How To Get Rats Out Of Your Car

Rats and other critters take shelter in automobiles a lot, especially in the frigid cold of winter. Some of them get so comfortable being insulated from the cold and from predators that they actually start to live there. This does not only happen to old or stationery cars too, many a seasoned car mechanic will tell of their encounter with rats in vehicle engine compartments.

Unfortunately, the propensity of rats to gnaw and chew at cables and wires does not auger well for the car owner as they often cause extensive damage under the hood. They cause a whole lot of wiring problems when they chew on wires, especially in hidden places that are hard to spot. Telltale signs of rats living in your car include sightings of droppings and trash, dusty footprints, and nibbled plastic or padding.

 Getting rid of rats living in your car can be done in the following ways:

1. Prevention is key. If you have had this problem before or if your car is going to be stationery for a while in a rat-prone environment, try prevention. For one, park it in a garage and keep food and seeds away from it. These include pet food, trash cans, bird seed, spray cheese, and what have you.

2. Set up a snap trap. These essentially attract a rat with a food bait and then swiftly clamps down on the ratís neck once the trigger is activated. The rat dies instantly in most cases and can be disposed of properly. In disposing of both rat and trap, ensure that you wear rubber gloves and spray the trap with a ten percent bleach solution to disinfect before discarding it. Live traps are not recommended in this case, as the trapped rat would continue to defecate in the engine space and could possibly bite.

3. Install ultrasonic sound devices, which emit frequencies that rats find irritating in your car hood. These are very much available in stores.

4. After getting rid of the rat(s), carefully pressure wash the engine compartment to clear all remaining feces or urine away. Leaving this undone is a sure way to invite your rodent visitors right back into the car.

5. Avoid using a car cover, if possible

 Some ineffective methods to get rats out of your car:

  • Spraying at the rat with a squirt bottle
  • Blasting the car undercarriage with an air hose
  • Gunning your car round the field in a bid to unsettle and dislodge the varmint
  • Cursing at it

Read more about rats:
Do cats keep rats away?
Do rats carry rabies?
Can Rats Chew Through Wires in a Car?
Does car insurance cover rat damage?

 Reader Email:

I have attached some pictures of damage to my car under a carport. I live in SE Kansas just outside city limits and surrounded by fields. I am trying to figure out what kind of rodent these droppings are from. They look pretty good size. They did $3700 worth of damage in a short period of time. Someone suggested peppermint oil on a cotton ball and change out every 2 weeks in the engine area. Someone else suggested taking the covers off all the units under the hood as they like dark places. Another idea is to keep the hood open. I thought maybe a solar light some how placed in the engine area. I was told the bags of herbs smell they don't like, you can buy don't work. This happened in May also, but only $500, so I have sticker shock now. I have got to find a solution as I am sure it will happen again if I don't. Thanks for any help.


Although I wrote this site with rats in mind, such as the Roof Rat and Norway Rat, the same principles apply to other rodents, such as the house mouse. Mice behave very similarly to rats, they're just smaller. Email me if you have any questions about mouse removal, how to remove mice, rodent removal, other queries.

If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at