LOS ANGELES (CN) - Honda cars with soy-coated electrical wiring attract mice, rabbits and squirrels, who munch on the snacks, but Honda refuses to cover repairs, drivers from three states say in a federal class action.
Lead plaintiff Daniel Dobbs, of Wyoming, and car owners from Arizona and Texas sued Honda on Thursday for breach of warranty.
They claim that the soy-based coatings in 2012-2015 model year Hondas attract rodents.
Greg Delaney, of Arizona, says he took his 2014 CrossTour to the dealer because the wiring was "shredded through." The dealer said repairs were not covered by warranty, but they did find "a live rabbit still chewing through the wiring in Mr. Delaney's vehicle, and provided Mr. Delaney with a photograph of the live animal chewing the wiring in the car. Mr. Delaney was charged and paid approximately $765 for the repair," he says.
It wasn't a fluke, they say. Plaintiff Sean Rickard, of Texas, had to pay his $500 deductible from a $1,400 bill after his Accord's power steering wiring was chewed through. Honda refused to cover it under warranty. Two days later, he says, he saw "a rabbit resting underneath the car and chewing the wiring from that location closest to the ground without breaching the engine compartment. ... Mr. Rickard noticed that the wiring harness had been chewed through again at approximately the same spot."
Honda says the soy-based insulation is cheaper and kinder on the environment because it is biodegradable. "Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, however, a real and continuous unintended and undesired consequence of this soy-based insulation material is that it attracts rodents and other animals that are drawn by the soy content of the insulation, and proceed to chew through the insulation and electrical wires that the insulation coats," the complaint states.
Dobbs got off easy, with a repair bill of only $271.
Several consumer and news reports have noted that rodents like the soy in the insulation.
Honda knows it too, and "actually sells rodent repellent tape used to wrap electric wiring in order to deal with the propensity of having this wiring chewed through by rodents and other animals attracted to the soy component of the wires," Rickard says in the complaint.
It cites an auto mechanic who told a Cleveland news station in August 2013 that rodents are "drawn to" the tasty insulation, and build nests in the air intakes, for easy snacking.
Dobbs et al. seek class certification, actual and statutory damages for breach of express warranty and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and creation of a common fund for legal costs and fees.
They are represented by Michael Braun of Los Angeles and Roy Katriel of La Jolla.
Honda could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
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