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How to Get Rid of Ants in Car Vents? – Easy Natural Fixes!

How to Get Rid of Ants in Car Vents
Last Updated on Aug 16, 2023 By Lillian Kazmierczak

Ants live within a large colony and if you see one in your car, there will be others you can’t see.

If ants nest in your car, they can cause damage and injury to you.

Your car can suffer blocked vents and engine problems if ants are left untreated.

Learn how to get rid of ants in car vents!

Types of Ants Commonly Found in Cars

1. Red Imported Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire Ants

This is a fire ant species native to South American countries like Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

They are very aggressive, so get onto the problem as soon as you can if they are found to be in your car.

They have already infested the 11 southern states and will continue.

2. Pavement ants

Pavement ants

These ants usually make their home in pavement cracks but are often found inside the house.

They are native to Europe but were further introduced in the 18th century to North America.

With a pair of spines on their back and grooves on their thorax and head, they grow to be up to 4mm long and are dark brown to black.

3. Argentine ants

Argentine ants

These ants are common, ordinary-looking and always found in a trail but do not sting.

They are small brown ants no bigger than 3.2 mm long.

If you have these ants in your car, avoid crushing them as they let off a musty odor.

4. Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants

Pharaoh ants are brown/yellow in color with big black eyes and range from 1.5 to 2mm long.

They need warm places to nest and the interior of your car vent is the perfect place.

Why and How Ants Get In Cars

Spilled Food and Drinks

If you have ants inside your car vent, it is most likely because there is a food source close by.

Ants are attracted to just an empty chocolate wrapper as it will still smell sweet.

Empty soda cans are full of sugar, attracting ants even if the soda has spilled onto the floor.

Always keep your car clean of rubbish and food debris, and any spills need to clean properly asap.

Vacuum even the smallest crumbs and wipe all surfaces down often with an automotive surface cleaner.

Shelter and Warmth

Ants get cold and will search for a warm spot to nest.

Car vents are warm places, especially if you drive often and the car is always warm.

Always check these places for ants. Even if you see one or two, it will mean more are not far away.

They Got Transferred In

If you carry something that was sitting outside and place it into your car and it has ants on it, you might not notice.

Always make sure anything you put into your car is free of ants and other nasty bugs.

Can Ants Harm a Car Somehow?

Ants can create damage to your car.

The fire ant will get into the electrical part of the car and can cause things to short circuit.

Relays, wiring, and insulation are all attractive to ants to build a nest.

If these components need to be replaced, it can be very costly.

How to Get Rid Of Ants In Car Vents

a) Identify the ant species first

Before you try to fix the ant problem, you need to identify the type you are dealing with.

Different areas will have their local variation of ants but most ants will get into car vents searching for food or shelter.

The common ones that like to hide out in cars are the carpenter or the fire ants.

b) Remove sources of food and water

If you have any bits of food in your car, vacuum these out right away.

Even the smallest crumb of food can attract ants. If you have something sticky, these will also bring ants to the car.

Make sure you wipe everything over and remove all food sources.

c) Use temperature control to kill ants

Park your car in the sun. In summer months, the car can reach temperatures well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which can kill ants.

If you have ants in your heater vents, then you can either park your car in the hot sun for a few hours.

Or turn the heater on high for ten minutes. This will kill any ants in the venting system and the engine compartment.

d) Use essential oils to repel ants

Ants don’t like the same smells that humans do and they hate essential oils.

Just add a few drops to some cotton balls or felt and either hang or place them near the vents to keep ants out.

For ants control use:

  • Citrus
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosewood
  • Eucalyptus

Get Rid of Ants in Your Car Naturally

a) Draw chalk circles around your tires

We don’t know the exact reason but ants hate chalk. To prevent them from getting into your vehicle, draw chalk lines around the tires. This is very effective at deterring ants.

b) Using spices

Cinnamon works well to deterrents ants as they hate the smell. Just sprinkle some around the car to get rid of them.

Mint leaves are not as messy as cinnamon. Just tie a few bunches of leaves together and put them in your car to deter ants.

c) Vinegar

Ants cannot stand vinegar. Ants use pheromone trails to get other ants to follow. Vinegar can remove this trail and the ants with it.

Simply fill a bottle with half water, half white vinegar and spray around your car.

Commercial Ant Killers

a) Ant Bait

Ant Bait

Ant bait is easily affordable and effective in killing and deterring ants. Ant bait is safer than many other insecticides.

You just put a few drops onto a hidden spot in your car, and the ants will take it back to the nest, killing them all.

Ants are attracted to the formula, but it is toxic to them once they eat it. The ants take it back to share with the other ants, including the queen.

b) Aerosol insecticide

Aerosol insecticide

You can spray aerosols inside a car but the car needs to be kept shut for a few hours for it to suffocate the ants.

Then open the car windows and door to ventilate the car before anyone can go inside.

This method is not as successful as the ant bait.

c) Ant fogger

Ant fogger

This one is ideal for the car as it can get into the hidden places that ants like to hide.

An ant fogger will kill the ants inside the car plus kill the ones that enter the car within two months of use.

After use, run the a/c to clean the vents out and air out the car for a few hours.

Tips to Get Rid of Ants in a Car Air Conditioner

  • Don’t eat in the car if you have to take a portable vacuum to clean up afterward
  • Give your car a good spray with aerosol once a week
  • Avoid parking near ant colonies or packs
  • Avoid leaving things outside that you take in the car with you to avoid transferring them


1. Will ants survive in a hot car?

Ans. Many ants can survive high temperatures as they are highly adaptable. However, if they get exposed to too much heat, they will die. Turning on the engine and letting it run with the heater on can kill most of the ants on the car.

2. What scents do ants dislike?

Ans. Certain scents like cayenne pepper, chili pepper, cinnamon, mint, garlic, and cloves are great when used in areas you want to deter ants from.

3. Can I use a bug bomb in my car for ants?

Ans. Yes, if the infestation is serious then a bug bomb especially designed for cars will work.

4. Can You Spray Raid In Your Car?

Ans: Yes, you can use Raid to kill ants in your car. However, you have to take some safety measures after using it.

Raid is a strong and one of the most efficient insecticides. If you use it in your car, you may experience breathing problems, or a bad odor unless you air your car properly.

Air your car by opening the windows and doors of your car after using Raid to let fresh air come and reduce its effects.

5. Can Ants Nest In Your Car?

Ans: Yes, if your car is stationary for a long time or your car invades ant’s habitat, they can nest in your car. The humidity and temperature in the car are suitable for ants to breed and grow than in the outside environment.

Typical nesting places in a car are engine bays, air vents, or car seats.

6. Can you spray bug spray in vents?

Ans: No, it is not recommended to use bug sprays in car vents as proper ventilation is required for pesticides to be distributed effectively.

7. What is the best ant repellent?

Ans: There is no perfect ant repellent as there are different types of ants and not all repellents work on all of them.

You can use Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, clove oil, or eucalyptus oil as an ant repellent.

About the author

Lillian Kazmierczak

As far as I can remember, I would say I have been a car nut for my whole life. My father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. This gave me the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and get my hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

A great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity, my deep passion lies in older models that I believe have a flair that takes me back to my childhood! I also love their extraordinary durability and reliability when compared to today’s modern models.

When not out taking a ride, I enjoy socializing with fellow motorheads online and consuming any car facts and figures I can get my mind on!

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