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5 min read

The Mysterious Case of Interior Odors

Published on
April 10, 2024
rodent nest in auto interior cabin air filter
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Here in Tucson, Arizona, it's no surprise that we have pack rats running rampant around town. It gets even worse that they find homes in our cars. That’s why Cool Auto Detail is here. No one wants a rat’s nest in their car engine. Luckily, we can take care of that for you.

Why pack rats’ nest in car engines? Pack rats typically like car engines as they are a safe place to nest away from the heat and or the cold of winter months. It’s most common for pack rats to nest in cars that are parked outside and not in use. Of course, they also nest in cars that are being used too. Engines provide them with a safe place away from predators and other natural elements they otherwise would be subjected to. Our best advice to prevent pack rats from nesting in cars would be to park your vehicle inside and turn on your engine occasionally, to prevent it.

pack rats nesting inside an auto interior

There are signs that pack rats have found shelter in your car. Firstly, the smell of dead animals is an obvious one because pack rats often die in the nest. Another sign would be deterioration of the underneath of your hood. The fabric underneath the hood makes a great material for their nests, so they often seek it out. Thirdly, rat droppings can be found all around your engine and even underneath your car if they have fallen. Lastly, paw prints can be on your vehicle’s engine from them scavenging for parts for their nests. There are signs to look out for, but if the signs are missed your best option is to bring your vehicle to Cool Auto.

There is one more sign that is very important for you to watch out for, and that is pack rats chewing on the wires in your engine. This is a common problem and can lead to a hefty mechanic bill depending on the damage caused.

The process for removing pack rats from your engine is simple, but tedious. We first start off by removing any dead or alive pack rats. Once that has been taken care of, we begin taking out large pieces of the nest and debris carefully. After that has happened, we steam the top of your engine, and we put it on our ramp to steam the underside of the engine. After steaming we clean with a disinfectant because it is crucial to remove the smell of the animal’s urine and feces. If the smell isn’t removed, the animal will often come back and restart its nest. Not only that but pack rats carry the Hantavirus, plus many other diseases, so it is important to get every bit of the pack rat, droppings, remains, etc. out of the engine area, for the safety of your health and others.

After cleaning the engine, we will also check other common areas that pack rats like to hang out, like your wheel wells. Yep, that’s right, pack rats will sometimes even go inside the plastic wheel well covers and create nests inside there. We will also look at your cabin air filter if a mechanic hasn’t already done so. A lot of times pack rats will get into your cabin air filter and can cause damage to that, or they will urinate on the filter, which is not something you want to be breathing. In which case a new cabin air filter can be put inside the vehicle as well.

There are some occasions where pack rats can sometimes make their way into the vehicle. In which case, you’re going to want to get a full interior cleaning, along with the same sanitization process we did with your engine. This will help take care of any urine or feces the rat(s) may have left behind inside your vehicle and sanitize it to get rid of any viruses they may have been carrying around.  

Pack rat infestation is an obvious inconvenience, however, detailing here in Tucson is your solution. Cool Auto has been providing this service to the public for 31 years, and we are the best in the game. Remember to park your cars inside, so that you can prevent nesting in your car. If you do happen to be inconvenienced with a pack rat infestation, taking the necessary steps to fix the issue is very important in order to ensure that they do not come back, and to insure your health. Just remember, if it happens, Cool Auto’s team is here to help in every automotive way we can.