Dear Car Talk,

I have a 2018 Toyota RAV4. Last weekend, I bought a 20-pound bag of birdseed for the feeders in my backyard. It was a cold, rainy, miserable day, and I decided to wait to bring it in the house.

A couple of days later, I opened the back door of the car and a hole had been chewed in the bag, and there were sunflower seed shells on the floor.

How on earth did the mice (I’m assuming) get into the car?

— Julie

They may have already been using your car as an extended-stay Marriott, Julie. They may have been as surprised as anyone that it suddenly turned into a bed and breakfast.

Mice are notorious for seeking out warm places to sleep (and perform other functions) and for being able to squeeze into very tight spaces. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had already discovered that your engine compartment or ventilation system provided a wonderful, dry place to sleep after you got home at night.

It’s not hard at all for them to get in there. They can climb up your tires and get into the engine compartment. From there, they can make their way to the cowl at the bottom of the windshield, where fresh air comes into the passenger compartment.

There’s a plastic grate in there, but mice are good at squeezing through small openings. Or chewing holes in things they can’t squeeze through. From the fresh air vent, it’s smooth sailing to the air ducts and to the interior of the car.

My guess is that some lucky mouse found the birdseed and posted a picture on Twitter. #Jackpot!

It’s a tough problem to solve. The best solution is a well-sealed garage. But I would suggest you clean out the remaining food to discourage them. You might also ask your mechanic to check the grating that protects the fresh air vent, in case they damaged it. See if he can find you a titanium replacement.

And look on the bright side, Julie. Your car may be a mess. But you’re responsible for one of the greatest bonanzas in mouse history. It’s the mouse equivalent of the first Thanksgiving. Two hundred years from now, mouse textbooks will teach young mice about “Julie’s RAV4 Miracle.”

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(c) 2020 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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