Martens in the car: what helps – and what doesn’t

In spring, martens are particularly fond of tampering with the car. This is not only annoying, but at worst also dangerous. Vehicle owners should therefore take care of defensive measures. But not all really help.

Martens at work: in their biting frenzy, the animals can cause considerable damage. Dpp auto reporter

Why do martens bite??

Stone martens appreciate the engine compartment as a feel-good oasis. It resembles a cave, often it is comfortably warm there. Such pleasant quarters are marked with scent marks in marten fashion. The furry animals become furiously defensive when they detect the odor of a fellow species in their automotive refuge. This stirs up aggression, especially during the mating season in spring and summer, which is discharged in biting attacks. Damage is particularly frequent to cars that are parked elsewhere in between, giving a foreign marten the opportunity to immortalize itself in the engine compartment.

What damage do martens do?

Martens cut their teeth into brake and coolant hoses, electrical cables and rubber seals, power lines and insulating mats. Hardly anything is safe from them. HUK-Coburg insurance alone reported 49 marten attacks last year.000 biting attacks on cars have been recorded, with repairs costing an average of 400 euros, or up to 2000 euros in extreme cases. All in all, car insurers have to pay out around 200.Settle 000 marten claims amounting to 72 million euros.

How dangerous are the biting attacks?

HUK coburg reports from its experience that marten damage often goes undetected at first because the small, sharp bites of the animals leave hardly any visible traces. Later, this may lead to the car no longer starting, losing fluid or weakening while driving. If the marten has mangled the coolant hose, the engine can overheat while driving.

It can be dangerous, for example, if bitten rubber sleeves cause damage to the drive and the axles, and the functioning of the steering is also impaired. Or if the marten has built a nest with the help of leaves, dry branches or old paper, which catches fire from the heat radiated by the running engine.

How to prevent?

At the latest when marten traces are visible on the car – paw prints, for example, which are often mistakenly attributed to cats, scratches, hairs or droppings – action is called for. As an immediate measure, an engine wash is recommended, it removes the scent marks of the marten and should be repeated regularly.

In addition, the trade offers all kinds of defense strategies: sprays may help, but their unpleasant odor can also penetrate the vehicle interior. Sturdy cable sheathing, on the other hand, protects vulnerable components from biting. Many manufacturers offer factory-fitted or retrofitted engine shielding, and such shielding devices are also available from parts dealers.

Ultrasonic devices emit sounds that cannot be perceived by the human ear but are perceived as unpleasant by the marten. Experts from arag-versicherung advise paying attention to a sound pressure level of at least 80 db, preferably 100 db. too weak devices could not penetrate the entire engine compartment and generate an habituation effect for the marten. Whether such ultrasound devices actually help is, however, controversial.

In many cases, high-voltage devices have proven to be the most effective method. similar to an electrified pasture fence, they give the marten harmless but deterrent electric shocks. Installation should be carried out by a specialist, otherwise there is a risk of damage to the on-board electronics and, in the worst case, even injury to people.

A simple but effective means can be to cover a wooden frame with paw-unfriendly wire mesh and place it under the car.

The safest place for your car is in a garage.

However, there is still no miracle cure that promises one hundred percent safety.

Dog as helper: it is rather doubtful that animal hair in the engine compartment deters martens. HUK coburg

And what does not help?

In an effort to keep biting martens away from the car, desperate car owners have tried all sorts of things: dog hair in the engine compartment, mothballs, toilet stones, even garlic. Such home remedies offer only short-term protection, if any at all. martens usually get used to them quickly.

Who pays for the damage?

Fully comprehensive insurance. In most cases, however, marten damage is already covered by partial casco insurance. However, many policies only cover direct damage, such as bitten hoses. The expensive consequential damage (to the engine, for example) is then not included in the scope of performance. It is advisable to check the insurance policy accordingly or to ask the vehicle insurer about it – and to make improvements if necessary.

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