Cicadas and Your Car: What You Need to Know During This Summer's Road Trips

Hear that buzzing? Is the buzzing…all you can hear? Well, we can relate!

As summer approaches, many of us are planning exciting road trips. However, this year brings a unique challenge: an unusually high number of cicadas. These noisy insects are more than just a nuisance you may find hard to look at—they can actually affect your vehicle. In this blog, we'll explore how cicadas can impact your car and what you can do to protect your vehicle during your summer adventures.

Why Are There So Many Cicadas This Year?

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their loud mating calls and periodic mass emergences. This year, certain regions, including ours, are experiencing a significant cicada brood. These insects live underground for most of their lives and emerge in large numbers every 13 to 17 years to mate. While their presence is a natural phenomenon, it can cause some unexpected issues for car owners.

Cicadas and Your Vehicle

Cicadas can find their way into various parts of your car, particularly the engine bay. Once inside, they can clog radiators, interfere with air filters, and even cause damage to your vehicle's electrical systems. The heat and motion of your engine can attract these insects, leading to a potential infestation.

When cicadas enter the radiator, their bodies can block the airflow necessary for cooling the engine. This blockage can cause the engine to overheat, especially during long drives or in hot weather conditions. Overheating can lead to serious engine damage and potentially leave you stranded on the side of the road, turning your pleasant summer road trip into a stressful experience.

Additionally, cicadas can interfere with your car’s air intake system. By blocking the air filters, they reduce the engine’s efficiency and performance. This not only affects your car’s fuel economy but can also increase wear and tear on the engine components. In extreme cases, cicadas can cause air filter clogging severe enough to lead to engine stalling or misfires, compromising your vehicle’s reliability.

Moreover, the electrical wiring in your vehicle is another vulnerable area. Cicadas, though not typically inclined to chew on wires, can still cause issues if they get trapped and die within the wiring harnesses or connections. The accumulation of cicada bodies can lead to short circuits or corrosion over time, resulting in electrical faults. These faults can manifest as anything from malfunctioning lights and sensors to more serious issues with the car's starting system or onboard electronics.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your vehicle from cicadas. By taking proactive steps, you can minimize the risk of cicada-related problems and ensure your car remains in top condition throughout the summer. Here are some essential tips to keep these pesky insects at bay:

  • Check and Clean the Radiator and Air Filters: Before hitting the road, make sure your radiator and air filters are free from debris. Cicadas can easily get trapped in these areas, reducing their efficiency.

  • Use Car Covers: If you park your car outside for extended periods, consider using a car cover to prevent cicadas from entering.

  • Regular Inspections: Make it a habit to regularly inspect under the hood for any signs of cicadas. Early detection can help you address the issue before it becomes serious.

  • Seal Entry Points: Ensure that all possible entry points, such as vents and gaps around the hood, are properly sealed. This can prevent cicadas from finding their way into your engine bay and other crucial areas of your vehicle.

Is it necessary to check for cicadas? No, not really. They’re most interested in tree bark and aimlessly bumping into things. However, if there is an issue with cicadas landing in your vehicle or around it, you’ll know it (shells on driveway, buzzing from car, etc.) and this is likely more of an issue for those of us who live out in the woods. 

To check for cicadas, make sure to turn off your engine and wait for it to cool down before attempting to remove any insects.Use a brush or gloves to gently remove cicadas from the engine bay. Be careful not to damage any components. If you're unsure about the extent of the infestation or suspect damage, it's best to consult a professional mechanic. They can thoroughly inspect your vehicle and ensure everything is in proper working order.

Maintaining Fuel Efficiency in Summer

While cicadas are a seasonal concern, maintaining your vehicle's fuel efficiency is a year-round priority. Here are some tips to keep your car running efficiently during summer road trips:

  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance tasks such as oil changes and tire pressure checks.

  • Smooth Driving: Avoid aggressive driving and excessive idling, which can reduce fuel efficiency.

  • Air Conditioning: Use your air conditioning wisely. While it's essential for comfort, excessive use can increase fuel consumption.

Cicadas may be an unavoidable part of summer this year, but with a little preparation, you can ensure they don't interfere with your road trips. By taking preventive measures and addressing any infestations promptly, you'll keep your car in top shape. 

Give Us A Visit For Vehicle Issues–Cicada Caused and Otherwise

For a thorough check-up and professional advice, visit The Auto Shop in Jefferson City. Our expert team is here to help you enjoy a smooth and worry-free summer on the road. At The Auto Shop, we're committed to keeping you and your vehicle safe on the road. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment or to learn more about how we can help you address your vehicle's dashboard warning lights. Don't wait until it's too late—trust the experts at The Auto Shop to keep your vehicle in top condition.