2 major carmakers say rodents to blame for damage under the hood

ATLANTA — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said its underhood wiring is not to blame for the damage done by a rodent to a Marietta woman's car.

Melissa Allen noticed a bunch of warning lights illuminated on her dash and discovered two chewed wires under the hood of her 2016 Chrysler 200.

"Never did I ever think of having a mouse or some kind of rodent chew my car," she told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Jim Strickland.

Honda and Toyota are facing lawsuits alleging their wiring is insulated with a soy-based material that attracts rodents and rodent damage.


The Chrysler's wiring is made of a different material but still suffered damage to a connector on the braking system.

The company issued a statement saying: "The wiring insulation in this vehicle is petroleum-based. Damage caused by animal behavior is not covered under the vehicle's warranty."

"They said, 'No, we are not going to refund you on this. This is not a manufacturing defect,’" Allen said.

"What's your reaction to that?" Strickland asked.

"It's not going to be pretty,” Allen said.

The damage done to petroleum-based wiring bolsters the cases of Honda and Toyota, who're accused in lawsuits of using soy-based wiring that's especially attractive to rodents.

Toyota sent this statement:

"Rodent damage to vehicle wiring occurs across the industry, and the issue is not brand- or model-specific. We are currently not aware of any scientific evidence that shows rodents are attracted to automotive wiring because of alleged soy-based content.  Because these claims are the subject of current litigation, we cannot comment further."

Honda emailed the following:

"It is a long established fact that rodents are drawn to chew on electrical wiring in homes, cars, or anywhere else where they may choose to nest.

Honda introduced a rodent-deterrent tape a few years ago to help combat this age-old issue for customers who live in areas where rodents have caused prior damage. Our attempt to provide some protection for our customers against this natural behavior should not lead to the assumption that Honda created the issue in the first place.

Further, Honda sources parts, including electrical wiring and wire harnesses, from several different suppliers who each have their own proprietary formula for wire insulation and wire harnesses. Honda has not received any confirmation from its various suppliers that the wiring insulation and harnesses used in Honda vehicles are soy-based, as the plaintiffs allege. Honda is not aware of studies or information indicating that any of the wiring insulation or other components used for Honda vehicles are derived from substances that attract rodents or increase their propensity to chew on wiring or other components in engine compartments. It is Honda's understanding that rodents may seek shelter in engine components and once inside, can cause damage as a natural result of their need to chew and use material that has been chewed for nesting. Honda is not aware of any information suggesting rodents use wire insulation as a food source.

Class action lawsuits have been filed against a number of auto manufacturers alleging that vehicles contain soy-based wiring insulation and that such insulations attracts rodents to chew on the insulation. Honda believes that the class actions filed against it have no merit."