Of Mice And Cars

How can something so tiny be so nasty?

I’ve declared war against Mus musculus. It’s been a struggle to contain my annoyance and frustration. How could the sanctity of my vehicle become compromised?

It started when I went to unplug my block heater and noticed a small pile of debris on my engine. Puzzled to its origin at first, seconds later I knew the cause of the mess.

Disgusted, I scattered the refuse that had become refuge for a rodent. Hidden away from the cold elements, snug in my garage, my Jeep had turned into the Grand Cherokee Hilton for a vile vole.

It was then that my morning ritual would be brushing away this nest, only to find it rebuilt the following day. It turned into a battle of the stubborn. I had to find a plan to stop this menace mouse once and for all.

Besides leaves and lint, I found everything from a grocery receipt, a newspaper clipping and a paper surgical mask I wore as a hospital visitor. The contents of my spilled pocket were being carried up to form the base of the critter condo. Frayed bits of my automotive cleaning rags were dragged from the corner of the garage to their new home on my engine.

“Sprinkle peppermint oil ” and “ bait a trap with peanut butter” were just a few tidbits of advice friends offered. If I absentmindedly drove off without checking under the hood, I was sure to be reminded with an unique odor permeating my vehicle.

Leaving my SUV outdoors made start up strenuous and yes, a nest was still there. Nothing seemed to worked.

I was at the edge of my patience. It had gone too far when I even considered some far fetched remedies. Gently rubbing my neighbor’s cat along the Jeep would only anger PETA and feline lovers out there. I was desperate for an answer.

Time to go to the source not the problem. My mistake was making my garage hospitable to these little creatures. The bags of grass seed stored in the corner were the five star restaurant for mice to find. The piles of Autumn leaves and debris the perfect material for pest home construction. It was time to Spring clean.

Some good sweeping and a couple of garbage bags later and the garage was less inviting to creatures. Some airtight containers for seed and the no vacancy sign was out for the mice. So far it has worked. Whether it hard work or the warmer weather that told those beasties to bolt, I don’t know.

I’ve been a lucky landlord in my eviction proceedings. Others I’ve heard haven’t been so lucky. Wiring chewed and interiors destroyed, rodents have been the victors when up against garaged vehicles.

There are no tell-tale signs of vermin now. I’m relieved. My manifold’s destiny is to remain mouse free, for good.

Hey – Time To Spring Clean!

While we always make an effort to spring clean our house and cars many times we forget the garage. Many items there pose more of a danger then a bag of grass seed.

Take a good look at your shelves and chances are you find some product that can be fatal to children and pets. Ethylene glycol antifreeze can kill. As little as one teaspoon can kill a small cat as they, along with dogs, find the taste and smell appealing. Check under your vehicle for any chemical leaks and make sure lids on shelved products are tight and spill proof.

Insecticides, herbicides and car cleaning products are rarely kept protected from little hands. Those same hands can grasp poorly protected garden tools. We don’t let our children play with blades inside the house – why should we make them available outside of our home?

Electrical wires and cords should be in good shape and an automatic garage door reversing mechanism if something or someone slips under the door.

Gasoline poses another threat. At different temperatures and humidity levels gasoline fumes can ignite easily. Any gasoline stored in the garage should be in approved containers. Other lubricants, paints and household products can be just as flammable. The rags we use to clean up our mess fall into that category.

My garage posed hidden hazards. Not only did I find engine oil that must have been bought when my fathers’ old Pontiac was new, it was keeping 2 jars of unknown muck company.

To make sure my problem would not become yours, I made sure to secure all the chemicals for specialized removal. The City of Toronto has services just for this kind of disposal problem. A Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) depot is a safe way to rid us of harmful substances, Save our environment: Don’t pour chemicals down the drain.

If you’re unable to go to HHW depot and have more than 10 litres of household hazardous waste – the Toxics Taxi is available for collection, call the HHW Hotline at 416-392-4330 (Monday – Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm).

Four of the City’s six HHW depot sites are also HHW reuse depots. Toronto residents can either drop off or pick up the following items for reuse:
• paints
• cleaning products
• wood stains
• solvents and lubricants
The program is free and distributes items in good condition. When dropping off items for reuse, check that:
• all containers are sealed properly;
• items are still in their original containers; and
• that the manufacturers labels on containers can be read easily.

For more information about the reuse depots, call the hotline at 416-392-4330.

American and International friends: Check your phone book for your local depot



Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.