Drivers warned of ‘plant-based’ car wires being ‘eaten by rats’ and causing huge repair costs

A rat and The Volkswagen California Campervan

The furious driver is calling on other motorists to be aware of the issue

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 13/11/2023

- 13:57

The motorist said he reluctantly paid almost £1,500 to repair the damage

An angry driver is urging other motorists to be aware of a bizarre issue which could see their cars damaged by rodents.

Ian Newbold has claimed that the wiring on the underside of his Volkswagen California campervan has been attracting rats who have damaged the vehicle.

The 52-year-old suggested that the wiring on the underside of his campervan is made out of “plant-based” materials.

However, Volkswagen has denied that any of its products used in the wiring would attract animals.

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Ian Newbold believes manufacturers are using plant-based materials to make their vehicles more environmentally friendly.

Some popular car brands have been using soy-based insulations to wrap wiring in the car.

According to Car and Driver, the insulation is favoured by rats, mice, squirrels and other animals, and has been the target of class-action lawsuits in the past.

Newbold, who lives near Leeds, is warning other drivers about the issues, adding that the damage was not covered by his warranty, Yorkshire Evening Post reported.

He said he “absolutely loved” his campervan which he would use to take frequent trips with his family across the UK and abroad.

The father-of-two said the first issue he noticed was on a recent visit to Harrogate when the vehicle “went into ‘limp’ mode” and wouldn’t go faster than 30mph.

A recovery service was able to transport the vehicle to Leeds where a person on the reception desk said “rats will have eaten through that”, with other independent garages saying: “This has been happening for years”.

He “reluctantly” agreed to pay almost £1,500 to have the van repaired, adding that he was “gutted” and looking to sell it.

Ian Newbold said: “I have dreamt of owning a camper for 40 years and we realised that dream and love it.

“Given that the expensive repair will not prevent this recurring, we are planning to sell it.

“Upon investigation, this is widespread and a known problem with several manufacturers.

“Some insurers will cover the cost however, once they understand the size of this I'm sure that will either change or premiums will soar to offset the risk.”

In response to the claims, a spokesperson for Volkswagen said: “We can confirm there are no products in the wiring or pipe coating which would actively attract animals.

“But rodents can seek out chewing materials and nesting places, gaining access through very small holes, and there are areas of vehicles that cannot, and should not, be completely sealed.


The Volkswagen California Campervan

The Volkswagen California campervan


“Although this is not a common issue, we do recommend some general products through our Volkswagen Van Centres (costing from around £15) which can help deter rodents.

“We would also advise the customer to contact a professional pest control company to ensure the surrounding area is clear.”

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