Cars are now Rat Food
Automologist MAC reports on a negative side-effect of cars going green…
The push to be ever greener and have more of the vehicle biodegradable has had an unforeseen and very unwanted side-effect. Rodents are happily chowing down on the wiring looms of some newer cars, rendering them inoperable at best and sometimes dangerous at worst. There have been reports surfacing for about a year now of car owners having to fork out for expensive car repair bills due to rodent damage in the engine. It would seem that the new biodegradable wires are made from something that rats in particular love to eat, and that something is soy.
The trend to produce recyclable wiring looms started in earnest in Germany in the early 1990’s, by the hemp-wearing EU politicians who believed that manufacturers were responsible for a vehicle from the cradle to the grave or, more accurately, from assembly to disassembly. It is a noble idea but if you know about the law of unintended consequences – whereby a good idea like irrigating a desert turns into a bad one when the water contains a deadly disease – then this particular example is an example of just that.
This first attempt to green the automaker industry was championed by Mercedes-Benz in 1991 when they commenced installing a biodegradable wiring harness. This has been an unmitigated disaster with no need for rodents to play a part; just a little heat and humidity would damage the wiring so badly that a full replacement was necessary to stop the infinite amount of wiring shorts that would occur, sometimes costing as much as US$6,000.
With the state of the world’s ice caps, it is hard to argue with the need to make everything we consume more sustainable, including our cars, but this travelling feast for the world’s rodent population is a massive headache for the world’s auto manufacturers. Class action suits have been launched against Honda and Toyota cars in the US of A, charging that the environmentally friendly wiring has made their cars irresistible to rodents.
Mother Nature seems to have a way of striking back at us and in fact this is not the first time that soy-based products have caused a problem. Back in the 1940’s, there was an effort to conserve metal for the war effort and thus license plates were made out of soy beans and fibreboards, which made them great food for goats and cows.
However, even if we were to go back to the old petroleum-based wires, this may not solve the problem. You see, rats’ teeth grow by up to 3mm per a week so they need to ‘file’ them down or else within a year, the teeth could be as long as their bodies. Trouble is, rats’ teeth are harder than most metals so they have to gnaw a lot.