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The National Pest Management Association explains why rodents invade cars

Stephen Moore

January 16, 2017

2 Min Read
Rodents wired to infest motor vehicles

Many causes are possible when vehicles experience problems, but it might surprise motorists to learn that a rodent infestation could be one of them. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA; Fairfax, VA), several innate factors drive rodents under the hood, leading to car damage, particularly during wintertime.

Rats and mice are particularly fond of natural raw material-based plastic wire encapsulation according to the NPMA.

“Vehicles possess the ideal attributes that attract rodents in winter, including shelter and built-up warmth from commutes,” says Michael Bentley, Ph.D., a staff entomologist at NPMA. “Rodents hate being out in the open where they are vulnerable to predators, so when they see a car holding freshly generated heat that also offers protection from the great outdoors, they are drawn to it for cover.”

Entering into cars is easy — a mouse, for example, can squeeze through openings as small as a dime. Once inside, any crumbs the owner leaves behind, or other chewable items, will hold rodents’ attention, and that includes wires.

“Rodents are instinctively avid chewers. About three percent of their daily activity is just gnawing on objects like wires,” says Bentley. “Unfortunately, cars have an abundance of materials that rodents enjoy chewing through.”

Changes in car design may also attract rodents. Recently, numerous consumers have reported experiencing rodent infestations in their cars, attributing them to the materials manufacturers are using in their eco-friendly models, such as soy-based plastic wire and cable encapsulation, which is especially appealing to a rodent’s palate.

Costly car repairs aside, rodents can also have negative effects on human health. They can, for example, cause respiratory issues, including asthma and allergy symptoms.

To eliminate the likelihood of rodents infesting a vehicle, keep trash in tightly closed containers and seal up points of entry into the garage. Drivers should also regularly look under the hood for gnawed materials, nests, droppings and frayed wires.

NPMA also recommends getting cars checked by professional automobile mechanics if signs of rodents are found, and to consider partnering with licensed pest control professionals to help with the infestation at home.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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