There are many reasons to store a car for long periods of time, winter weather conditions, traveling, moving, no-use, finances; feel free to pick your reason. But if you are going to be returning to the car at some point, either to use it or sell it, you’ll want to make sure that it’s not being inhabited while it’s supposed to be “vacant”! One of the biggest issues with storing cars is rodent infestation. Among the many preparations you should make for storing the car like unplugging the battery, changing the oil, and filling the fuel tank; you’ll do best to make sure that you’re keeping vermin away from your vehicle to avoid major damage and an expensive detailing once you decide to return to the car. This topic came to mind because we had a customer come into our shop who recently bought a relatively new Audi TT. The previous owner was trying to get rid of it after it had been stuck in some warehouse for months on end. Once he purchased the car he noticed an intense smell that he couldn’t pin point…until he opened his trunk. The trunk was covered with mice droppings! His next stop was at our shop for a complete interior detail. Once we inspected it, we confirmed that we could clean it up and get the smell out. We then realized that the droppings were not contained to just the trunk, they were all over the floor of the cabin and underneath the seats! So we stripped the car and did a thorough cleaning. But this got us thinking, what else could be at risk because of the mice? We need to be sure before returning the car to the owner. The Risks - Droppings lead to foul smells as well as risks for disease Beyond the idea of driving a car for longer than is necessary with mice droppings, the risks for diseases are pretty significant. You’ll want to rid the car of any and all contaminants as well as disinfect it. Just a few of the possible diseases associated with mice droppings include, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Lassa Fever, and Plague. Not an consequence that’s worth risking while you wait to get the car cleaned. - Mice like to chew on things Cars are filled with wires, cables, lines, and belts. For some reason these mice chew on these things like it’s going to evoke supernatural abilities in them. This is one reason to inspect the car before starting it. If these mice got a hold of a primary cable or the timing belt, that’s going to be a major problem that’s not easy or inexpensive to fix. - Nests created in the engine compartment This is one that is easily overlooked. These mice can build nests to stay warm and sometimes the engine compartment is the easiest place to do so. If you start the engine and drive with these nests still in the engine compartment, you risk your car overheating because of improper air circulation and cooling.
Best Practices - Inspect the car every week or two Although this may seem inconvenient for you, this will be the best way to be proactive. If you inspect the car every now and then and check in and around the car for mice or rats, you’ll be able to get them before they have caused much or any damage. – Invest in some repellants There are a number of options for this. You have your standard traps and poison, but unless you want to be going in there and cleaning them up from time to time, I’d suggest another option. There are these electronic ultrasonic rat repellants. You plug them in and they emit some frequency that makes vermin go crazy. This will be a good way to make any mice that are already in there leave and refrain from discarding any remains. You could also leave a trail of mothballs and peppermint soaked cotton balls around the perimeter of the car; the smell is repulsive to the vermin. There are plenty of things to do before returning to a car in storage, make sure that clearing out rodents isn’t one of them. We hope you find this helpful, but if you have any other insight or tips please feel free to leave us a comment!