We sometimes see some unusual vehicle damage but we were intrigued when we saw this posted in a local forum on Facebook about animal damage to cars:

I was very concerned to find my brake pipes had been severed twice in 3 months! It seemed so unlikely and I have gated off street parking which makes access very difficult, but on inspection the pipes looked gnawed rather than cut. Having looked on the Internet it seems foxes and to a lesser extent squirrels can develop a liking for brake fluid! This is too dangerous to ignore so off to buy anti fox/squirrel equipment and sprays!

On further investigation, there seems to have been a spate of similar fox-related incidents in the South East. 

How to spot the damage

If you find bits of debris under your car on your weekly checks then you might have been visited by a fox.  This can be confirmed by a trip to your local garage if they find teeth marks on the severed brake pipes.

animal damageWhy are foxes doing this?

There are a number of theories surrounding this.  Firstly, foxes love chewing things and if they are cosying up under your car on a cold winter’s night, what is nicer than having a good old chew on a piece of rubber or plastic.  This penchant for gnawing is a learned habit from vixens who often bring back leather gloves or wellington boots to the den for the cubs to chew on.

Secondly, glycol (a chemical found in brake fluid) has a slightly sweet taste and foxes may have developed a taste for it.  In the Black Forest in Germany, pine martens have been sipping on it for a while now!

Consequences

If your brake cables are chewed by a fox then this will cause the fluid to drain away and your brakes to fail.  If you only discover that your brakes aren’t working whilst driving then you will need to stop safely and arrange to be towed to a garage as soon as possible.  Smartdriving.co.uk have some good advice on what to do if your brakes fail: change into second gear, bring the clutch up slowly and use the hand brake to stop.

How to deter foxes

There are several solutions to this problem including:

  • Wrapping chicken wire around your car
  • Spraying Jeyes fluid on the underside
  • Wrapping the underside of your car in thick tarpaulin (for exact instructions take a look at the Fox Repellent Expert website)
  • Park in a garage but this can also cause problems…

Garages

Beware if you keep your car in a garage.  Rats LOVE warm car engines and once inside can start gnawing on cables and other car parts.  We’ve also seen rats and other rodent damage to seating and sound proofing.

Fox damage is rare but we hope this article will help you know what to do if you are a victim.  Stay safe on the roads.

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