Have squirrels or other varmints gnawed through your Toyota’s wiring? Maybe more than once? If so, you have company, and possibly lots of it.
According to a new class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the auto manufacturer’s decision to switch to a more environmentally friendly soy-based wiring insulation has turned some Toyota models into “bed and breakfasts” for squirrels and other vermin, who chew threw the wiring and wreak havoc with electrical systems, creating hefty repair bills.
Topclassactions.com reports that plaintiffs allege that sometime in the 2000s, environmental concerns and the rising costs of petroleum products led Toyota to switch from utilizing wiring with traditional petroleum-based insulation to newer, soy-based products. Just as the law of unintended consequences would script it, it turns out that the new plant-based wiring insulation is a treat and an attractant for squirrels and other rodents. One plaintiff had the problem with a 2014 Rav4 and allegedly had to pay out-of-pocket to have the wiring replaced — with the same type of pest-attracting wiring!
A second plaintiff had a similar problem with a Toyota Highlander. A warning light alerted him to a potential problem with the vehicle’s ABS brake system and an inspection confirmed that varmints had chewed through a wiring harness. The inspector told the plaintiff that the damage could cause the electronic warning system to fail to alert him in case of a malfunction.
The two plaintiffs are far from the only Toyota owners who have been affected. Many others have registered their grievances with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the same issue.
Excerpts from some of those complaints, which are similar to those in another Toyota soy wiring class action filed in Texas, are quoted in the Georgia lawsuit. Among them: that dealerships denied warranty coverage of the defect, forcing them to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for repairs; that they tried using repellent, poison, and storing the vehicle in a closed garage, but nothing seems to prevent further rodent damage; that their insurance companies and local Toyota dealership told them they were aware of a large number of claims of rodent-damaged vehicles.
The plaintiffs in Georgia, Tran and York, are proposing to represent all Georgia residents who have owned or leased a “class vehicle” with the Toyota soy wiring at issue and who have incurred out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the alleged defect.
Plaintiffs are seeking an award of damages and injunctive relief, including an order requiring Toyota to repair or replace vehicles affected by the Toyota soy wiring defect, and to extend those vehicles warranties. They also seek reimbursement of court costs and attorneys’ fees associated with this action.
Plaintiffs’ attorney is Joseph Coomes of McConnell & Sneed LLC. The Toyota Soy Wiring Defect Class Action Lawsuit is Hueduc Tran, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. , Case No. 1:17-cv-00085, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (source: press release)