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Car Manufacturers Sued Over Rodents Eating Soy-Insulated Wires (hackaday.com) 188

An anonymous reader writes about "a little-known problem plaguing many newer vehicles from the likes of Honda, Toyota, and Kia." The car makers used soy-insulated wiring to cut costs and "Go Green", but owners in rural areas are finding the local wildlife finds the wiring irresistible; thousands of dollars in damage has been done by rats and other critters eating wiring harnesses. Hackaday is asking their community to brainstorm solutions to this unique problem, as owners of affected vehicles have had to resort to sprinkling their driveway with coyote urine and putting rat traps on the wheels.
Hackaday reports that "It isn't just one or two cases either, it's enough of a problem that some car manufacturers are getting hit with class-action lawsuits." Back in 2010 Slashdot reported that rabbits had already discovered the joys of eating soy-insulated wires, and were turning the parking lot at the Denver International Airport into their own personal buffet.

There's even a web site called HowToPreventRatsFromEatingCarWires.com, which reports that Honda has already manufactured a special wire-wrapping tape that's infused with the active ingredient from chili peppers.
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Car Manufacturers Sued Over Rodents Eating Soy-Insulated Wires

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  • one word (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geoskd ( 321194 )

    Honda has already manufactured a special wire-wrapping tape

    This is simple: Poison

    Just like pressure treated lumber, add arsenic to the insulation in relatively small quantities. Just enough to kill anything that eats this as a primary diet, but not enough to prevent biodegrading. Quickly enough critters will develop a strong distaste for the stuff.

    • Re:one word (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:45AM (#55967165) Homepage

      Lovely. Chewed up wiring and dead, smelly animals in your car.

      What's not to like?

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Arsenic doesn't act that rapidly, and the dose needs to be low enough that it acts as a cumulative poison. So that's a bad suggestion, unless it's something that tastes foul enough to rodents that they already avoid it.

        Strychnine might work, but that has a bitter taste, and I'm not sure that rats can taste bitter. (If they could, I think they'd avoid warfarin.)

        Butyl mercaptan might work. You'd need to encapsulate it, but it might not only drive the rats away, but also give you a quick warning that someth

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Capsaicin seems like a much simpler solution... Almost all mammals (including rodents) find it painful. Doesn't work on birds, however, as they can't taste it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2018 @04:17PM (#55968415)

        Soviet Field Mice Attack German Tanks

        From 'Enemy At The Gates' by William Craig:

        "Finally the German High Command made a move to cover its (6th Army's) flanks. The 48th Panzer Corps, stationed more than 50 miles southwest of the ominous Russian bridgeheads at Kletskaya and Serafimovich on the Don, received priority orders to move up to the threatened sector.

        Led by Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Heim, a close friend and former aide to Paulus, the 48th clanked onto the roads and headed northeast. But only a few miles after starting out, the column ground to a halt when several tanks caught fire. In others, motors kept misfiring and finally refused to run at all. Harried mechanics swarmed over the machines and quickly found the answer. During the weeks of inactivity behind the lines, field mice had nested inside the vehicles and eaten away the insulation covering the electrical systems. Days behind schedule, the 48th Corps finally limped into its new quarters. It was almost totally crippled. Out of one hundred four tanks in the 22nd Panzer Division, only 42 were ready for combat."

    • Re:one word (Score:5, Insightful)

      by careysub ( 976506 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:49AM (#55967185)

      Most people would rather not have the wiring eaten at all, rather than finding it being used as a part of a multl-generation breeding experiment to develop a wild/feral population of wiring-averse rodents.

      • Re:one word (Score:5, Funny)

        by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:12PM (#55967263)
        Or worse, your wires are all chewed up, and the rodents have now built up an immunity to arsenic! Lets make the wires radioactive as well!
        • OK then ... time for the **BIG** guns. We're gonna play the Kale Card. No doubt that kale can kill the little cretins. Only problem is how to get them to eat it.

        • Re:one word (Score:5, Informative)

          by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @01:33PM (#55967639)

          We used twine laced with arsenic when I installed wiring in tech control facilities. They don't get immune to it.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Radiation might work. Tests have shown that rats already tend to avoid radioactive areas. (Unlike cockroaches, which have eaten the insulation in the inside of nuclear reactors.)

          OTOH, I'm not sure how strong that tendency is. My guess is that it's based somehow on the same mechanism that caused them to avoid lighted areas, and that can be overridden if they feel like it...though they usually don't. But I'm also guessing that the avoidance of radioactivity is a lot lower than the avoidance of light, beca

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Honda has already manufactured a special wire-wrapping tape

      This is simple: Poison

      Just like pressure treated lumber, add arsenic to the insulation in relatively small quantities. Just enough to kill anything that eats this as a primary diet, but not enough to prevent biodegrading. Quickly enough critters will develop a strong distaste for the stuff.

