rodent damage goes to curt....

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by StarCaller, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. StarCaller

    StarCaller Senior Member

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    (it's supposed to say 'court')



    I wonder how that will end....?

    13 Investigates: Lawsuit says Toyota vehicles attract rodents, causing costly repairs - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

    PUBLISHED: 09/07/16 11:00 PM EDT.
    UPDATED: 09/07/16 11:00 PM EDT.
    INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A new class action lawsuit claims millions of Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs are defective because they contain materials that are very attractive to rodents, resulting in costly repairs for their owners.

    The lawsuit has been filed in California, but the lead plaintiff is a Hoosier who has been battling rodent damage under his 2012 Toyota Tundra for several years.

    “I had no knowledge when I bought this vehicle what was done,” Albert Heber told WTHR outside his home in Delphi, Ind. “I feel the manufacturer bears responsibility for changing materials…and it has been a big disappointment and very expensive.”

    Heber’s problems started in fall 2013, when his new pickup truck had less than 4,000 miles. That’s when the vehicle’s “check engine” warning light first appeared. It has remained lit ever since.

    “It’s on all the time. It never goes off,” Heber said.


    [​IMG]
    Al Huber says rodents keep chewing through wires under his truck. He blames Toyota for using insulation that attracts animals.


    A mechanic at a Toyota dealership in Lafayette discovered what had triggered the warning light: rodent damage under the vehicle.

    “It was a vapor hose in the back that was chewed almost completely in half. I was taken totally by surprise,” Heber told 13 Investigates, climbing under his Tundra to show the damage.

    Catching the culprit

    Over the next three years, the damage – and the emergence of new warning lights – would only get worse.

    The anti-lock brake warning light was next. Then the low fuel light started glowing – even when the gas tank was full.

    A 4-wheel drive warning light starting blinking non-stop after that.

    And Heber noticed his cruise control was no longer working.

    During a routine drive to the grocery store, the vehicle’s dashboard is now lit up like a Christmas tree.



    [​IMG]
    Five warning symbols light up the dashboard. The truck owner says they’re caused by rodent damage.


    Another inspection at the dealership showed more signs of rodent damage, including damaged wiring harnesses and a front brake sensor wire that had been chewed to pieces. Heber thinks he might have caught the culprit red-handed.

    “I was right here looking out my [porch] window. I saw a squirrel on its hind legs between the two rear tires, crawling up into the bottom of my truck,” he said.

    Who’s responsible?

    Repairing all the damage will cost about $2,200, according to estimates provided to Heber. Even though the Tundra still has fewer than 14,000 miles, Toyota will not cover the cost of repairs.



    [​IMG]
    Al Huber says it will cost him about $2200 to repair all the rodent damage to his Toyota.


    “The dealer declined warranty coverage and said it was my problem,” explained Heber, shaking his head. “I think they should cover it.”

    At first, the loyal Toyota customer figured his was simply unlucky. Living in a home that is nearly surrounded by corn fields in rural Indiana, Heber understands squirrels and mice come with the neighborhood.

    But then he discovered he isn't alone.

    Online research revealed other Toyota owners across the country have been complaining their vehicles have been damaged by rodents, too. Heber also found attorney Brian Kabateck, who says the automaker is as much to blame as the rodents.

    “This is a situation where they created the problem. They actually put it there and created it,” said Kabateck, who now represents Heber -- and potentially millions of other Toyota owners nationwide.

    “Ritz Carlton for rats”

    In August, Kabateck filed a lawsuit against Toyota in United States District Court in California. The suit, which requests class-action status on behalf of millions of Toyota owners nationwide, claims the automaker recently switched the materials used to protect wiring inside the electrical systems of its vehicles. Instead of using a plastic or glass-based insulation derived from petroleum, the lawsuit claims several automakers, including Toyota, now use soy-based insulation that is promoted as more environmentally-friendly. While that soy-based product may be better for the environment, Kabateck says it is also better – and more delicious – for rodents, who are attracted to it as a food source.

    “It would literally be like putting honey in your car or peanut butter in your car and then acting surprised that insects and ants and bees are being attracted to it,” the attorney said. “You're effectively putting something there that the rats want, in an environment that the rats want. It's almost like you're creating a Ritz Carlton for the rats.”



    [​IMG]
    Al Heber says he’s spent three years dealing with rodent damage under his Toyota Tundra.


    But is the automaker really to blame? After all, reports of rodent damage under the hoods of cars date back decades – long before manufacturers reportedly transitioned to new materials. Kabateck believes the recent complaints from car owners suggest the problem is not merely routine.

