As the UK is in partial lock down and schools are only open for key workers’ children there will be a lot of vehicles not being used for the daily school runs, school trips, sporting fixtures and all the other activities that a normal and fully functioning curriculum includes. Vehicles not being used regularly, particularly those kept outside, particularly in rural areas, are susceptible to not only to the weather but rodent damage; gnawed wires, ripped out insulation or caches of nuts and trash in cars, minibuses and engines. These can cause significant financial loss, never mind the frustration of not having a fully functioning vehicle when you finally need one again.

Even new vehicles are not immune. Rats can easily eat through the protective polythene layers and damage parts of the main wiring including ABS brake cables in search of a place to nest. Squirrels have been known to cause damage by chewing but also by filling air filters with nuts and acorns, leading to power loss, and a fox reportedly chewed on one vehicle’s flexible brake pipes.

The last thing on your mind when you break for a long holiday or have a forced closure as with the Covid-19 situation is pest control or pest prevention. But prevention will be better than cure and there are a few things you can do to deter the pests and check all is well before using the vehicles again.

If you have rodent problems on your grounds and outbuildings don’t forget that they will also consider your static vehicles a suitable place to shelter and nest and when they start to breed, numbers will quickly increase.

Deterring rodents from your vehicles

There are dozens of techniques used to deter rodents from vehicles and they work best when used in combination. Some ideas for you to consider depending on your situation and where your vehicles are parked are:

  1. Do not let the vehicles sit unused. It might be obvious but driving the vehicle regularly will discourage rats.
  2. Leave the hood up.Rats, mice and squirrels are looking for a dark place to nest. It’ not an ideal solution but might deter rodents if your minibus is parked in a garage or lock up.
  3. Clean up and secure all foodstuffs.Rats and mice will be attracted by food stuff so ensure that your minibus is clean and clear from its last outing and if storing it in a garage make sure there are no foodstuffs nearby that they will be able to steal and then stash in your minibus.
  4. Remove hiding places. Rats especially use the same routes and hiding places over and over. Cut back any bushes near your vehicles that could provide cover and cut off any obvious rat-runs.
  5. Block any rodent-sized entrances Block any holdes/entrances to your garage and place traps around the vehicle or on top of the wheels, since rats climb wheels to get into the engine you could try blocking engine openings with wire screen.
  6. Use commercial deterrent devices.Strobe lights like Mouse Blocker or Rid-a-Rat may work for longer periods, as they disrupt the darkness that rats prefer. There are also sprays that claim to deter rats.
  7. Set traps. You don’t have use the old-fashioned snap traps, although they are still available. There are humane cage trap options may work but relocating those you catch is only a temporary fix. There is also the option of rat poison, but you do run the risk of poisoning domestic animals such as cats and dogs, so caution is recommended.

Keep completing vehicle checks despite the mileage

It’s natural to think that if you’re not using your minibus you don’t need to keep up the frequency of your usual checks. However, we recommend that you continue with all your usual checks to identify any issues such as rodent damage early on.

  • Daily checks – before you drive the vehicle anywhere complete a quick daily (12 point) check like the one on the free STRIDA app.
  • Weekly checks – a thorough weekly 40-point check (again found on the free STRIDA app) that includes under the bonnet inspections will help identify any early signs of rodents, rust or unexpected damage.
  • 10-week safety inspections. Under a Section 19 Permit minibuses need to have 10-week safety inspections regardless of mileage. These inspections need to be made by qualified engineers and can be completed on site.

If you take steps to deter rodents and are completing frequent minibus checks, despite a dramatic fall in mileage, you will be evidencing not just a consistent and robust safety system but that steps are being taken to guard your minibuses against further damage whilst they’re off the roads.

For more information on STRIDA the free app for school minibus checks, 10-week inspections or minibuses in general please call us on 01869 253744 or email enquiries@castleminibus.co.uk