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LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you know anyone who has had their car wiring harness or fuel line chewed by rodents?

Asked by LuckyGuy (38302points) July 17th, 2018

My neighbor is a live-and-let-live kind of guy. He uses HavAHart traps when he needs to catch mice in his house. That kind of guy.

He has 2 vehicles: 2014 and 2015 Mazdas. About a month, ago I helped him repair his electrical harness that had been chewed through disabling one spark plug. After resoldering and fixing the car he thanked me and laughed off the rodent issue.
Yesterday, his other car died while his wife was driving and had to be towed to the dealer. He was just quoted $2100 to fix the harness above the fuel tank! It had been chewed through by rodents.
After 2013, many new vehicle harnesses are made of “eco-friendly” soy-based sheathing that rodents enjoy chewing. This appears to be more of a problem in rural areas and includes cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and other makers.
I’ve been looking around and see that there have been class action suits over this issue.
One judge recently denied the suit saying the evidence was anecdotal and there is no scientific data to substantiate the claims.
What data can individuals provide that show this is an issue?

Do you know anyone who has had this problem? What did they do?

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18 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve seen on a auto maintenance blog where it had happened to a Honda, think it cost $6000 parts and labor.
If you have comprehensive auto insurance you may be able to claim the damage, comprehensive is usually for glass and windshield been cracked or broken, vandalism or landslides.

Demosthenes's avatar

I had the window-washing fluid line chewed by rats. It cost me $150 to fix it. There was evidence of rat feces and urine in the engine (created a delightful odor when I ran the heater), but they didn’t seem to have damaged anything other than the fluid line. I put out rat poison soon after that and haven’t had a problem since (and I live in a suburban area).

2davidc8's avatar

Yes, it’s happened to an acquaintance of mine.
And I once saw what by then looked like a clump of dirt on top of the engine of my car. My mechanic said that was rodent droppings.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Can any of you estimate the year of the affected cars? I’d like to know if they were 2013 or newer.
I am considering taking up the challenge and getting real data that can be used for the next lawsuit.

zenvelo's avatar

Happened to me.

September of 2016, I was at Sunnyside at Lake Tahoe CA with my 2008 BMW X3. After getting in late the night before, came out the next morning and couldn’t start the car. Thought it might be the battery, but warning lights came on the dash, and lights worked.

Had to get the car towed to the BMW dealer in Reno. Took the dealership about two hours to figure out the wiring harness had been chewed on. The pictures they took were impressive. Most likely cause by marmots.

Back in the seventies when I backpacked a lot and would park the car in the woods for days, we would put mothballs under the hood to keep squirrels and chipmunks and rodents from going under the hood.

2davidc8's avatar

@LuckyGuy Hers was pre-2013. Rats will chew on stuff even if not “bio-friendly”.

JLeslie's avatar

I heard that the wires are now sometimes made with “natural plastic” and attracts critters. I think it’s soy based. My husband know more about it. I might be thinking about golf cart wiring rather than cars. Anyway, something to google.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Now I know why cats like to sleep up in there.

Zaku's avatar

I know someone who got a rat colony in their car, but I don’t know what they chewed or didn’t chew.

JLeslie's avatar

I just confirmed with my husband that what he heard was the wiring harnesses are being eaten by animals in cars, because they are plant based.

seawulf575's avatar

The neighbors have a camper in their back yard. They have had mice/rats chew through the wiring a number of times

ScienceChick's avatar

Oh, I initially thought you were talking about Paul Ryan’s claims that his car was eaten by woodchucks. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/13/politics/paul-ryan-woodchucks-car-trnd/index.html

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ScienceChick That is so funny!
So, using scientific method, how would you prove the issue is material related and customers should be entitled to some for of compensation?
I fear there will be a rash of customers facing $2000 bills because Chip and Dale were partying with Micky and Minnie.

ScienceChick's avatar

There is little reasoning with insurance companies. You are either covered or you are not. Here is an interesting article on the subject. https://www.thebalance.com/is-rat-damage-covered-by-car-insurance-4147146

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ScienceChick Great article! I will forward it to my neighbor. Thanks!

RocketGuy's avatar

A long time ago, at work we had squirrels that liked to chew on battery cables. After several cars failed to start at the end of the day, we had Security call Animal Control to trap the squirrels. Seems it is an acquired taste. The squirrels that moved in later did not eat battery cables.

Zaku's avatar

@ScienceChick Or, you’re covered but they declare you car a total loss and offer you diddly-squat to replace it.

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