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Florida woman sues Toyota for rodent-chewed wires



CLERMONT, Fla. A Florida woman is suing Toyota, claiming that soy-based insulation made the wires in her car an attractive edible for rats, squirrels and other rodents, who caused major damage to her RAV4.

Janice Toler filed a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Monday in federal court.

The car company changed from petroleum-based wire insulation "in the name of profit and cost-cutting," the lawsuit says.


Rodents caused $5,500 in damage to Toler's 2015 RAV4, which the dealership refused to fix under her warranty, Toler said in the suit.

She took her vehicle to a Toyota dealership on Oct. 13 and a service consultant told her that rodents had done extensive damage, the lawsuit says.

He showed her where the rodents had chewed through the wires and left behind urine and feces, Toler said.

The Toyota employee told her that "the car would require a total rewiring because rodents had chewed up almost every wire in the engine compartment," the lawsuit says.

When she called the company's regional office to complain, Toler claims that the person she spoke with on the phone said rodent damage is "not Toyota's problem."
 

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My neighbor's new solar pool water heating panels are also soy-based, and squirrels chewed them up in a year. Other neighbors with petroleum-based panels are untouched.
 

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One of the 300 mice living in my house ate the wires in my car. I must sue Toyota right away!!
 

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One of the 300 mice living in my house ate the wires in my car. I must sue Toyota right away!!
So you think that's a completely frivolous lawsuit?

What if your dash melted in the sun? How is parking outside (where rodents live) different from driving in the sun?

Both are absolutely normal conditions for a vehicle. It should resist being damaged from simply being parked outside, just like it should resist melting in the sun.
 

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This story is mine

This article/story is my story (I go by JanBond - it's a long story). I had no clue just how many people, and not just Toyota owners, were affected by the move to soy based protein used in the wiring insulation and plastic parts under the hood of my Toyota Rav4. These rodents did a number on my car. I don't think I would have filed a Class Action if the Toyota dealership would've worked with me to replace the wiring harness and all the plastic parts with non-soy based product. But they wouldn't. They said soy based protein products were being used by everyone and they did not have the older petroleum based products available anymore. So basically, they repaired my vehicle and put the exact same parts in that were destroyed by rodents. So what does that mean? Well, it means the Bed & Breakfast under my hood is back and open for business. Kidding aside, I am using different products to try and keep the rodents away. Peppermint oil, moth balls crushed and rubbed on my tires every night (when the rodents are active) Fresh Cab which is a fir based product that supposedly rodents don't like (just like peppermint). I am trying everything and hoping for the best. In the meantime, there have been other Class Action suits filed around the country. I had to file in FL first (where I live) so that my class action suit will be recognized in CA where I guess most Class Action suits are handled. If you know anyone who wants to join the class action suit, let me know and I'll direct them to the correct place. It does not have to be recent or even this year that your vehicle may have been damaged by rodents, you can still join a Class Action suit. And, you do not have to be from FL - there are class action suits in other states that have been filed by the firm I am using. I'm not sure if this forum has "private messaging" but if so, that would probably be better. Admins - if I am not allowed to give people the info. on a class action lawsuit, please just let me know - I am new and not sure.
 

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Welcome, JanBond007! There have been quite a number of complaints on this forum about expensive rodent damage to RAV4 wiring. Hopefully the lawsuit will be successful and Toyota will be required to reimburse owners for needed repairs and use wiring which isn't attractive to such pests - Toyota wiring insulation obviously is attractive to insulation-eating vermin. :serious
By contrast, some years ago and when I lived on farms we parked our vehicles where they were accessible to rodents and never had a problem with chewed wiring. Once a mouse built a nest in the hay baler pickup and likely was incorporated into a hay bale, but again there were no chewed wires.
 

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It's a natural phenomenon, like hail storms, floods and fires. Good luck finding a new car built with different materials, but if that's what you want go find one and buy it.
Whining at Toyota accomplishes nothing, but no doubt some lawyers will benefit. All Toyota has to prove is that what they do is industry standard and that's the end of the suit.
 

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Welcome, JanBond007! There have been quite a number of complaints on this forum about expensive rodent damage to RAV4 wiring. Hopefully the lawsuit will be successful and Toyota will be required to reimburse owners for needed repairs and use wiring which isn't attractive to such pests - Toyota wiring insulation obviously is attractive to insulation-eating vermin. :serious
By contrast, some years ago and when I lived on farms we parked our vehicles where they were accessible to rodents and never had a problem with chewed wiring. Once a mouse built a nest in the hay baler pickup and likely was incorporated into a hay bale, but again there were no chewed wires.
Thanks for the welcome Blogson - I joined this group a few months back when I was wondering if it was just me or if there were other Toyota owners having problems with the wiring and plastic on their vehicles. I found an earlier thread that confirmed it wasn't just me. I commented a few times on that thread. I didn't even know my story hit the news all over the country until today when a friend read the article in the Memphis, TN newspaper and called me to ask me if it was me (I guess there is another Janice Toler right here in FL). So when I googled my name, many news articles popped up, including this post in the RAV4 forum. I just wish Toyota would accept that the product they are using is actually very attractive to rodents and that's why we are having problems. They never chewed on the petro based products. I spent half a day trying to get Toyota corporate to recognize that this was a much bigger issues, which they obviously know because I am not the first Class Action lawsuit and I'm sure I won't be the last. They way their "warranty" is worded, it states they will be responsible for defective parts, which I think a product that attracts rodents, is a defect. They disagree so we'll take it to court and see. I do hope others don't have as much damage as I had.
 

