Auto repair shops find plenty signs of rodents living under the hood, munching wires

If you leave your car parked outside in the cold, you might want to invest in some moth balls.

That's one recommendation for getting rid of rodents that could be munching on the wires around your engine.

Auto technicians see signs of nesting rodents all the time.

"They're trying to find spots where it's warm," explained technician Gallagher Wilson. "Especially when it's cold out in the winter."

Gallagher and other automotive technicians across the Puget Sound region say they often discover traces of rodent nests during routine maintenance.

Experts say if you routinely park your car out in the cold, take a look under your hood. Even if your car is in the garage, rodents can make themselves at home around your engine.

"You're looking, usually, in any cavities," said Gallagher. "Nooks and crannies."

If you see rodent droppings, scraps of paper, foil, food wrappers or other debris - your car likely has a squatter.

Once they establish a nest, rodents tend to return to the same spot when the car is back in it's parking spot.

And the rodents aren't just looking for warm shelter, they're also looking for food.

"If they find insulation or other things that taste good, smell good, they'll go and start nibbling on those as well," Gallagher explained.

Technicians at High Road Automotive, where Gallagher works, make a point of clearing out any rodent nests they find. They also hose the engine to clear away debris and odor.

As for keeping rodents away from your car- experts recommend starting with moth balls.

"Moth balls in a small plastic bag somewhere out of the way of moving parts," Gallagher explained.

You don't need a lot. Three mothballs sealed in a small plastic bag will do. Poke a few small holes in the bag with the tip of a pair of scissors to release the scent.

"The smell of mothballs is a pretty strong deterrent," Gallagher said, adding that you'll also probably notice the smell when you're in the car.

Other options: Wrap your wires with special "rodent-deterrent" electrical tape that's been treated with a hot pepper compound (capsaicin) that rodents don't like. You can find the tape online if you search the key words Honda rodent tape or Mouse Blocker tape.

Experts also recommend predator urine. It's exactly what it sounds like and you can find it at many hardware stores. Be sure to read and follow instructions.

And pay special attention under the hood if your car wiring is wrapped with a soy-based insulation.

Soy-based insulation is supposed to be better for the environment. But, two class action lawsuits against Honda and Toyota claim soy-based insulation amounts to an "invitation" for rodents to take a bite.

Unhappy car owners question the product, and complain car makers won't cover rodent damage under their warranties.

Toyota would only respond to the lawsuits with the following written statement: “While we cannot comment on this litigation, we can say that rodent damage to vehicle wiring occurs across the industry, and the issue is not brand- or model-specific.”

Efforts are ongoing to get a response from Honda.

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