Rats keep warm, eat well and ruin lots of car engines

James Raia

Rats find shelter and feast the wiring in car engines.

Several years ago, a service mechanic at a local Honda dealership in Sacramento looked across the service garage and said: “See all those Hondas up on the racks? They’re all just like your wife’s CR-V. Rats have eaten the engine wires.”

I’d taken my wife’s then five-year-old Honda CR-V to the dealership across town for a yet-undiagnosed problem.

Rats find shelter and feast the wiring in car engines.
Rats find shelter and feast on the wiring in car engines.

Turns out, rats like to keep warm and feast on engine wires, hoses and nearly anything else, particularly if it’s made with Polypropylene.

If you live near a river or a tree-lined area (like Sacramento), the problem is often prevalent. Rats aren’t against eating the wiring other manufacturers’ vehicles, but Honda’s lineup has Polypropylene in some engine parts and it’s a rodents’ delicacy.

Rats also invade car engines for warmth and they leave their droppings. Gnawed wired and rat poop can destroy the wiring in the engine compartment, and it can result in faulty parts or cause fires.

In a recent article by Karin Brulliard in the Washington Post the rats-in-cars issue has resulted in “a half-dozen class-action lawsuits filed against auto manufacturers on claims that today’s eco-friendlier wiring is irresistible to rodents.”

The American Automobile Association notes modern cars offer a “smorgasbord of treats” for rats.

According to the report in the Washington Post, rats caused a sedan in New York to catch fire. The article stated cars in Florida have been “mutilated” by rats.

The Washington Post detailed the story of San Diego, California, resident David Albin, otherwise known as “Rat King Dave.”

Rats several damaged his Honda Civic, resulting in $2,500 in repairs. Albin’s wife has $9,300 in damage to her Hyundai Sonata, compliments of rats. Albin began the website HowToPreventRatsFromEatingCarWires.com and wrote an e-book “Let’s Get Them Rats!.”

Comprehensive auto insurance typically covers such damage after deductibles are met.

But Albin and others believe there are several methods to deter rats from invading car engines.

The RatMat, an electrified tile system placed under a car, is among several other contraptions for sale on Amazon.com that utilize “ultrasonic” waves and LED flashlights.

Peppermint oils, supposedly offensive to rats, abound as a cure. Honda offers “rodent tape” treated with hot pepper extract to wrap around wires for protection.

And there are plenty of testimonials for success with other products — used cat litter to laundry dryer sheets. And there’s also “Rataway.” It’s a spray recommended for use on engine wiring.

Article Last Updated: February 19, 2020.

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