How to Get Rid of Rats in Car Engine & Keep Rodents Out

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Any unattended vehicle is fair game for a pest infestation. Once rats are in a vehicle, they are difficult to get out! What do you do if rats have made their home in your engine?

Why Do Rats Get into Cars?

Rats are on the lookout for a source of shelter and food. Cars provide both! Rats are usually attracted to vehicles that are quiet and unused. There are nesting materials readily available with the upholstery.

Often, there will be food debris in the car that will attract the rats as well. In addition, rats will chew wires, carpet, plastic, and upholstery.

What Kind of Damage Can Rats Do to Cars?

Wire Damage

The plastic insulator coating on the wires under the hood seem to be especially tasty to rats. These chewed up wires cause short circuits which can incapacitate the car and be costly to repair. Bite marks are one of the first signs of rodent activity in your vehicle.


Rats have a nesting instinct. They will shred anything to form a nest. This includes wires, upholstery, seats, and carpet. If you suspect you may have rats in your vehicle, look for large, loose, messy nests.

Rodent Waste

Rodent waste is smelly, messy, and damaging to your vehicle. What’s more, it can carry the deadly hantavirus. If you suspect rats have been in your vehicle, wear a respirator mask while inside your vehicle. Hantavirus is transmitted through inhalation of dust from rat feces.

How Do I Get Rid of Rats in My Car Engine?


Rat traps (like this one) should be placed throughout the vehicle. Put them in front of the seats, under the seats, in the trunk, or in any other areas where you suspect rodent activity. Bait the traps with peanut butter, seeds, or raisins. Remove the traps before driving the car.

Ultrasonic Pest Repellent

An ultrasonic animal repeller can be placed anywhere in the vehicle. This one is specifically designed to fit under the hood of a car. It attaches directly to the vehicle’s battery with wires and can be mounted near the engine compartment (near the place where you add engine oil).

The motion activated device emits ultrasounds and has flashing lights that will frighten away any rodents. These sound waves cannot be heard by humans, but they cause confusion and convulsions in rats. The sounds will not bother dogs or cats, but may cause issues for other pets, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, or rabbits.

Peppermint Oil

Rats dislike the scent of peppermint oil. Place a few drops of undiluted peppermint oil onto cotton pads or cotton balls. Scatter the cotton pads throughout the interior of the car, and under the hood. Replace the scent pads as the oil evaporates.

You can also make a peppermint spray. Place 10 drops of oil in water in a spray bottle. Shake well to combine the oil and water. Lightly mist the interior of the vehicle. Reapply the peppermint spray as soon as the smell dissipates. As an added bonus, your car will smell minty fresh!

How Do I Keep Rats Away from My Car?

Once you have cleared your vehicle of rodents, you want to keep it that way! Here are a few simple ways to keep the rats away from your car.

Drive the Vehicle Regularly

Rats will be much less likely to inhabit a vehicle that is used frequently. Even if you don’t have anywhere to go, take your vehicle out for a drive every couple of days.

Clean It Out

Rats will be attracted to any food items in the vehicle. Clean out all food debris, and give the interior a thorough vacuuming.

Debris and trash is the perfect fodder for rat nests. Immediately remove all trash or clothing items from the vehicle.

Keep Windows Shut

Do not store the vehicle with the windows or sunroof open. Make it difficult for the rats to get in!

Store It Indoors

If at all possible, store the vehicle indoors in a garage. You could even place traps around and under the vehicle during storage.

If storing your vehicle indoors is not an option, make sure to store it away from long grass, brush, or bushes. Rats like to hide. If your car is out in the open, it will be a much less appealing home for rodents.

Cedar Shavings

Rats also dislike the strong scent of cedar. Place cedar shavings, or these rings in and around the exterior of your vehicle to repel rodents.

Final Thoughts

If you are unfortunate enough to have rats in your vehicle, be prepared to shell out some money for repairs. Rats can be very destructive in a short time. Get rid of the rats, then keep them out with these simple rodent-repelling tips. Hopefully, your ride will remain pest-free!

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