The Vehicle Element at NACSW Nosework trials is open to a wide interpretation of what a “vehicle” is. And, that’s one of the things that makes this element both fun and challenging.
At the most basic level, vehicles are cars and trucks and SUVs and the like.
But, I’ve been at trials (and training sessions) where we’ve searched, in addition to the “normal” types of vehicles, big rigs, vans, campers, emergency vehicles, and even a tank. Yes, a tank.
The vehicles are sometimes in rows or placed at angles and the goal is to find all the hides in the given time.
There are no “always” places where a vehicle hide will be, but they do frequently show up in hitches, licence plates, in wheel wells, and in the wheels.
At NW2 and higher, the hides seem to go “deeper,” and are sometimes inaccessible (in the brake pads, for example).
At the higher levels, the channels between the doors and at the foot of doors are common places for source to be hidden.
Just like the other elements, temperature and wind have a big effect on the vehicle searches.
One training idea to consider is that vehicles, no matter the size, are really a basic box. Or, a square of boxes. The goal is to make sure you hit all the corners (bumpers) and I find, if I have time, I like to include as part of my plan to search each vehicle in both directions (around to the right, around to the left).
And, it’s good to be conscious of the wind and the resulting scent cones.
A final bit of awareness, because the vehicle is up off the ground, odor will travel under the cars and through the wheel wells and tires. Again, that’s what makes them fun and challenging to search.
The best way to prepare is to practice all types of vehicles in all types of weather.