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It's a natural phenomenon, like hail storms, floods and fires.
The sun is a natural phenomenon too. So is rain. But a customer can reasonably expect that a car meant to be driven outside will not melt in the sun, and will not electrically short when it's raining.

There is no negligence whatsoever when a rodent chews through wiring poorly protected from rodents. It's a design defect, plain and simple. Just like if driving through a rain puddle got the electricals wet, is a design defect.
 

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The sun is a natural phenomenon too. So is rain. But a customer can reasonably expect that a car meant to be driven outside will not melt in the sun, and will not electrically short when it's raining.
That's a pretty poor analogy, but if you believe that then sign up for the lawsuit and watch the lawyers make money while nothing else happens.
Its not a design defect if no other materials are available at reasonable cost.
 

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Is there a description of what was damaged? Maybe pictures?

This would help others to find the vulnerable areas that should be protected.
There is no practical way that engine wiring can be "protected" from a creature which can get through a hole the size of a U.S. nickel coin. Maybe armor plating it ??- in view of Toyota's apparent reason for changing the wiring insulation - to save money - that obviously would be absurd. Excusing Toyota regarding the problem basically whitewashes Toyota's of any responsibility, and as was pointed out in a prior post, changing the problem wiring to something which is not attractive to vermin isn't rocket science. Wiring which wasn't attractive to rodents was used in prior vehicles.
 

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Rav4 Rodent Damage

Toyota should bear the burden with regard to the rodent damage because they have known since 2010 that the soy based protein used in the wiring insulation and plastic parts under the hood is what attracts the rodents. It is just becoming more well known because Toyota has refused to address the problem. When they represented their vehicle to me, I had every right to believe that the vehicle was a new vehicle with no known problems. That wasn't true and for them to fail to tell me at the time of purchase, in an effort to see if I still wanted a product that had a known issue with the wiring covering and plastic parts under the hood that caused rodents to be attracted to and subsequently feast upon, causing tremendous and expensive repairs, puts Toyota at fault for not disclosing the problem. In addition, the value of my vehicle is now no where near what it should be for a car that is almost 2 years old. So yes, Toyota is to blame and they should be made to repair the problem in all Toyota vehicles - whatever it takes to stop consumers having to bear the brunt of their defective product. And it is a defect! My Isuzu Rodeo that I owned for 14 years (should have never traded it in for the Rav4) sat in my yard and never had the first critter or rodent go after it. I can't say the same for my Rav4.
 

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Is there a description of what was damaged? Maybe pictures?

This would help others to find the vulnerable areas that should be protected.

I do have pictures but can't for the life of me figure out how to upload them to this thread. I tried, but it says I have to supply a link to the photos. I uploaded them to Dropbox, but I think you have to send out invitations via email to share a folder with someone. Does anyone know how I can upload pictures?
 

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I do have pictures but can't for the life of me figure out how to upload them to this thread. I tried, but it says I have to supply a link to the photos. I uploaded them to Dropbox, but I think you have to send out invitations via email to share a folder with someone. Does anyone know how I can upload pictures?
JuneBug (moderator) has this explanatory post and thread: http://www.rav4world.com/forums/89-r4w-announcements/173842-how-post-your-photos-rav4world.html#post1691393

Forum members can locate answers to most queries by using the Search box near the top right side of the page.
 

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What I wonder is how they got the mouse to pose for the picture. :confused:
 

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An absolute waste of time. And frankly pretty silly.
rdgrimes - You are entitled to your opinion, but I bet it is not one that is shared with anyone who has suffered major damage by the pesky rodents. What is a waste of time is the amount of time it took to repair my vehicle from start to finish. There are currently a minimum of 4 Class Action Lawsuits against Toyota for not disclosing that there has been problems since at least 2010 with regard to their switch to soy based protein wire insulation and plastics in their vehicles. And, I don't find this incident silly at all, I find it extremely irritating! Apparently money is not a problem for you, however I work hard for mine and I don't appreciate having to spend it to pay an insurance deductible.

Dr. Dyno - I have no idea where they got that picture but I laughed when I saw it.
 

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I wonder if there is a Petroleum based protective spray we can spray on the wires ourselves, at least on the wires that are reachable?
Ott.
 
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