rats wires
See those rat bites on the hose at left?

It’s not just humans and dogs who have had rough winters. Upper West Side rats have had it tough too.

We are now hearing reports of rats hiding away under the hoods of cars, passing their time by chewing through the wires and hoses. (We have not heard of any rats successfully hot-wiring a car and drag-racing down Broadway.)

Here’s the story we recently received (along with documenting photos) from a reader named Jen.

“In the past month, I have had two incidents where my engine had problems.  I brought my car to be serviced and was told both times that rats had gotten under my hood and had chewed the wiring.  This resulted in about $800 worth of repairs to my car.  I was told by the service center (located in midtown) that they have seen this several times before this winter, as the rodents are looking for warm places to stay.

I actually met a woman in the waiting room, also a west-sider (lives in the upper 60s), that said this has happened to her car three times in the past 2 years! ….and she parks in a garage!
I’m wracking my brain trying to think of solutions to prevent this from happening again. I do park on the street, but I move my car daily to drive to work. Additionally, I am careful not to park near trash or restaurants.  I’ve searched for solutions online to keep the rats away, but I have hit a wall.
I know that you’ve posted stories in the past related to rats on the UWS, and this problem has certainly not been rectified! I’ve lived in my apartment on west 80th street for the past 5 years, and for the first time EVER I actually caught 7+ mice last winter.  I am a clean, responsible resident and am outraged about this.  I actually see rodents scurrying about the streets in the evening and do believe this has gotten worse over the past 2 years.   I am ready to rally to get some attention!”
NEWS | 20 comments | permalink
    1. Steven Cohen says:

      Yes, this is definitely a growing problem. I have a friend who parks his taxi in the mid-90s, usually on Amsterdam or btwn Amsterdam and Broadway. He’s told me that he’s had lots of problems with rats, and he drives his car very frequently.

      I’ve seen rats running around much more in the past year than in the prior ten or so years, especially around Amsterdam. What can we do to solve this problem? Can our local politicians get the City to do something?

    2. Steve G says:

      This has happened to me in the past and I spent $1K to have my car rewired. The mechanic stated that the rats huddle on the top of the manifold for warmth. Once there, they emit a scent, so other rats are attracted to car in the future. Over time they chew on the wires. I had the engine steam cleaned and I installed the sharp metal bird spikes on top of the manifold and that has rectified the problem.

    3. Paul says:

      Put mothballs on the top of your engine. It keeps the rats away.

    4. Cato says:

      Yes, but do the rats get to use the gym?

    5. Frank says:

      This was a problem in the 60’s and the 70’s when new building construction on UWS was rampant and SRO’s were being torn down overnight.. We complained back then and nothing was done until it began to affect the Central Park and Riverside elite.
      Welcome to NYC! Our rats will kicks your rats’ a$$e$

      • andrew h\. says:

        west 108th and west 109th are notorious for rats. there was an article about this in the new yorker.the blocks between amst and broadway…

    6. Debbie says:

      I too had this problem a few years ago when there was construction on the 72nd Street Subway. I had over $1000 worth of damage to my car, plus at one point, I was unable to drive it. After it was towed, the mechanic reported that not only were my wires chewed, but that there was a dead rat on my drive belt!!! I later named my car “The Rat Mobile”. However, it is a terrible situation and I really don’t know what the solution is, short of placing some kind of mesh on the underside of the car. I don’t even know if that can be done, or if it would even help.

    7. jsw says:

      Rodents don’t like the scent of peppermint. Make your own sachet, or there’s a product called Mouse Magic by a reputable manufacturer, Bonide, which was recommended by a Westchester mechanic. It is 2% peppermint & spearmint, and 98% filler. One sachet covers a small area and must be replaced every 3-4 weeks.

    8. BILL says:

      if you wanna see rats,walk down 93rd st from amst to broadway about 6:30 in the am, double figure amount running all about

    9. jerry says:

      The bottom line is: they will willout. I remember, in the not too distant past, rats running rampant on the southbound 86th Street subway station, right in the middle of the downtown rush hour…and rats having their Mardi Gras on 87th Street between WEA and Riverside Drive. As of this moment, they are alive and well on 88th Street. I’ve parked my car on the streets for the last ten years and have to say I’ve suffered no rat munchies. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Looking down the road, when we’re all long gone, the rats will square off against the cockroaches in the Final Conflict – and the winner will get – market value rents!

    10. Kathi Goldman says:

      try putting moth balls in open containers in the engine compartment and trunk. Be sure to remove them before starting car. I’ve found moth balls to deter mice. I don’t know about rats but it will probably work with them too.

    11. Jen says:

      I wrote a letter to Mayor DeBlasio and to Helen Rosenthal about the UWS rat issue…but of course, I’ve haven’t received a response. Maybe reaching out to other media outlets can stir the pot a bit about this issue?…Westside Rag is a start!

    12. mio says:

      Yes well, its bikes and no rats or cars and rats.. Hum? And why would anyone need to have a polluting car who lives in NYC… I mean, I know the subway makes a fortune from riders every day…and yet there are filthy walls platforms and tracks but I’m told there are fewer rats there these days? So get with the program and become a true urbanite!

    13. robert says:

      A-The rats are a lot worse in the subways, and bus barns have been infested for years

      B-In ref to the UWS rat problem I guess you missed the local meetings were a couple of years ago when the hawks at the 79th boat basin were all folks talked about in reference to this issue. Our local elected’s and the regular group of “self appointed community leaders” wailed about the fact that the birds of prey were eating poisoned rats and then dying. Because of this pressure, the baiting for rats was scaled back by the parks dept. Surprise 2-3 years latter their population has exploded.

    14. Christina says:

      As the Stones put it so eloquently:
      “…You got rats on the west side
      Bed bugs uptown
      What a mess this town’s in tatters I’ve been shattered
      My brain’s been battered, splattered all over Manhattan
      Uh-huh, this town’s full of money grabbers
      Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots, huh
      Shadoobie, my brain’s been battered…”

      That hasn’t changed so much since the late 1970’s

    15. Jill Rogat says:

      Ugh, this is a disgusting and disturbing thought. I know they must get cold but I don’t need anything else to worry about each morning as I try to start my car and face the cold weather at ungodly hours of the morning. If they start noshing on my wires, I’ll become hostile!

    16. Joan Paylo says:

      10:30 a.m., 5/1/14, W. 92 in front of PS 84– Saw what I thought was a stray cat running from underneath car to car. Ahh, lost kitty, I thought. Finally, cat-sized rat emerged and ran for flower bed at 320 CPW. Really big rodent.

    17. suzie says:

      I have effectively used an ultrasound rat repellent.. check it out below