Getting Rid of Mice in Your Car

One of the most frequently asked questions that I see asked about mice is probably one of the most difficult to answer: How do I get a mouse out of my car?  The easiest solution is to make sure it doesn’t get there in the first place, but something tells me that if you’re reading this article it may be too late for that.  One of the primary reasons someone would seek out a do-it-yourself method for getting rid of mice in your car is because hiring a professional can be expensive.  Some folks have received estimates upward of $2000 to find and remove a mouse.  That’s a huge bill nobody needs during these difficult economic times.

The reason it costs so much to remove a mouse from your vehicle though is because there are so many places a mouse can hide.  Not only that, but the potential damage to your car is even greater.  In the best case scenario, a mechanic has to disassemble your vehicle to an unknown extent, and then he has to put it back together again.  In the worst case scenario, you’re looking at the disassembly / reassembly, but also potential damage to wires, seals, belts, and other important components of your vehicle due to gnawing and nesting.  This is an experience no car owner should have to deal with, but where there is food and shelter, there will be mice.

As I’ve said numerous times before, mice are looking for two primary things:  food and shelter.  If mice don’t have a source of food, they will not stay for long.  If they can’t find an adequately safe place to nest, they will continue on their merry way.  As fall approaches and it starts to get cooler, your car is a very attractive shelter.  After being driven around for a period of time, your engine bay is an excellent source of warmth that lures mice toward it.  Coupled with the fact that there are small, tight nooks and crannies for a mouse to hide in, it makes a perfect shelter.  The other convenient thing about garages is that they tend to be attached to homes.  As we all know, homes have food in them which satisfies the other requirement for mice to want to stick around.  Your garage is like beach front property to a mouse.  It’s a perfect place to hide itself away and right next to the ultimate source of food.  So what’s it going to take to get rid of mice in your car?

If you’re the kind of person who leaves old fast food packages on the floor of your car, you’re just asking for trouble…

If you want to get rid of mice for good, you need to take away their food and shelter, or else they’re going to just keep coming back.  Start off by cleaning out your car.  Do a thorough job to include vacuuming.  It’s great if you pick up the McDonald’s wrappers, but if there are crumbs on the floor, that will be sufficient to keep the mice close at hand.  Also, you need to lock up the food in your home and garage.  A great supply of food for mice is pet food that is left in the typical paper bag packaging.  Mice will chew right through it and have a lifetime supply of food at their disposal.  Use sealable plastic containers.  They even have big ones for big bags.  This step alone will greatly reduce the risk of you getting mice.  You also need to secure food in your home as well.  If there is no food in your house and garage, the mice will just move on to your neighbors.  When that happens, you can direct them to this site. :)

The other little trick you can do is to move your car.  Mice tend to stick a localized area.  They do not stray far from their nest.  If you time it right, the mouse may be out foraging and when it comes back to where your car should be, it won’t find it there.  The key to this is that you have to move the car a sufficient distance from your original parking spot so the mouse can’t smell it.  Mice have an extremely acute sense of smell, and are known to make their way back home from miles away.  Now I don’t suggest you park five miles away and walk uphill both ways, but move your vehicle to the street instead of the garage.  Where your car used to be parked, set a couple mouse traps and bait them with peanut butter.  When the mouse is trying to go “home” in your car, it will find some food instead and hopefully meet its untimely demise.  Also set a couple traps in and around your car.  If the mouse is inside, and the car moves, it will have to come out eventually for food (assuming you successfully cleaned out your car).  A hungry mouse is an easy mouse to catch, especially since you’re going to provide easy access to a couple different food sources in the form of bait on a trap.

One possible side effect of moving your car out of the picture is that the mouse may migrate into your home.  While undesirable, it is probably better than having the mouse as a resident of your car.  It’s a lot cheaper to call a mouse exterminator than it is to hire a mechanic to find a mouse that has wedged itself and gotten stuck.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to successfully get rid of mice in your car.  If you’re still having trouble with mice, then re-evaluate the surroundings.  Remember that the best way to get rid of mice is to not get mice in the first place.  Once you take care of your problem this year, remember to adequately prepare next year and maintain a clean garage and home so as not to attract mice in the future.

