Toyota cabin air filter dirty due to squirrels.

Toyota cabin air filter, air flow problems

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Things got a bit squirrely at Steve’s Auto Repair this week.

One of our customers brought their Toyota by, because they were hearing a rattling noise. There also wasn’t a lot of air coming through the vents.

Nuts that squirrels put in a Toyota's air cleaner box.

Nuts that squirrels put in a Toyota’s air cleaner box.

Our Woodbridge mechanics looked into the problem and came across an unexpected sight – the air cleaner box was filled with nuts.

Squirrel nests that were built in the cabin air filter box of a Toyota.

Squirrel nests that were built in the cabin air filter box of a Toyota.

Nests had been built in the cabin air filter box, as well. Some squirrels, apparently, decided to make the vehicle their second home. 

How often to change cabin air filter

The fix was a relatively simple – yet time consuming – one. The technician changed the Toyota cabin air filter, a component that purifies air going into the cabin area and blocks out dirt, dust, pollen, and bacteria. Depending on the vehicle and driving conditions, a new cabin air filter should be installed every 10,000 or 20,000 miles. 

As part of our courtesy inspection, we check the cabin air filter. When replacing them, our technicians also spray BG Frigi Fresh, a disinfectant, into the vent system.

To address the problem the Toyota was experiencing, we also called in some backup – the shop vacuum – to remove any nuts that had collected deeper in the car.

How to tell if there are rodents in your vehicle 

Animals setting up shop in a vehicle isn’t an uncommon occurrence, especially during the colder months. Automobiles offer several perks for mice, rodents and other creatures. Not only do they provide protection from predators, they are also warm and some parts even give off attractive smells.

The air conditioning air distribution box, the air box, and the engine are a few areas mice like to burrow into. Their presence, however, can’t go unnoticed for very long. 

Eventually, you may notice signs that you have mice living in your vehicle, such as mouse droppings, upholstery damage, and insulation that has been chewed up. Your car – like the Toyota we mentioned earlier – may also experience some problems. This could be the result of mice chewing wires, or animals building nests or making your mode of transportation their personal pantry.

How do you keep critters out of your car?

You may be wondering how to keep rodents out of car. There are methods you can try. Being watchful for insulation damage and nests is one step.

We also suggest tucking dryer sheets – a smell that mice hate – into the engine compartment, and regularly cleaning out old food, snacks and drinks, which can draw rodents in.

Placing mouse traps around any vehicles that are parked in a garage is another strategy. However, it’s important that you remember to set them aside when you go to move the cars.

You should avoid feeding animals – especially near your car – as well. We had a customer who would feed the squirrels. They decided to chew the wiring on her vehicle, and she needed to have it towed in. The customer continued feeding the squirrel near it, and the same problem happened two more times. Eventually, we had to convince her to stop.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.