AAA technicians say they typically see this type of destruction more frequently as the weather gets colder, especially if a car is not regularly driven. But the damage could happen at any time of the year.
If you have to park a seldom-used car outside, be sure to start and drive it from time to time. This can chase away mice that might be hibernating under your hood, and 30 minutes or so of operation will circulate the vehicle lubricants and help keep the battery charged.
While some people advocate using moth balls or pepper spray under the hood, fumes from these products are unhealthy for humans as well. Alternatives include cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, or more conventional measures such as mouse traps, poisons and ultrasonic repellent devices. A number of non-toxic, plant-based rodent repellents are also available, and copper screening (not plastic or other metals) can be used to seal off air intake openings because rats don’t like its taste.