Rodent Infestation? How to Get Mice Out of Your Car

To get mice out of your car, you may need to clean out any garbage in your vehicle, vacuum up waste, lay traps, and clean your car’s engine compartment.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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To get mice out of your car, you will need to clean out any garbage in your vehicle, vacuum out any waste, and lay traps for your furry invaders. You may also need to clean your car’s engine compartment.
  • Getting mice out of your car will involve plenty of cleaning and disinfecting—and for serious rodent infestations, you might need to call in a professional.
  • Car troubles, foul odors, and chewed upholstery are all signs you might have mice in your car.
  • To prevent mice from entering your car in the future, keep your car clean and park away from likely food sources if possible.

How to get mice out of your car

  1. Gather supplies:  First, you will need rubber gloves and a mask. You’re going to need to clean your trunk, glove compartment, and passenger cabin so the mice don’t have any food to eat or places to hide. You should also don a long sleeve shirt and pants. Mice carry numerous diseases, and you need to avoid direct contact with their urine and feces as you sanitize your car.
  2. Ventilate: Open your car’s doors and windows. You don’t want to inhale the fumes of the cleaning products you’ll be using. 
  3. Disinfect: Apply a disinfectant to the interior of your car. Make sure you hit all items and waste. Take care and ensure you’re using a disinfectant that won’t damage your car’s upholstery.
  4. Clean up trash: Throw away any garbage inside your car. Remove any unnecessary clutter, particularly any items that may contain food residue. If you park in a garage or lot, clean the area surrounding your car, denying mice a place to shelter. 
  5. Vacuum: Make sure all mice droppings are cleared from your car. Open all the doors and vacuum the interior. The vacuum’s noise may scare living mice away.
  6. Disinfect again: Wipe down all surfaces on the interior of your car, as well as any items that may be stored in your cabin.
  7. Clean the engine compartment: If you found signs of mice in your engine compartment, you’ll need to clean there, too. Make sure you disconnect your battery first. You don’t want to get burned or shocked as you clear out nesting material and sanitize the space. 
  8. Deter living mice: If you suspect there are still living mice in your car, loud noises like honking your horn repeatedly may scare them out. If you suspect you have mice in your HVAC system, you could try blasting the heat to make them uncomfortable and force them out of hiding. As a last resort, you may want to consider mouse traps or repellent.
  9. Remove dead mice: Ensure you’re wearing gloves as you do so. Sanitize the area with disinfectant and throw out all cleaning materials when you’re done. 
  10. Clean up: Doff your gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. 
  11. Lay traps: Snap traps, glue traps, and electronic traps are all effective at catching mice. Place traps throughout the interior of your car, as well as atop your tires, which mice may climb to access your engine. 
  12. Address lingering odors: If your mouse problem leaves lingering, unpleasant odors, try neutralizing them with baking soda, activated charcoal, white vinegar, or ground coffee.
  13. Check for damage: Though having to deal with the stench once they die is bad enough, animal invaders can also chew through your wiring and cause power shorts and system failures. If this happens while you're driving, it could lead to a nasty accident. After removing the mice, check around the areas where you discovered them for signs of damage to catch potential problems early on.
  14. Call for help: If your mouse problem is out of control, and the above steps haven’t worked, call a pest control specialist. They’ll work with you to quickly and safely expel the rodents from your car and get you back on the road.

Signs of mice in your car

Below are some telltale signs you have a rodent infestation on your hands:
  • Car trouble: Unfortunately, many drivers don’t realize they have a mice problem until the critters have already done damage to their car. The first signs of mice may be your car not starting or other electrical failures.  Mice burrow in vehicles, chewing on wires and lodging themselves in engine compartments. There’s evidence that the rodents find new soy-based wire insulation to be particularly delicious. Modern automobiles are complex machines, and cut wiring can cause serious problems. 
  • Chewed upholstery: Mice build nests, and to do so, they need materials. Mice like cars because they provide the creatures with a buffet of materials to build their homes. This may include insulation, seat padding, or foam. 
  • Foul odors: This is where the signs get a little gross. Bad smells coming from your car’s air vents could mean you have a pest problem. Mice use air vents as tunnels to traverse the inner workings of automobiles and access insulation and foam that they can use to build their nests. A foul smell may develop as they urinate and defecate in the vents. Worse yet, mice may die inside your vents, causing an unbearable stench. 
  • Mouse droppings: Animals leave waste, and mice are no exception. Droppings on your car’s dashboard, seats, or carpeting are sure signs that mice are living in your vehicle.
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Prevent mice from entering your car

Follow these steps to help prevent mice from entering your car in the first place:
  • Clean your car: Clean it well, and clean it often. Remove any trash or unnecessary clutter. Be especially vigilant about removing items containing food residue. You want to deny mice any materials that will help them nest, hide, or feed.
  • Keep your car dry: Mice like moisture. Blocked filters and leaky heaters may cause condensation to build up in your car. Take your car to a mechanic if you suspect you have such an issue. Also, make sure you remove damp clothes and towels from your car, as they can also attract mice.
  • Rake your leaves: Piling foliage provides mice with a direct pathway into your car. It also offers them an easy place to shelter and hide. Ensure you clear your car of any surrounding leaves or debris. 
  • Close your doors and windows: Mice can’t infest your car if they can’t get into it. Don’t forget about your sunroof!
  • Use scents they don’t like: Use something mice find stinky to make your car a less appealing hideaway. You could try Pine-Sol, peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls, cedarwood chips, cat fur, cat litter, Irish Spring soap, or dryer sheets, to name a few options. Cayenne pepper could work, too—but be careful about turning on your vents or inhaling it, or you’ll be sorry.

Why do mice nest in cars?

Cars make perfect homes for mice for a number of reasons:
  • Safety: Mice need secure spaces to nest, and cars provide them with shelter from predators and the elements. 
  • Food: If you leave crumbs, wrappers, and snacks in your car, you’ve made for a mouse’s paradise. Parking near a dumpster may make your car even more attractive to mice, as they prefer to live near a ready food source. 
  • Warmth: Cars radiate heat for hours after they’re turned off, making them perfect places for mice to cuddle up and warm themselves.

Does car insurance cover rodent damage?

Depending on your insurance provider, damage to your car from rodents may be covered through optional
comprehensive coverage
in your auto insurance policy. If that’s the case, you will only be responsible for paying your deductible. 
It’s important you periodically check and update your car insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage you need—in case of mice or any other accidents!
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