    “[Rodent damage] is going to happen and, more often than not, that’s not the manufacturer’s fault. It’s not their problem. It’s just a known issue that could happen to a car, just like a tree falling on a car or a car being parked someplace and a flood comes along and carries it away,” he said. “But because this problem is known to exist – it’s known people will have rodents chew away at their wires -- you don’t make the wires out of something that’s edible, that then becomes, frankly, a trap for these rats.”

    The attorney admits he is not sure exactly how widespread the problem is, but he filed the case as a class-action complaint after seeing “a lot” of complaints.

    “This is a real issue,” he said.

    Not just Toyotas

    Many mechanics agree.

    “We've seen ground squirrels. We see mice. We see rats. We see a lot more of that than we used to 40 years ago,” said Mark Buche, owner of B&M Auto Electrical Specialists in Lafayette, Ind. “Everybody tells me they're using soy products in the wiring insulation. It must be very attractive to them… They don't just eat the insulation, they chew right into the wiring.”



    [​IMG]
    Mechanic Mark Buche says he sees one or two vehicles a week with rodent damage like this brake sensor wire.


    Buche told WTHR he now sees one or two vehicles each week with wiring destroyed by rodents. On the day 13 Investigates visited his repair shop, Buche was working on a 2012 Toyota 4Runner damaged by a raccoon. That damage (chewed wires leading from the oil pressure sensor and the anti-lock brake harness) rendered the vehicle undriveable. It was towed to the shop, where repair costs were expected to cost about $500.

    “I’ve seen vehicles with thousands of dollars in damage,” said Buche, who is currently working on three Toyotas damaged by rodents. He sees lots of other vehicles, too.

    “I see it with everything. There's no make or model that's exempt,” the mechanic said.

    Earlier this year, Honda was sued for the same problem. The company now sells rodent-deterring tape – an electrical tape treated with the super-spicy active component in chili peppers – that you can use to wrap around the wires of your car. Critics point to the tape as proof that major automakers know their soy-based wiring insulation is prone to rodent damage and problematic for consumers.

    “It really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a potential problem,” Kabateck said. “[Toyota] doesn’t disclose anywhere that the wiring is soy-based. They also don’t disclose they had prior complaints from customers.”

    Chasing away the rodents

    While Heber has not used rodent tape, he has tried lots of other strategies to keep rodents away from his truck.

    “Cayenne pepper, we tried sprinkling that on the vehicle. I’ve used moth balls. Live traps. Finally, right now, we are using cats that are hopefully deterring the squirrels,” he said.

    Heber says he agreed to serve as lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit against Toyota to hold the automaker accountable, and he hopes the lawsuit will prompt changes that prevent hassles -- and repair bills -- for other drivers.



    [​IMG]
    Attorney Brian Kabateck says Toyota basically created “a Ritz Carlton for the rats” by using a soy-based wire insulation.


    The 26-page lawsuit alleges Toyota has breached its warranty and has violated both federaland Indiana state law by selling a defective product and by not agreeing to repair defective wiring under its new vehicle warranty. It seeks class-action status for millions of people who own 2012-2016 model year Toyotas, and it claims Toyota should pay for all damage caused by rodents that were attracted to the soy-based wiring insulation inside its vehicles.

    “I have no problem with making vehicles more environmentally-friendly, but it’s not more environmental when I’m driving back and forth to get things repaired,” Heber said. “I just want them to accept responsibility. It is not an isolated problem and it’s very damaging.”

    WTHR contacted Toyota to discuss the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the automaker sent a reply that says “We respectfully decline comment.”

     
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  2. Montgomery

    Montgomery Senior Member

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    Story gives one a lot to "chew" on. The soy based insulation seems proven to attract rodents. How this pans out will be interesting to us all. I will say this. I have 2 feral cats that live under my car when I come home at night. I didn't invite them. They just claimed underneath my car as their home. When I wake up in the morning, they look at me like "thanks for the home" and walk away. Are they there because of mice? Who Knows?
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    wouldn't be surprised to see toyota lose this one. burden of proof will be how much more than other manufacturers. don't know if that's possible? were all the damaged owners here offered the class?
     
  4. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    No rodent will chew up your car while those two cats are living there. You should appreciate them.
     
  5. WolfpackBill

    WolfpackBill Active Member

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    I wish our house has 2 feral cats living under my car. The mice made a pretty nice nest in my spare tire compartment.
     
  6. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Very interesting.
    I admit, I've read threads where people complained about rodent damage, and wanted to sue Toyota, and my reaction in the past was to defend Toyota and automakers as NOT being responsible for rodent damage.

