'Gutted' Leeds dad warns other campervan drivers after ‘plant-based’ wiring of his Volkswagen is eaten by rats
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Ian Newbold, 52, has claimed that the wiring on the underside of his VW California campervan – which he purchased in 2021 – was attracting rodents as it is made out of plant-based materials; a move he believes was made by VW and other manufacturers to make the products more environmentally friendly.
However, VW has denied this, saying that it can “confirm there are no products in the wiring or pipe coating which would actively attract animals”.
Mr Newbold has warned other drivers about the issue after finding out that the damage was not covered by his warranty and finding out that it is happening among other manufacturers.
Mr Newbold said he has “absolutely loved” having his campervan and has taken it for frequent trips across the UK and abroad with his wife and two children.
He said that it was two-and-a-half weeks ago when he took it to Harrogate to visit his mother-in-law and it “went into ‘limp’ mode" and wouldn’t go faster than 30mph.
He said he pulled over and called the AA, who were able to help get him to a VW dealership in Leeds. Mr Newbold said: “The guy at reception said ‘rats will have eaten through that’.”
Mr Newbold said he later went to independent garages who said that “this has been happening for years” as manufacturers were using plant-based materials that were more environmentally friendly but attracted rodents and foxes.
He said: “A local VW trader said that they are getting loads.”
Mr Newbold said that he frequently contacted VW to highlight the matter and request they pay for the repair work but they “were washing their hands of it”.
He said he “reluctantly” agreed to pay the near-£1,500 to have the van repaired but is now looking at selling it, saying he was “gutted”.
Mr 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.”
He urged other campervan owners to look into the matter and called on VW to call back the cars affected by the issue in case of a knock-on effect it could have. He said: “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.”
A VW spokesperson 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.
“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.”