Rodents, whether it be mice, rats, or squirrels, can be be a major problem if they make a nest in your car. They like to make them under your hood because it’s warmer up inside there than in a tree, and more secluded at that.
The customer that owned this Jeep Liberty was pretty shocked when we showed her what was going on under her hood. She’d brought this in for an oil change.
Walnuts. That’s what gave it away as a squirrel being the culprit. The customer stated that she’d had the Liberty parked at their cabin for a couple weeks and had no idea that this nest was there.
As funny as it may look, this could’ve actually gone pretty bad. Rodents like to chew things, and when they start chewing on wires inside your engine bay, systems fail. Lights don’t work, gauges do weird things, and even a fire could start from this. Engines get very hot, and that nest is basically kindling. Add an electrical short to the mix and you’ve got potential for a fire, which means a bad day.
I’ve been doing some research on how to keep squirrels away from/out of my garbage cans at home (they keep chewing holes in it) and it turns out there’s a lot of things you can try to keep them away. I’ve read that they dislike ammonia, so you could spray some of that around your engine bay, but it’s toxic to breathe so you’ll want to just spray a border around the engine, not directly on it.
Check your oil level at each fuel fill, if for no other reason than to see if you’ve got a nest starting in your engine bay. Another thing you can do if the car will be sitting for some time, is take a small plastic container (sour cream, cottage cheese, Tupperware, etc.) and fill it with moth balls or moth crystals and set it on top of your engine, and then place a bunch of cheap drier sheets all around the engine bay. I do this when I store my car for the winter and I’ve never had a problem. I’ve been told that Irish Spring bar soap can be used in place of the moth balls/moth crystals.