    But the contention that soy based insulation and wiring components actually work to attract rodents? Changes the equation.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
     
  7. KeinoDoggy

    KeinoDoggy Member

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    "The Electric Me"

    Glad to see you've finally seen the light. this problem has been real for a long time, as me and others have reported here in the forums. Toyota needs to have their feet held to the fire for some kind of resolve.
     
  8. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    On propane grills, squirrels love to eat the rubber hose from the propane cylinder. Now Weber makes the hose out of braided metal, and the gas cylinder is inside the cabinet. So not sure the soy base does anything or not.

    In the brainstorming department, EPA is reducing sulfur in gasoline down to the ultra low levels (<20 ppm) so maybe the whole vehicle is starting to smell "sweeter".
     
  9. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    But will they prove that contention in court?

    And if they do... Toyota's going to take a bath in recall expenses. Can you imagine how expensive that recall would be?
     
  10. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    agreed. and sometimes it depends more on the judge than the evidence.
     
  11. Currahee

    Currahee Member

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    Rodents have been chewing electrical wires since before these newer plastics. Seems like something that could be tested under controlled conditions. I just don't understand how easy it is for them to get to the cabin air filter. They also like to store acorns in the air box but that's less of a problem.
     
  12. spiff72

    spiff72 Member

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    I had issues with the cabin air filter here, too. Shame on me, but I don't think I changed mine until 60k miles, and wow -- a pile of acorn shells on top of the filter. I had to suck them out with a vacuum so they wouldn't fall into the blower cage below as I pulled out the filter. I would like to know if there is a way to seal off the inlet with a screen to keep them out.

    I also have issues with acorn shells on top of components in the engine bay (around the oil filler cap, and many other crevices). I think mine are actually chipmunks/squirrels/mice.

    And with regard to the earlier comments about a recall - I doubt it would ever come to that. Maybe they offer $25 to each member of the class, or some sort of warranty, but I don't think it would be a recall.
     
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  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    look up the mice threads, there's tons of advice on sealing things off.
     
  14. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Well, I still think it will be interesting to see if or how this plays out.

    I think the debate hinges on trying to prove "negligence". And while the eco-friendly soy based wiring "might" be more enticing to rodents, proving that Toyota should of known this, or that they are responsible for this reality, I think a real challenge. I don't know if you can prove Toyota or any automaker should be testing for the "tastiness" of their wiring to the entire rodent population.

    Soy based or not, a rodent eating your wiring is still an random action of nature. How far ANY automaker goes in making their vehicles rodent resistant is a very debatable issue. Not making your vehicle "enticing" to rodents may be a different issue.

    My guess is that perhaps automakers will take notice, and future vehicles will be designed and built with attention to this issue. Both perhaps in design of vents and entry points, but also attention to the make-up of wiring. Maybe some level of Eco-Friendliness will have to be abandoned. But Toyota and all vehicles manufacturers are building vehicles first, and making them rodent proof or resistant, has in the past, probably not been that high on the priority list.

    I doubt much is done to resolve or remedy for the rest of us. We will be charged with creating our own remedies. I think the best you can hope for is that attention to this reality results in some level of change going forward. But the immensity of cost that admitting or taking responsibility for this problem would create? I doubt much of a manufacturer remedy will ever be advanced.
     
  15. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

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    OMG !!! Who can I sue next? Maybe I can sue my building contractor who used lumber to build my house. Termites just go nuts over that stuff.
     
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  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sweetgum.
     
  17. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    As a juror, the plaintiff would have to convince me that scientific testing proves that this insulation is genuinely attractive to rodents, and that Toyota had reason to know this.

    It's not enough that the rodent damage happened; it can happen with any car. Every automaker has seen this. The plaintiff would need to subpoena evidence from Toyota of knowledge that rodent damage was increasing, of studies Toyota did, number of complaints they received, etc.

    I think this plaintiff may be able to prove this, but the nonsense this lawyer's spouting off about "Ritz Carlton for rodents" isn't very compelling. The car design itself isn't negligent. Toyota's fault would be if this is an actual problem, and they learned about it and failed to do anything.
     
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  18. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    would that take a wikileak?:p a judge might be convinced just by all the complaints here and elsewhere, if any scientific studies proved them out. or even statistical analysis of all cars. who knows if this clown has anything or not.:rolleyes:
     
  19. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

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    Has anyone ever see the movie " New Cry Wolf"?
    I think this is probably the consummate answer to this consuming issue.
     
  20. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

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    Oops!
     
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