Rodent-attracting soy-based wiring in automobiles is a growing problem, and House Speaker Paul Ryan says his Chevrolet Suburban is among the vehicles that have been damaged by hungry rodent scavengers.
“My car was eaten by animals,” Ryan told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington, according to The Washington Times.
Ryan said that his Suburban has been parked at his mother’s house in Wisconsin ever since he became House Speaker in 2015 and was assigned a security detail. He hasn’t driven since then.
According to Ryan, his mother went to Florida for the winter and when she returned she found that the Suburban wouldn’t start. He took the vehicle to a mechanic who discovered that animals had been eating the soy-based wiring.
Ryan says the damage was done by a family of woodchucks. He didn’t provide additional details about the damage done to his vehicle but said that he would be renewing his license and buying a Ford F-150 pickup truck when he leaves office.
The problem of rodents and other animals causing expensive damage to vehicles emerged when several major automakers began using soy-based wiring in vehicles – wires with a coating of soy-based plastic.
Automakers have said the switch to soy-based wiring was environmentally motivated because they are biodegradable.
However, according to the author of the book Let’s Get Them RATS! The Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Car from Rats and Mice, there’s another factor behind the switch to greener soy-based wiring:
“Starting in the early 2000’s, car manufacturers began using bioplastics (e.g. soy-based wiring) in cars. They state their reasoning was in an effort to reduce dependency on petroleum and to ‘go-green.’ In reality, bioplastics are cheaper to produce,” says the author of the book, who goes by the name Rat King Dave.
“It is very common nowadays for newer cars to have wiring that is coated in soy based bioplastics,” Rat King Dave says on his website. “This has led to a surge of issues with wildlife, particularly rodents, being attracted to these wires for consumption. Now, not only are rodents attracted to the cars for shelter, but also for food.”
The Detroit Free Press notes that a California federal judge last month granted a motion from Toyota to dismiss a lawsuit filed in 2016 that sought to force the automaker to cover, under warranty, rodent damage to soy-based wiring.
A lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case said the decision will be appealed.
“Speaker Paul Ryan is not the only consumer whose car was rendered inoperable because of rodent damage, which is why we have officially appealed the case to the 9th Circuit,” the lawyer said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “In our lawsuit against Toyota involving soy wires, the judge’s decision to dismiss the case forces consumers to foot the bill for a defectively designed product that can be fixed by the manufacturer.”