A mouse can be a good thing, if you are using it on your desk top to navigate the web. The original version, however, with hair and teeth, can be a problem.

I had an interesting conversation with my neighbor recently, and we somehow got to talking about cars. Imagine that.

But she had two different stories of two different cars, both of them crippled by mice.

She runs a small nursery business with her husband, and May was such a busy month for them this year that her car didn’t leave the barn for a couple of weeks.

When things settled down, and she got back to driving her fairly new (30,000 miles) car, it wasn’t running right. She took it in for service, and the shop found a mouse nest under the plastic engine cover. The mouse or mice had chewed through one of the spark plug wires, causing that cylinder not to fire. The repair bill came to $375, and was (of course) not covered by the vehicle warranty.

There are a couple of lessons here for all of us:

1.) Mice do exist, and if a car sits for more than a couple of days, the little critters may try to find a home in any small space in the vehicle. This is a photo of a nest I once found in the cabin air filter of my old minivan.

cabinfilter Gordys Garage: Got Mice?

(credit: CBS)

2.) Car makers love engine covers these days. They help keep engine noise out of the passenger compartment, and make the engine compartment look “nicer.” If you have mouse concerns, however, you might want to investigate removing the engine cover. That way, you could check for mice signs by just popping the hood.

My neighbor’s other mouse story involved a car she was sharing one summer with her daughter. The gas gauge always read “full” so each assumed the other had been adding the fuel. Until mom found herself out of gas and stranded on the side of the road. Can you tell where this story is going?

Sure enough, a mouse had established residence ABOVE the gas tank, and chewed through the wire that connected the fuel level sensor in the tank to the gas gauge in the dash. With no signal from the tank, the gauge defaulted to “full.” No amount of looking around, in and under the car would have revealed that nest.

The best defense against mice, I think, is to drive the vehicle every day or perhaps every other day. This should give the critters the idea that they have chosen a really bad place to live.

I have had good luck putting about a dozen fabric-softner dryer sheets throughout the interior and trunk of my ’47 Ford when I store it for the winter … apparently mice don’t like the aroma. But I must say the car “sleeps” in the same heated garage with our two fully-clawed indoor-outdoor cats.

  1. Jane Benson says:

    We have a mouse (probably) that has gotten up into our exhaust pipe – whenever we use the vehicle there is a bad smell coming from the exhaust. We took it to the dealer after several weeks of it, and they found nothing, but obviously something is there. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

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