Rats! Toyota’s Tasty Wires Attract Too Much Rodent Love
In California, thousands of Toyota owners filed a class-action lawsuit against the Japanese car brand, alleging that the wiring in their cars attracted rodents and other animals that then chew through the material, causing hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damages.
According to the lawsuit, a soy-based insulation used by Toyota in many of the vehicles it manufactured from 2012 to 2016 proves an irresistible bait for rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels. Once chewed through, wiring and electrical troubles commence because the workmanship can no longer achieve its intended function.
Toyota responded by saying the soy-based insulated wiring in their vehicles does not amount to a defect in material or workmanship, and so they deny the owners coverage under Toyota’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty. With Toyota’s refusal to cover the cost of repairs, consumers have to pay out of pocket, and herein lies the gist of the legal dispute.
Typically, when you see a lawsuit over faulty product, it’s often because of reasons like manufacturing defect, lack of testing, or some other shortcoming that only becomes obvious with time. Unfortunately, this Toyota lawsuit is none of these, and it’s hard to predict that such a thing would even happen.
The complainant’s side
The lawyers behind the lawsuit say that the soy-based insulated wiring should fall under the manufacturer’s Vehicle Limited Warranty program. They reason that the exclusion affects the complainants’ right to reimbursement or coverage, as wells the value of the purchased or leased Toyota vehicle with soy-based insulated wiring.
“Toyota is refusing to repair these cars under warranty, and these are also expensive repairs,” Benjamin Johns, lead attorney on the lawsuit, said in an interview. “There are real damages here, and we’re trying to get, at a minimum, these kinds of repairs covered by the warranty.”
Toyota did not comment on the pending lawsuit. However, an official spokesperson released a statement, arguing that rodent damage to wiring occurs across the industry, and the problem is not specific to any brand or model.
Fellow Japanese carmaker Honda is facing a similar lawsuit, and have been more vocal with their response.
“The fact 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,” a Honda spokesperson said.
Soy-based wires may be good for the environment, but with mounting complaints, perhaps it’s time for the car giant to rethink the manufacturing process for their car wiring. That said, these wires are an industry standard nowadays, so regardless if you own a Toyota, a Honda, or some other car brand built from 2012 onward, you may want to spray your wiring with rodent repellent to protect them from chewing.