Vermin control in your vehicles

Remedies from the Classic Car Restoration Club Members

By Mark Simpson

Q: I have a problem with rats and mice getting into my cars and eating wire harnesses, vacuum hoses, and spark plug wires. Do you have any ideals about what to do? They are getting to be an expensive problem! Bob

A: I’ve heard many remedies for this, but the two I see come up more than any other is mothballs and dryer sheets. A more recent cure states cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil keeps the mice away and leaves your car minty fresh smelling. Mothballs are the traditional method, and mice can’t stand the smell of them. Unfortunately, not many people like the smell either. The dryer sheets have more appeal because people aren’t offended by the aroma. Just place a few sheets inside the car, and maybe a couple under hood and underneath the car as well. Tossing one in the trunk wouldn’t be a bad idea either. There are multiple ideas for effective bait traps as well, but they are detailed and I don’t have the room to expand on the subject here. If I were you, I’d try the dryer sheets first, and see if they don’t work to keep the critters away from your rides. If they don’t, let us know. I’m sure other Members have dealt with this same issue successfully, and will offer their ideas too.

A: Try whole cloves they work for us with the cars and boats. Wayne

A: Try Irish Spring soap. Buy a bar and put some shavings in a plastic container, punch some holes in the lid and place a few in the car. It works well – I’ve been doing it for years and never had a problem. Joel

A: You can also get a plug in that gives off a high frequency sound that you or your pets don’t hear but rodents don’t like. That seems to work I have a couple in with my collector cars. That seems to work. Mothballs didn’t. I got them at Rona, where the mouse traps are. Bill

A: I support the Irish Spring method. I spread shavings in the interior, trunk, on the intake manifold, the heater box, etc. Been doing this for many years. Bruce

A: I have been using Irish Spring soap for over 10 years and I have had no problems. Ron

A: I experienced that costly problem once. I now use both an electrical plug in “ultrasonic” sound unit and Febreze scented dryer sheets. Bill

A: I’ve been using the ultrasonic with the flash in all of mine for years now and it works. Mike

A: Dryer sheets work only as long as they smell which doesn’t last long. I would try the vermin control devices that plug into an electrical socket. Try putting one in the car with an extension cord. Gary

A: Those electronic repellants don’t work. Watch the tests on YouTube. Keith

A: The thing I do and have no problems in the barn is to raise the hood. They like closed in places, with the vehicle hood up it seems to work if you can do that where your vehicle is parked. Tom

A: Another option is to sprinkle bay leaves throughout the vehicle. I’ve been very successful over the past few years with a bay leaf and dryer sheet combination. But, I really caution anyone from using moth balls which, chemically is paradichlorobenzene and is a known toxic. In humans and other animals, paradichlorobenzene is broken down in the body to form other compounds that may be harmful to cells or organs such as the liver. Just not worth the chance. In fact, I’ve even stopped frequenting restaurants that use this chemical combination in their urinal pucks. This year as an extra measure of prevention, I’m using corn-based mouse poison in containers throughout the garage and vehicles. Chris

A: Irish spring soap use a cheese grater put on a paper plate in trunk, under hood and in front and rear passenger foot wells. No more critters. Chris

A: I have had really good luck with the dryer sheets but buy the good ones…the cheap ones don’t last. The other thing I do is put sticky traps in the car just to catch any mice with sinus issues. I am going to try the Irish Spring trick too. Jeff

A: I use an extension cord just through one of the windows, and plug in a varmint high frequency sound device bought at Walmart. Get the $20 dollar something model. I also use one in my travel trailer, works great. James

A: Had the same issue on a 98 jeep and 2003 jeep, the issues were squirrels. Tried everything, no real luck. Someone suggested FlexSeal, the stuff they advertise on TV. Figured a $5 investment wouldn’t hurt. Sprayed the areas they attacked plus some other general areas, no issues yet and it has been over a year. Edward

A: I have had little luck with moth balls, mice built a nest right on top of them. Dryer sheets not sure, still mouse droppings. Putting the car on a lift is the only way I have had total success with. Once a car has had mice they love to go back. Hate mice! Calvin

A: A friend is in the professional “pest control” business recommends the “bait blocks” that are available at places like Tractor Supply. He says that a hungry rodent will just ignore the smell and eat what it can find, so he does not put any bets on effective control with moth balls, dryer sheets or peppermint oil. I think the bait blocks work best outside the car, such as under it and or around it, why invite rodents to dine in the vehicle. I have added the electronic rodent control devices to my garage and barn and have had good results. Richard

A: I have tried many different approaches to this problem and this has worked the best for me:
Flashing LEDs and I mount them on a 1×6 placed under the car. Has effectively kept critters of all kinds out of my cars. A Jack Russell Terrier is also an effective deterrent, keeps the population under control! Lawrence

A: I’ve been told that parking on hail screen works well. Don

A: I have been using a product called “Fresh Cab.” It comes in a satchel bag and it has kept them out of my 54 Ford in the garage. I started using these after I found that mice set up house throughout my car. The smell is actually pretty good and it is supposed to be a natural repellant to mice and it will last about four months for each pouch. They also do not like peppermint scent. You could make your own satchels using peppermint oil like they do to help the house smell good. Hope this helps. Leeand

