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Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312

AAA Mid-Atlantic: Searching for Food and Shelter, Rodents May Find Both inside Your Car

Jan. 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day but no one appreciates the expensive damage rodents can do to your vehicle

PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 18, 2018) — Sunday, January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day, an unofficial holiday started by a wildlife rehabilitator to acknowledge the role that squirrels play in nature and the environment. However, when extreme cold temperatures arrive, rodents like mice, rats, and squirrels take shelter wherever they can, even in your car, doing damage to your vehicle - which no one appreciates.   


AAA automotive technicians say rodents will take up residence under the hood of a vehicle to get out of the cold, snow and wind – it’s warm, dark, dry and full of nooks perfect for a nesting space.  Rodents can damage your vehicle by chewing through power steering lines, filling engine intakes with acorns, and plugging up air-conditioning ducts with their nests. And because some car parts are made from renewable resources, such as soy-based wire coverings or body insulation made of natural products, the car could become a smorgasbord of treats for rodents, whose snacking can result in costly damage for car owners.


AAA technicians say they typically see this type of destruction more frequently when weather is colder, especially if a car is not regularly driven, which could be the case of motorists having not ventured out in several days due to the extremely cold temperatures.


Click here for video of AAA Dover Car Care Center technician Adam Roth's demonstration of rodents' favorite engine parts.


“Gnawed wires cause all sorts of electrical problems, including engine no-starts. Unfortunately, the cost to make these repairs can be hundreds of dollars and is not always covered under the owner’s new car warranty or car insurance,” says Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Rodent damage is not something a car owner would think of needing protection from, however, it’s something to be aware of.” 


AAA technicians advise:

  • If you have to park a seldom-used car in a driveway or on the street, be sure to start and drive it from time to time.  This can chase away mice that might be hibernating under your hood, and 30 minutes or so of operation will circulate the vehicle lubricants and help keep the battery charged.

  • While some people advocate using moth balls or pepper spray under the hood, fumes from these products are unhealthy for humans as well. Alternatives include cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, or more conventional measures such as mouse traps, poisons and ultrasonic repellant devices.

  • A number of non-toxic, plant-based rodent repellants are also available, and copper screening (not plastic or other metals) can be used to seal off air intake openings because rats don’t like its taste.


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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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