If you car sits for long periods outside, check for unwanted guests. A car makes a perfect winter home… for a squirrel!

If you car sits for long periods outside, check for unwanted guests. A car makes a perfect winter home… for a squirrel!



Do animals really set up homes inside of cars that aren’t driven often?

Roger lives here in Beaverton and this month we will discuss his rodent problem.

Roger had a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee that sat out on the street. It had not been driven for several months and Roger decided it was time to sell. Not wanting to have to deal with strangers coming to his home, he contacted me to do the selling for him. Wise choice!

When I went over to pick up the vehicle, I noticed a squirrel sitting on the front tire. This should have been my first warning sign. When the car would not start, the link between the two started to become clearer: an outdoor car becoming a home for rodents.

After popping the hood, I expected to find that squirrel from earlier but instead found a happy brown rat sitting comfortably in the engine compartment out of the rain and wind.

At first, we thought the rat was not going to leave but after a little coaxing, we scared him away. With the engine compartment looking okay after a quick visual check, we attempted to start the Jeep using jumper cables. We should have looked closer because all the gauges and lights on the dash went crazy! Needless to say, we turned it off right away and went back to take a closer look under the hood. There was dog food packed into the air cleaner housing, rodent droppings and a strong urine smell on flat surfaces. Luckily the rodents had not entered the passenger compartment!

After cleaning out all the dog food, debris and power washing under the hood, I could finally do a thorough inspection. What I found was severe problems with the wiring: I found at least 24 damaged wires and maybe 7-8 wires that had been completely chewed in two. Unfortunately, before selling the Jeep, it became necessary to replace the entire electrical wiring harness in the engine. Once this was done however, it was good to go and we sold it within two days!

Roger no longer parks any of his vehicles outside but if forreason it’s unavoidable for you, here are some tips:

Cover the car – While it’s best park in a garage, if you must store the car outdoors, cover it with a weatherproof car cover. This will protect it from the elements and keep it at a relatively stable temperature.

Change the oil – if you will be storing the vehicle for longer than 30 days, Ford recommends this step in its owner’s manuals.

Clean the car – dirt, grime, bird dropping etc, can damage a paint if left to sit for long periods of time. Giving the car a good wash and maybe a wax before you leave it to sit will pay off when its time to drive it again.

Fill up the gas tank – This will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the gas tank and keep the seals from drying out.

Charge the battery – The car’s battery will loose its charge over time so if you can get someone to drive it every couple weeks, that would be best. If not, then unplugging the battery is better than having the battery go dead.

Don’t use the parking break – If break pads contact the rotors for too long, there is a chance they could fuse together.

Prevent tire damage – If not using the car for long periods, consider removing the tires and placing the car on jack stands to prevent tires from developing flat spots.

This rodent problem is becoming more and more common, so it would be wise to take a look under your hood regularly to inspect for intruders. Thank you all for reading. I hope this information has been useful.


In the event any of our loyal readers are in need of a new, or pre-owned vehicle of any kind, please allow us to be of assistance. Also, if you have a vehicle that is not in use, and do not want to hassle with selling it yourself, please allow us the opportunity to purchase the vehicle from you, or sell it in consignment. We do provide pick up, as well as delivery service.

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to reach out to me: fergusonautobrokers@gmail.com or visit fergusonautobrokers.com