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In the shop with Mr. A
Words and photos by RON ALEXANDER Associate Professor, Automotive Technology, Morrisville State College
Wait … is that mouse eating my car?
ow does the story go? Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a…. wait is that mouse eating my car??? Yes, as we enjoy our winter hibernation, your pride and joy project car, motorcycle, RV, boat or whatever is stored in the back reaches of the storage locker is being converted into a multi-family party house for “chippy” the squirrel and his growing family of wire nibblers. It is a battle that all of us in the snowy Northeast have been dealing with for years. Along with rust eating our projects, the next most frustrating thing is to discover in one winter’s storage your interior has been devastated by hungry vermin. The thought of what could be happening to the new wiring harness, leather seats, vinyl top, or anything found tasty inside the dark corners of your vehicle can make your skin crawl. Proper storage techniques can minimize this, but the only real cure is to push the entertainment center to the side, blowopen the front wall of the house for a 9’ overhead door, and pull that rig into the living room. If your spouse really loves you, I mean really loves you, it’s a go.
The fuzzy nuisance is just looking for a warm dark place to survive, close to a food source is also a goal for the little family. By thinking like a mouse you can make your project less hospitable to the winter vacationer. First things first; clean the car! Any leftover smells from the summer picnic basket could attract a starving family. A good shampoo and clean out can make all the difference. Just the smell of an old french fry under the seat can be all it takes to draw in the new family. Also, the vapors for the cleaning solution or carpet soap can turn off the appetite and cause them to find other digs. The time-tested use of mothballs or dryer sheets can do the same thing, giving off a strong pungent odor that seems to repel the little guys. My preference is dryer sheets because they do not repel me in the spring. But mothballs seem to have
the best effect when strategically placed around the base of the vehicle or the path used by the vermin. Placing a few in an old sock and hanging it near the bottom of the vehicle is not a bad technique. Remove all materials from the storage area such as cloth towels, packing quilts, soft clothes, and loose foam; anything that can be pulled into a car as bedding. Never store in the garage household garbage, dog food, or other items that will smell like food. Lighting is also a key, they want dark warm places to hide. Keep a light on, keep the hood open. I had one person tell me to put an LED light under your car making it as bright as you can. I had another tell me to jack up the car and place disposable tin pie plates between the frame and the jack stand to remove the path that the mouse can use to get to your car. Plug holes, in the building and the
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