How to protect your car from wire-gnawing squirrels

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

No matter where you live, if there are squirrels in the area, there's a chance one of them could find its way under your hood and start snacking on your car's wires. These furry little vandals may cause car damage that can lead to unexpected repair costs.

Why are squirrels attracted to cars? suggests that a car engine's warmth provides a cozy nesting spot for rodents, especially in the winter. And, squirrels often chew on things to help control the constant growth of their teeth, which may make wires a target. Whatever the reason squirrels wreak havoc under the hood, here are a few tips that can help you keep these toothy troublemakers out of your car.

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Squirrel-proof your garage

If you park your car in your garage, you're not completely out of the woods. Squirrels can get into your garage or home through a hole as small as 2 inches, according to You may want to consider sealing your garage by plugging even the tiniest holes with stainless steel mesh, sheet metal or aluminum flashing, adds

Leave a bad taste in their mouths

To help keep squirrels away from your ride, the Canadian Wildlife Federation suggests using taste deterrents, like bitter apple spray. Most pet stores and veterinary clinics carry bitter apple spray, as well as other taste deterrents for wildlife. Use caution and talk to a mechanic before spraying anything directly on your vehicle, though, to help avoid any damage.

Roll out the un-welcome mat

If you suspect a squirrel is already nesting under the hood of your car, the Toronto Wildlife Centre suggests leaving the hood of your car open for a day or two (if it's safe to do so). This may help make your car a less attractive nesting space and the squirrel may vacate on its own.

As cute and innocent as squirrels may appear to be, they can cause unexpected damage. Taking a few simple steps can help you protect your car from these mischievous rodents.

Stay alert

Avoid talking on or looking at your phone while walking through a parking lot, recommends Consumer Reports. You may also want to consider ditching the headphones so you can hear what's going on around you, like vehicles or pedestrians approaching. And remember, if you happen to notice any suspicious activity while in a parking lot, you should report it to your local authorities.

Secure your vehicle

Lastly, it's a good idea to remove valuables from your vehicle, especially if they're visible through a window, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you can't remove valuables, it's a good idea to hide any items and bags from plain sight at a minimum, adds Consumer Reports. You should also close your vehicle's windows, lock the doors and keep your car keys with you at all times.

By practicing these tips, you can help keep yourself and your vehicle safe in a parking lot, and may lower your chances of being involved in a vehicle-related incident.