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We had a client call us in the week asking for help with a rat she found in her engine compartment. It all began when her car wouldn’t start, and when they opened the bonnet to investigate further, it turned out to be a rat that had chewed on the wiring and the starter motor was damaged.

Rodents and your car?

Rodents like to chew on things, and the main reason for this is a habit due to the rapid growth of their incisor teeth to keep their growth down, but they are also attracted to something in the wiring to feed on, or in the case of a vehicle- it may be the road salt. But apparently, there is a new attraction under the bonnet that scientists have discovered.

A few years ago, car manufacturers started making use of biodegradable, soy-based wiring insulation, because the soy wiring degrades in landfills, unlike older, petroleum-based, plastic-covered wiring. This wasn’t the best decision made, as Soy is food-based, and rodents are attracted to it and are likely to chew on newer wiring. Even worse, auto makers are starting to make other car parts, like seat padding with soy materials in an attempt to be more “environmentally friendly”. It can cost thousands of rands to have chewed wiring replaced and manufacturers say that this kind of damage is not covered under the vehicle’s warranty.

So, with this in mind, what can be done to prevent rats from chewing on vehicle wiring?

Moth balls could be a repellent to consider trying as a DIY solution; however with them working as a vapour, the vapour and smell would enter the vehicle through the air conditioner system, or worse they could ignite when too much heat is generated.

The best solution is to prevent rats from nesting nearby your vehicle, or prevent them from being attracted to the vehicle in the first place.

  • Keep the vehicle clean, with no food attractant within them or near them, keep clutter out of the car.
  • Ensure there are no other food sources near the vehicle within a garage or the area the vehicle is parked in, such as pet feeds or groceries.
  • Ensure refuse areas are kept clean, and that this is not posed as an attractant for rats to enter the vehicle if it is nearby.
  • Ensure the proofing of your garage area is addressed, such as spaces under doors kept sealed with weather strips, holes in walls, open windows kept closed, or even broken windows repaired etc. this is to keep rodents out.

If I am too late, and rodents have taken refuge in my garage, what can be done?

If you have noticed rodent activity, rodent droppings or their damage within the area a vehicle is parked, you need to firstly put a rodent control programme in place, and to check under the bonnet regularly to inspect for any signs of rodent activity. Gnaw marks would be evident on plastic parts in the engine compartment, check the wiring for signs of infestation, including debris being present under the bonnet, or even rodent urine being deposited.
If any of these signs are noticed, a professional service provider is recommended.

How can the professionals help you?

The Flick technician will assess the site before commencing with a treatment plan; he will advise you of any housekeeping and proofing recommendations to assist in controlling the infestation.

Flick would Place rodent bait within bait stations inside the garage, and bait stations, and/ or installing tamper proof rodent bait stations around the external perimeter of the garage. In doing so this, it will entice the rodents to feed on a more desirable food alternative rather than the car’s wiring.

Follow-up services would be recommended, and are normally offered in our maintenance service agreements.

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