Creatures Great and Small … In Your Car?

3 min read

|By Chilton Staff|

What makes a home? For many, protection from the elements and warmth is essential. Those same essentials are what can make your vehicle a cozy castle for creatures great and small. On wintry nights, a warm engine, tasty wires, and other chewable components can make a vehicle into an inviting “mobile home” for insects, mammals, and their offspring.

People in rural areas have long dealt with everything from bugs to bears in their vehicles. City dwellers experienced more intrusions during the pandemic when their vehicles sat for long stretches. But, whatever the weather, and wherever it sits, a vehicle can be a haven for wildlife.

Having strangers move in is not entirely preventable, but there are some things a vehicle owner can do. Leaving food or crumbs in the car is an invitation to dinner. Keep the area in, around, and under your vehicle clean. Seal openings in a garage. Check under the hood periodically for food, stowaways, and damage. And, regularly driving a vehicle that sits for long periods may dislodge squatters.

When insects or mammals take up residence in a vehicle, the damage can cause problems: the car or truck may not start or may stall, the check engine light may come on or the air conditioning or heater may stop working, and nesting materials can fuel a fire. Depending on the nibbles or obstructions, there can be many different seemingly unrelated issues.

ChiltonLibrary’s auto manufacturer bulletins address vehicle issues, including damage from animal bites, as shown in this excerpt:

Animals and insects will chew and nest in vehicles regardless of the make, model, or components. However, some components are more attractive than others. Rice husks, flax, coconut shell, or other natural fibers can be incorporated in body insulation and seats.
When some supplies switched from petroleum-based to soy-based wiring insulation, rodents seemed to find the soy coverings delicious, damaging wiring in the process. One solution by Honda suggests covering wiring with hot chili pepper-flavored “rodent deterrent” tape.
Photo via Honda Service News, August 2010

Even small insects can cause damage, as these excerpts from ChiltonLibrary’s service and recall bulletins show:

ChiltonLibrary’s full-text automaker bulletins and recalls give users access to information about issues that can affect vehicles, such as animal and insect damage. In addition, ChiltonLibrary’s repair procedures show the steps to repair and replace damaged parts, while labor estimating can help users understand the time involved to make a repair.

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