One final note… a mouse in your car could pose as a potentially hazardous situation that could be dangerous.  Granted I haven’t seen any recent news stories where mice have killed their hosts, but it is not something to be taken lightly.  The integrity of your vehicle’s operation could be compromised which may be a safety hazard.  For example, a mouse could have chewed through the coating of wires and exposed a potential electrical hazard.  This may result in a fire or other unexpected consequences.  For this reason, it is recommended that you take your vehicle to a certified mechanic to be inspected for any possible damage.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with mice, please leave a note in the comments.

Best of luck in your mouse hunting adventures!

7 Responses

  1. Anonymous December 1, 2012 / 2:13 am

    i am so frustrated! I don’t eat in my car and have cleaned it out quite often since I found mouse droppings. The mouse or mice have made a nest under the hood of my car with insulation from our garage wall. since we found the source of the nest, I have move the car out of the garage. I have removed the nest 3 times, put out sticky traps, put out 2 traps with peanut butter on them (wrapped with string), and just recently put out mouse poison. the peanut butter was eaten but the traps were not set. Today I saw that the poison was eaten and I found another nest in the engine area. I cleaned it out, vacuuming with the shop vac. I am a a loss-tired of cleaning out mouse droppings, tired of not being able to park in my garage, having to scrape windows in the morning! HELP!

    • Jim December 1, 2012 / 11:16 am

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble with mice. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

      The reason the mice keep making your way to the car is not because of the food; it’s because of the warmth of your engine after you’ve returned from a trip.

      As painful as this sounds, keep your car(s) out of the garage for a couple weeks – no cheating. :) During this time, a full fledged assault needs to take place. Setting traps are important, but you should also try removing clutter from the garage. Don’t just look on the ground… mice are excellent climbers, so you might also want to look up … shelves, attics, crawl spaces, etc…

      Try to figure out how they’re getting in. Seal that access point.

      They may already have other nests in your garage. Do you have any dryer vents, or other warm areas? Give it a thorough clean out to make sure there aren’t more nests you haven’t found yet.

      Eliminate food sources… any pet food in the garage? Seal it tightly.

      One other thing… since you’ve used poison, I highly recommend keeping your car far away from the garage. If a mouse gets in one of your car vents and finally dies from the poison (remember, they will be attracted to warmth), you’re going to be driving around with the windows down in sub-zero temperatures because the stench is so awful. It’s one of the reasons I’m not a fan of poison. You lose control of where the mouse dies… it could be anywhere, and when that body starts decomposing (it may freeze now, and not start smelling to next spring even!), it’s not pleasant.

      I know what I’ve proposed is easier said than done, but if you keep at it, you will prevail.

      Good luck!

    • Anonymous December 17, 2012 / 5:57 pm

      I recommend putting a tarp on the car, wrap it up tight, and throwing moth balls in it. give it a chance!

  2. Anonymous January 16, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    I am having a similiar situation. I had to take my car in to change my wires and fix the engine. They cleaned everything out. I live in an apartment building and I have an outside parking lot which I pay for annually to park in. They are starting to come back into my engine and leaving food in my engine. I am unable to set traps because I do park outside. Is there anything else that I can do to prevent the mices/rats from getting in.

  3. Anonymous October 8, 2013 / 7:09 pm

    One thought to prevent mice from staying in warm engine: lift hood and
    let engine cool off more quickly.

  4. Anonymous November 27, 2013 / 6:59 pm

    i used peppermint oil yesterday night ( i heard mice hate it) and i had no new mice poo this morning. I just threw a couple cotton balls with peppermint oil on them in non hot engine areas overnight and removed them before driving again. Engine smells like candy canes but it seemed to work so far!

  5. Anonymous March 16, 2014 / 1:15 pm

    If 4 household foggers are placed into an air tight car in one in the truck and wait 6 hours for the fumes to work, it should be enough to kill it. Now you have to remove the thing, good-luck in finding him.
    Insure you air out the car before driving it!
    Use foggers that are pilot light save to remove fire danger…

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