As if van and truck operators didn’t have enough headaches to contend with at present, it now appears that damage to vehicles caused by rats and foxes needs to be added to the list.
The RAC has flagged up this problem, saying it has seen record numbers of mice, rats and foxes causing serious damage to vehicles during the past year.
Having reviewed thousands of breakdown reports dating back to 2016, it found that breakdowns caused by rodents had risen by 55%. Patrol reports show rats had the biggest appetite for parts and caused half (51%) of all animal damage incidents by gnawing fuel hoses, infesting engine bays and damaging headlights. Patrols also reported numerous cases of foxes chewing speed sensor wiring, windscreen wiper blades and brake hoses.
Food left inside or in the vicinity of an unattended vehicle is a sure-fire way to attract unwanted visitors, says the RAC. One patrolman once found a squirrel using an air filter as its pantry. He said:
The vehicle had lost power and had an odd smell. When I lifted the bonnet and revved the engine the air filter moved like it was being sucked towards the engine. It turned out a squirrel had been taking nuts from a bird feeder and storing them in the air box, restricting air flow to the car.
RAC spokeswoman Alice Simpson said:
Incidents like this are more common than people might expect, particularly over the winter months when animals look to take shelter from the cold conditions. To reduce the risk of animal damage, check your vehicle if it hasn’t been driven for a while. The best advice is to make sure no food is left inside. Also check for unusual smells in the vehicle and be mindful of any dashboard warning lights that don’t disappear after a minute or two.