If your car is not starting this winter, be careful before you check under the hood. Rats, mice, chipmunks and squirrels could be hiding in there.

People aren't the only ones trying to stay warm. Many of these four-legged furry creatures are trying to seek refuge from the snow, wind and cold and that could mean snuggling up near auto engines.

AAA Midatlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble said rodents can cause a lot of damage to wiring harnesses looking for food.

In order to be more environmentally friendly, auto manufacturers have started using soy-based wire coverings. The downside is that small creatures like to feast on these wirings, causing expensive engine damage.

Noble said while this happens more frequently in the winter because animals are looking for shelter, it also happens in cars that are not used regularly.

While some people advocate using moth balls or pepper spray under the hood, the fumes from are not healthy and safe for both animals and humans.

Alternatives include cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil or placing mouse traps or safe traps under the hood. Non-toxic, plant-based rodent repellents are also available and copper screening (not plastic or other metals) can be used to seal off air intake openings because rodents don't like the taste.