Even House Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t immune from rodents chomping on his vehicle’s engine wiring.
At a speech Thursday in Washington, Ryan noted that a family of woodchucks had eaten away at the wiring on his Chevrolet Suburban over the winter, according to reports in the Washington Times and the Washington Examiner.
The Wisconsin Republican told the audience at the Economic Club of Washington that he hasn’t driven a car in three years and that he would have to buy a new vehicle after he discovered his Suburban was “eaten by animals,” the news sites reported.
Ryan said a family of woodchucks feasted on the Suburban while it was stored at his mother’s home in Wisconsin, the Times reported. Ryan said the SUV has been stored there since 2015, the year he became House speaker and was assigned a security detail.
According to the Washington Times article, Ryan’s mother went to Florida for the winter and when she returned the SUV wouldn’t start. It stated Ryan took the vehicle to a mechanic, who discovered the woodchuck damage.
Ryan, who isn’t seeking reelection, said he recently renewed his license and that he plans to buy a Ford F-150 pickup truck to replace the Suburban.
Rodents eating through wiring has been an issue for vehicle owners and a class-action lawsuit was filed in California in 2016 against Toyota Motor.
Last month, a federal court judge in California granted motions from Toyota to dismiss the lawsuit against the automaker seeking to force it to cover – under warranty – damage from rodents chewing through insulation for engine wiring that is now soy-based versus petroleum-based.
The lawsuit was dismissed without leave to amend, meaning it can’t be refiled.
However, Brian Kabateck, a Los Angeles attorney representing the plaintiffs, said
Thursday the case has been appealed.
“Speaker Paul Ryan is not the only consumer whose car was rendered inoperable because of rodent damage, which is why we have officially appealed the case to the 9th Circuit,” Kabateck said in a statement. “In our lawsuit against Toyota involving soy wires, the judge’s decision to dismiss the case forces consumers to foot the bill for a defectively designed product that can be fixed by the manufacturer.”
Toyota called the claims in the class-action lawsuit “meritless.”
Toyota previously said in a statement that “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.”
In regard to the appeal, a Toyota spokesperson said Thursday “we believe plaintiffs repeatedly failed to allege facts that would support their defect claims and that the district court’s ruling should be upheld.”
The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Albert Heber of Indiana, and owners and lessees of 2012 to 2016 model year Toyota vehicles.
Heber’s 2010 Tundra had its soy-based insulated wiring chewed through by rodents three times, the first in 2013. Total damages were about $1,500 – damage Kabateck has said Toyota wouldn’t cover under warranty.
A similar lawsuit was filed against Honda in 2016 and dismissed later that same year by the plaintiffs, according to federal court records in California.
Kabateck previously said he believes that rodents eating through soy-covered wiring “is frequent and widespread, impacting tens of thousands of drivers nationwide.”
Follow Christina Hall on Twitter: @challreporter