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VW California owner blames ‘plant-based wire insulation’ for rodent damage

The owner of a Volkswagen T6.1 California campervan has told of his devastation after the wiring was eaten by rodents.

Ian Newbold, 52, says the ‘environmentally-friendly’ wiring on the underside of his Volkswagen California campervan – which he purchased in 2021 – was attracting rodents because they were made from plant-based materials.

Mr Newbold hopes to warn other owners about the issue after finding out that the damage was not covered by his warranty.

However, Volkswagen has said that “there are no products in the wiring or pipe coating which would actively attract animals”.

The issue first emerged for Mr Newbold last month when he took his campervan to Harrogate to visit his mother-in-law.

After going into ‘limp mode’, he pulled over and called the AA, who were able to help get him to a Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen trader said that they are getting loads.”

Mr Newbold says he contacted Volkswagen 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.”

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He urged other campervan owners to look into the matter and is calling on Volkswagen to recall affected vehicles.

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 Volkswagen 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.”

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