention, but it will greatly reduce the risk that mice will even find your car in the first place.

Leave the Hood Up

Rodents prefer to nest in dark places. Keeping your car’s hood up will discourage nesting, especially during the day.

Play on the Mouse’s Fears

Everyone knows that cats are natural predators of mice, so they’re natural mouse repellents. If you have a cat, try putting her litter box in the garage near your car. The scent of the cat’s urine and feces will keep mice away. Allow your cat to patrol the area for a few hours at night to scare off any rodents that may be thinking of sneaking in. If you don’t have a cat, you might consider getting one just to keep mice away from your home in general.

If you don’t want to go as far as bringing in a new pet, you can try placing a rubber snake under your car. Snakes are another natural predator of mice, so they’ll naturally scare off rodents.

How to Get Mice Out of Car Vents

What happens if mice have already built a nest in your car’s ventilation system? At this point, repellents won’t be enough to solve the problem. You’ll need to remove the nest safely, and then use the tips above to keep the mice from coming back.

Here are a few things that you’ll need:

  • Gloves
  • Respirator
  • Car owner’s manual

You’ll most likely have to remove your car’s dashboard to access the nest. Consult with your owner’s manual to find out how to remove your dashboard. Keep in mind that this can be a long and tedious process. It may take 10-20 hours to remove it properly.

While wearing gloves and the respirator, remove any debris leftover from the mice. You should be able to see the nest this point. Remove it and any dead mice that may be inside.

Always put safety first when doing this kind of work. Mouse droppings and dead mice are both health hazards that can make you very ill. If you’re worried about your health, contact an exterminator for help.

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