Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Rodents Eating Automotive Wiring

We previously discussed how the implementation of bio-plastics in the automotive industry contributed to new claims that rodents have developed a penchant for wiring insulation. While rats gnawing on wires of cars isn’t a novel problem, some believe that the new materials used have exacerbated the issue.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against various manufacturers on the grounds that the soy-based compounds used in modern-day wiring is irresistible to rodents. One of the more recent legal bouts involves Toyota. Brian Kabateck, a Los Angeles attorney involved in a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Sales, filed on behalf of an Indiana resident after their Toyota Tundra become a meal for rodents three times. The total damage was estimated at roughly $1,500, which Kabateck said Toyota refused to cover.

The case, which involves multiple plaintiffs all represented by Kabateck, has been dismissed without leave to amend — meaning it cannot be refiled. Is this an unfair victory for Toyota and hoards of hungry rats, or are these wiring claims lacking the substantive elements required to be taken seriously?

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Rodents May Have Flavor Fetish For the Wiring Insulation in Newer Vehicles

Shortly after the dawn of new millennium, automakers started implementing bio-plastics made from corn starch, genetically engineered bacteria, or vegetable fats and oils. The rationale for this was that sustainably sourced materials were better for the environment and lowered dependency on petrochemicals. Unsurprisingly, bio-plastics gained in popularity at roughly the same time as ethanol.

Since at least 2010, soy-based bio-plastics have been a popular alternative for wiring insulation in automobiles. But there’s a problem — rodents love how it tastes. This has allegedly resulted in a surprisingly high number of owners reporting that rats chewed through the wiring inside their automobile.

While the problem isn’t entirely new, the frequency of the incidents appears to have been spurred by automakers using more palatable materials. In fact, the issue has grown so bad in recent years, numerous lawsuits have cropped up demanding manufacturers pay for damages. Honda was named in a suit from two years ago involving 2012 to 2015 model year vehicles, and Toyota was hit with one for cars produced between 2012 to 2016.

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Piston Slap: of Lemons and VW GTIs

Paul writes:

Good Morning Sajeev,

Today is my 2010 GTI’s 15th day in the shop (shocking, right?). Earlier this month it was in for 13 days, I had it back for 6, and I dropped it back off two days ago. The issue is somewhat strange, but in my mind, easily fixable. I have been getting CEL 2294 and when I run my own VCDS scans, I have been getting the following logs (edited down).

  • 004501 – Fuel Pressure Regulator Valve (N276)
  • P1195 – 000 – Open or Short to Ground – Intermittent
  • 008852 – Fuel Pressure Regulator Valve (N276)
  • P2294 – 000 – Open Circuit – Intermittent
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Piston Slap: Modesty, Korean Purgatory and The E60

Rodrigo writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I’m being offered a 2005 BMW 545i with 78,000 miles on the clock. Well-equipped with the sport package and manual transmission, it’s being offered at $18,000 (negotiable) by a co-worker’s family member who “wants to get rid of it quick so he can replace it with a new truck.” I’m told it’s been babied, but I’ll definitely be asking for service records and a chance to have it inspected by a German car indy mechanic that’s 3 blocks from my apartment.

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Piston Slap: When Does the Mystique Wear Off?

TTAC Commentator SupremeBrougham writes:

Hey Sajeev, out of the blue a man calls me up and makes me an offer to take my Chevy HHR off my hands. I made a counter-offer and the deal was done. Hooray, no more car payments, I’ll just keep and drive the Mystique!

But, as luck would have it, the Mystique decided that it didn’t want to run anymore, so I had to have it towed to my local independent shop, and it’s been sitting there for a while. It turns out that the main wiring harness under the hood has disintegrated and needs to be replaced. He has tried calling a number of junkyards and he said they all laughed at him, and said they all cut the harnesses when removing the engines on junk cars, so none are available. At the dealer, they quoted him a price of ~$800 for a new one! He told me that he is going to try and see if he can salvage enough wiring under the hood to try and reconnect the ends together so that the car will run again. Also, I’ve tried looking online for this part but I haven’t had any luck.

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  • Jeff S The Cybertruck is one of the most hyped vehicles in decades.
  • Nrd515 This is all I could think of seeing this. I saw it in the theater with my dad about 59 years or so ago:https://www.popcorncinemashow.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Mr-Sardonicus-1961-01.jpg
  • Art Vandelay I have no illusions tha my Challenger was going to be a car I wanted to own 10 seconds out of warranty. Fun, sure. Fun in 8 years? Hard pass based on the 2 years I had it
  • ToolGuy Weren't some of the most powerful engines in the M4 Sherman air-cooled? (And supercharged.)
  • ToolGuy "I installed oil temp and cylinder head temp gauges on various vehicles I was driving, so I could monitor how the engine was doing. I switched from my normal 20W50 and dropped to 15W40 oil and put down thousands of miles. Within that time, I saw a noticeable decrease in oil temps and even cylinder head temps while driving in different situations."ToolGuy has great admiration for your use of the scientific method in conducting original research.