The owner of a Toyota Avalon that was extensively damaged by rodents attracted to the soy-based insulation on the vehicle’s wiring has filed a lawsuit against the Japanese automaker, alleging her car and thousands of others like it are at risk of mechanical problems and car failure because the wiring is effectively a food source for rodents.
Heidi Browder filed her lawsuit against Toyota in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in 2015, alleging that Toyota switched from plastic-based wire insulation to soy-based insulation for environmental reasons.
But what is good for the environment and rodents of all sorts can be a nightmare for Toyota drivers.
According to CarComplaints.com, Ms. Browder alleges she popped the hood of her Avalon when it wouldn’t start and noticed the engine wires had been chewed up. She had the car towed to a Toyota dealer, which told her rodents ate her wires. The dealer offered to repair the vehicle at a cost of $6,000 to her.
She alleges that Toyota’s warranty wouldn’t cover the damage because it came from an external source. A technician that inspected her vehicle told her that wiring chewed by mice, rats, squirrels, and other critters is common in Toyota vehicles.
Fortunately for Ms. Browder, whose lawsuit seeks certification as a class action, her insurance company paid for the repairs, but she still had to cover the $500 deductible.
There is also no guarantee that the same thing won’t happen again as long as Toyota uses the soy wiring. Indeed, some Toyota drivers who have taken to the Internet to air their grievances about Toyota’s wiring write of repeat damage.
“Rodents have discovered the soy compound used to insulate the wires. My daughter has had to replace wiring twice in the last month. The damage to the wiring results in engine and transmission issues including stalling,” writes a 2012 Camry owner in Maryland.
Other owners have complained of rodents, attracted by all the soy-based wire insulation, making nests in the engine, thereby creating even more problems by short circuiting and damaging electronics and other vehicle components, including car seat cushioning.