It’s odd, but to a wild animal (and even some domestics), the warmth of a car engine just minutes after you’ve parked it can be very inviting. Cats, rats, raccoons, and squirrels have been known to climb into engine compartments and set up a home in that tight, forbidding space.
To a small animal, it’s protection from other predators and a pretty smart fort to set up in. So our furry friends will climb up into your engine compartment and nap away, only to experience distress and horror when kind, unknowing you climbs in the car and drives with them still stuck in the engine the next morning. Engines run hot and are full of moving parts and belts, so it’s life-threatening for them and no laughing matter.
Here are some tips you can take to avoid an unexpected, accidental engine occupation by a critter:
- Keep the hood up at night. If you are parked somewhere that you feel is safe from miscreants who might tamper with your exposed engine, leaving the hood open at night will ensure that critters won’t try to nest in it, as it offers no protection from the cold after a few minutes. And if they should try, you can quickly see where they have if your engine is open and you have to close it properly to drive.
- Knock three times above the wheel mount. If a critter is in there, this is a warning that chaos is about to reign, and gives the animal time to run for its life.
- Let your engine run for a minute before your start. We already advise clients to do this, because it ensures that oil is getting to all parts of your engine, but it can give cats and rodents a moment to realize, Hey, this is getting a bit too hot, too noisy, and I think I want to run. If you get in your car and push it to 55 suddenly, you are hurting your engine and potentially surprising a sleeping stowaway who won’t get out once the car is in motion out of fear.
- Don’t keep food near your car. If you have pet food in the garage, it can attract animals. If you have fast food in your car that hasn’t been thrown away, throw it away. Food + warmth are the two strongest motivators of a wild critter in the wintertime.
Things you shouldn’t do:
- Do NOT start the engine and rev it up to scare the animal. It is more likely to scare the animal into thinking you are already moving and cause it to freeze up.
- Do NOT try to remove the critter. It could have rabies, and it is likely to try to climb deeper into the engine to avoid you.
- Do NOT use pepper on your engine block. We’ve seen good-hearted people suggest this, but let me remind you that you do not want pepper invading your engine’s intakes and clogging your car’s fuel system. And it can wear down in strength, and then actually ATTRACT some rodents to the engine.
- Do NOT call a mechanic to remove an animal. Animal Services will do this for you.
We hope you don’t have any issues this winter with animals entering your engine block and setting up a home. But if you do, we hope you’ll take steps to safely see them out of the space. If disaster strikes and an animal should have an unfortunate end in your machine, contact us about what steps to take next, Just click on this embedded link to schedule an appointment with an auto mechanic who will look over the damage for you. We’re located at 8608 North State Road 19, Etna Green, IN 46524, and it’s our pleasure to serve your needs.