A class-action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of thousands of Toyota owners who say rodents are eating car wires coated with soy-based materials, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
"Toyota incorporates soy- or bio-based ingredients in the wiring ... that bait rodents – including rats, squirrels and other animals," the lawsuit says. Honda is facing a similar suit.
In an effort to reduce waste, some car manufacturers wrap wires in a soy-based material.
Rupert Welch of Falls Church, Virginia, was surprised to learn what caused his car trouble three times over the course of a few weeks. Rodents had a feast at his expense, causing $10,000 in damage.
“I took the car back, but the next day all the lights went on, and the car wouldn't start, and I had to call a tow truck,” Welch said.
Some car owners want the auto manufacturers foot the bill for the repairs.
“I think it was well intentioned when they went to soy-based insulation, but I think they have to rethink their strategy here,” Welch said.
The lawsuit filed against Toyota includes vehicles manufactured between 2012 and 2016. Honda's lawsuit includes vehicles produced between 2012 and 2015.
“Toyota is refusing to repair these cars under warranty, and these are also expensive repairs,” said Benjamin Johns, the attorney representing the class action. “There are real damages here, and we’re trying to get, at a minimum, these kinds of repairs covered by the warranty.”
Honda would not comment on the pending litigation, but a spokesperson said, “The facts that rodents are drawn to chew on wiring in homes, cars or anywhere else significantly predates the introduction of soy-based wiring by several decades."
Toyota also said it can’t comment on the pending lawsuit but did say "rodent damage to vehicle wiring occurs across the industry and the issue is not brand- or model-specific.”
Welch said his mechanic wrapped tape around his wires as a deterrent. He also read peppermint spray works and the rodents seem to be keeping their distance.
The average cost of repairing chewed wires is $1,200. Most insurance companies pay for it, but the car owner is stuck with the deductible.