2023 was declared the 'Unofficial Year of the
Rodent' by the RAC due to a significant increase in animal-related car
breakdowns. The conventional notion of a car breakdown leading to a hefty
repair bill is challenged by new data from the RAC, revealing that it's not
always major engine failures or head gasket issues causing financial strain.
Surprisingly, small creatures like mice, rats, and foxes have emerged as
unexpected culprits, leading to substantial problems for vehicle owners.
The Data has Been Studied
Upon reviewing thousands of breakdown reports
dating back to 2016, the RAC observed a noteworthy surge in breakdowns caused
by rodents in 2023. The number of incidents rose by 55%, from 196 in the first
11 months of 2018 to a record 303 during the same period in 2023. This increase
in breakdowns caused by rodents exhibits a seasonal pattern, with a 66% rise
from summer to autumn over the last five years, underscoring the severity of
the issue during specific times of the year.
Rats are the Biggest Culprit
Rats, in particular, accounted for a significant
portion of animal damage incidents, causing 51% of the total cases. Their
voracious appetite led them to gnaw on fuel hoses, infest engine bays, and
damage headlights. Foxes were also reported causing troubles by chewing on
speed sensor wiring, windscreen wiper blades, and brake hoses underneath cars.
Drivers Can Mitigate the Chances of Being a Victim
Leaving food inside or near unattended vehicles
attracts rodents, with open bags of pet feed stored in garages serves as a lure
for mice and rats. These rodents damage essential components because they are
attracted to the peanut and soy-based oils and waxes found in vehicle piping.
Vehicles left unattended for extended periods may
become homes for rodents seeking warmth and security. RAC patrols shared
unusual experiences, from finding squirrels storing nuts in air boxes to
retrieving a baby pet python residing behind a wheel trim.
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson advises
checking vehicles if left unused for a week or more to mitigate the risk of
animal damage risk. Recommendations include ensuring no food is left inside,
storing foodstuff in airtight containers, and being attentive to unusual smells
or persistent dashboard warning lights. Even starting the car could help deter
uninvited visitors, so even if you do not need to go somewhere or are too
unwell to leave the house, getting the car started is a good idea. A neighbour
or relative could help if you are laid up for any period if you make them aware
of the situation.
Contact Your Insurance Company if Damage Occurs
In case of suspected vehicle damage, contacting a
reputable mobile mechanic or using the RAC's Approved Garage Network for
quality repairs is recommended. While car insurance covers animal damage, it's
advisable to assess the extent of the damage before making a claim.