Why do rodents eat car wires?

The most common type of rodent damage is chewed and eaten car wires from rodents like mice, rats, and squirrels. The warmth of your car's engine and electrical system attracts them, particularly during cold weather. And, according to Consumer Reports, chewing on wires and other car parts helps rodents keep their teeth trimmed.

How does auto insurance cover rodent damage?

If your auto insurer covers animal damage from rodents, it will typically be included as part of your policy's comprehensive coverage. You may need to submit photos of the damage to your insurer as part of the claims process, though this may vary by insurer. Comprehensive can also cover damage from collisions with deer, birds, and other animals.

How can I tell if a rodent has damaged my car?

There are signs to look for that may indicate if a mouse, rat, or squirrel is eating your car's wires. If your vehicle is well maintained and the "check engine" light suddenly turns on, or the car won't start, this could mean that rodents have damaged your car's wiring.

When checking under the hood, look for any signs of rodent droppings in and around the engine block. If you suspect a rodent has damaged your vehicle, ask your mechanic to take a look. Taking this step could save you a lot of money, as replacing a cable or wire will be less expensive than a more labor-intensive overhaul to locate the source of the damage.

How to stop rodents from chewing car wires

Even if your auto insurance policy covers rodent damage, it's best to take preventative measures to prevent damage that could be inconvenient or costly. Follow these steps to prevent or reduce the risk of squirrels, rats, or mice eating your car's wires:

  • Be careful where you park: Don't leave your car in an area prone to attracting rodents. Most creatures tend to be drawn toward food sources and unlit areas. For example, if your garage has a rat problem, don't park in it until you can hire an exterminator. If possible, park your vehicle under a streetlight and away from trash cans.
  • Park indoors if possible: If your garage is clean and pest-free, then parking indoors is better than outdoors to deter rodents.
  • Keep your vehicle clean: Don't leave food wrappers or other kinds of trash in your vehicle that might attract rodents. Since smells attract vermin, try spraying a rodent repellent like peppermint oil in and around your vehicle to keep them away.
  • Make it a moving target: If you don't drive your vehicle frequently, move it to a different spot weekly. Animals are creatures of habit and will more likely be drawn to a vehicle that remains stationary. Moving your car regularly will make it a less appealing target.