A: OK, after chasing these “rats” away from my inside and outside stored drivers and classic cars using everything all you guys mention and found they all work in the garage, but outside is a whole new ball game especially on newer cars that have wire insulation made from biodegradable material like soy beans (which I guess is mighty tasty to those big bill creators.) and if you live in the Midwest and do short hops in weather conditions where the outside temp goes up and down like a yo-yo! It just cost me $1,700 to replace the injector wire harness and the EFI ECU or ECM because our little buddies chewed through the insulation causing a short and opens at the connects for the injectors which in turn cause end stage failures for the injectors in the ECM. Results were dead misses. The reason they got into our 2004 Caddy CTS is because we are both retired and have our own old cars to do long runs to car shows during that season so they are garaged so the Caddy sits outside for short hops which heats the engine enough to invite whatever to use the car for overnight warm sleeping quarters with an acquitted supply of biodegradable material like soy beans to munch on during the night. I knew the other suggestions and ideas I used wouldn’t work outside, but I found some stuff called “Stop the Rodent” spray 24 ounce bottle from an online seller. One bottle did the car just fine and it kinda smells like good ole turpentine at first but the smell did not last long. I’ll let you know if it does not work out. I have a ’39 Ford that we use a lot for shows and is covered outside that is a street rod with a “Painless” wire harness in it which I have done nothing to protect it with and it is blocked in by the Caddy at night, no damage on that one yet but I hung one of those big round 4″ diameter moth balls in the plastic hanger under the hood soon after I found out what happened to the Caddy. I hope that keeps them a bay and does not stink up the coupe on me. Grumpy John

A: I have had luck with both the electronic devices and Irish Spring. We even use the Irish Spring under our summer home to keep critters out during the winter. We learned the hard way after a $1,600 repair bill on our BMW. $60 hose but had to remove the fuel tank to access. Jon

A: Try picking up a free cat. Worked for years in my garage. Keeps the mice away or eats them and keeps you company while you work. Todd

A: I have tried dryer sheets, mothballs, Irish spring soap and peppermint on cotton balls. With no success. However the last 20 years I’ve gone to the grocery store and bought Bay Leaves. Just sprinkle them everywhere in and out of the car. In the spring just vacuum them up. 20 years and no problems. Mick

A: Have you ever smelled mothballs? How did you get their tiny legs apart? Warren

A: The only thing that works for me, after I tried the things you indicated is, called Fresh Cab. It was invented by a lady in North Dakota to keep mice out of her father’s tractor cab. I have used this Fresh Cab for over 10 years and never had a mouse in my cars. I also put this product one each side of my garage door, so far no mice in my garage. David

A: Dryer sheets don’t work. I put dryer sheets and Irish spring soap in my RV and the mice made a nest on top of the dryer sheets right next to the soap. Moth balls seem to work. Have not tried peppermint oil yet. Going to try that next. Randy

A: I tried Grandpa Gus’s mouse repellent last winter, and did not have any problems with rodents in my cars. I have also used Irish Spring soap. Cut a bar in 3 or 4 pieces, and put them in trays, slide them under the car and put out the No Vacancy sign for the mice. Mike

A: I have used dryer sheets with pretty good success, but then I heard about sprinkling a line of Ajax powdered cleanser in a line on the ground surrounding your car. I tried this and am waiting for spring to see the results! Cary

A: There are no rats where I live thank the powers that be, but there are lots of mice. The only way to effectively deal with mice is to get rid of them. Spring traps seem to work best. Peanut butter works as bait, but mice can lick it off of the trigger with their light touch tongues without springing the trap and that’s useless. Instead, bait the traps with dental floss. Wrap it around the paddle and tie it off. Cut off any loose ends. Sweeten the pot with a light smudge of peanut butter on the floss. Mice will view the dental floss as nesting material and will tug on it to try to free it. That results in a snap and… That deals with the vermin in your garage. The other thing that is essential is to determine where they are coming in and close those entry points to keep them out. You don’t want to deal with this problem more than once. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun. Mice can squeeze through an opening as small as the size of a dime. Ensure all openings are closed. It’s not good enough to just caulk. They will simply chew through. Mice don’t like steel wool. Plug holes with that, then caulk. Hardware cloth is another excellent deterrent. Use 1/4 inch or smaller. Remember, that they can squeeze through an opening as small as a dime. Remember too that steel wool and hardware cloth rust. Both will have to be replaced from time to time. Yes, that’s a pain, but it’s much less painful than dealing with vermin and the damage they cause. Have fun! Dave

A: I am the owner of Expert Pest Control in Burlington NJ for 30 years and have seen it all when it comes to home remedies for mouse control. I can tell you that none of them, including the store bought ultrasonic devices work all of the time. First seal all the holes in the garage, mice need only 1/4 of an inch to get in. Spray foam does not work they can chew thru it. Steel wool and silicone caulk work the best. Second set up tamper resistant bait stations, on the outside of the garage, with rodenticide to kill off the population BEFORE they get in. Refill the bait stations monthly. As added protection install tincats with glueboard inside, to catch any mice that may still sneak in. Place the tincats next to each tire with peanut butter in the middle of the glueboard. The key to good mouse control is the seal up and most important is killing them on the outside before they get inside. The outside rodent control should be done all year long. Ken

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