      A little nibbling on lumber will create essentially no damage or risk.

      A little nibbling on electrical wiring is another matter entirely.

      And one dead critter doesn't "teach" other critters. Otherwise, mouse traps would have been proven ineffective hundreds of years ago.

    • I seen Chipmunks jumping up into my engine compartment so I bought a "Rat Zapper" and solved that problem! Got 9 of the little bastards pretty quickly!
    • by pereric ( 528017 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @01:39PM (#55967675) Homepage

      Arsenic won't in itself biodegrade, it's a metal. It will spread in the environment. Probably not in dangerous doses just from wire insulation, but still no good idea. I would rather go with non-edible cables in the first place ...

      • Arsenic won't in itself biodegrade, it's a metal. It will spread in the environment.

        Finally someone who gets it. Yes, it's a poisonous element. So by introducing it into the environment, you're introducing it into the environment, and it's going to remain in the environment for the foreseeable future. (NB : I'm foreseeing with the eyes of a geologist here - hundreds of thousands of years.)

        Someone in the mid-1920s showed that adding a lead compound to fuel mixes would make engines run better, so they set ab

    • by suss ( 158993 )

      Then get sued when someone's cat/dog/owl eats the dying or dead rodent, and dies too...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hehhehe.

    • Doesn't seem like denatonium prevents bums around here (Poland) from drinking bone blueberry.

  • not just cars (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:44AM (#55967161)

    Its not just cars. I bought a battery charger/jump starter from Harbor Freight, which has much of its products made in China. After only one month, I went out to my tool shed to find it and, lo and behold, all the insulation on the wiring was stripped clean. I live in SE AZ, in the desert so we have lots of wild life, but it was done so fast, I figured it might be a whole family, but I set a trap using a coil of insulated wiring from Harbor Freight, and caught the lil fckr. He was fat a sassy, and over the next two days I found several power tools all stripped of insulation.

    However, I have had a '86 Honda civic sitting in the car port that the wiring was untouched. So its obvious a recent thing

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      I've had bad luck with Harbor Freight, and I think it has to do with the Chinese model for selling stuff to the US.

      Chinese factories can turn out stuff that is as good as anything made anywhere, but if the middleman thinks he can get away with selling Americans junk they'll gladly supply him -- because he's their customer, not you. It'd be different if the manufacturers owned the brands under which they sell. Then their reputation would be on the line with every tool you bought. But it's not; they stamp w

    • I used to work for Mercury Marine, and they changed the rubber used to make the bellows that seals the driveshaft and shift cables under water.

      The new material lasted about 3 - 5 times as long as the old, and replacement is a very expensive job, so it was advertised heavily as a product improvement.

      Unfortunately rodents found it very tasty, even water rodents. There were lots of sunken boats!

  • Not Just Rural Areas (Score:5, Informative)

    by careysub ( 976506 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:47AM (#55967175)

    I live in surburbia, and this happened to me. Rodents ate the wiring in my Honda Odyssey a few of years ago.

    • Ditto. I had a rodent munch through one of the spark plug cables. Started the car and it was running rough. Plugged in the code scanner and got a misfire on cylinder X code. Opened the hood and saw the broken cable. IIRC, two other cables were also damaged but the conductor was intact.
    • Squirrels gnawed the insulation off a neighbor's Prius here in the Boston 'burbs, so he had to have it rewired. He loaded the car with mothballs afterwards to keep them from coming back. Hadn't heard about the soy-based insulation but it makes sense. The little buggers will eat almost anything - except airline pretzels.
  • Useless (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:53AM (#55967199)

    "Honda has already manufactured a special wire-wrapping tape that's infused with the active ingredient from chili peppers."

    Mexican rats love that stuff.

  • Ethylene glycol poisoning used to be quite common until they used an additive to make it taste bad. Should be just as simple.
  • What could go wrong?

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:13PM (#55967267)

    Obvious answer is poison but thats not great for mechanics, and also not addressing the root cause. The real answer is to not use soy insulation in the first place.
    As someone who likes classic cars (i.e. that need to be around for a LONG time) I really don't like the whole thought that insulation should biodegrade after a few years anyway.

  • Capitalism says too bad! Sucks to be you! Live in a place without rodents next time!
  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:24PM (#55967309)

    Why on earth would anybody want wires with biodegradable insulation? That makes zero sense.

    Even without providing rodent buffets, cars will be shorting out in a few years due to the wire insulation BIODEGRADING. If these executives and engineers think it's such a great idea, let's see them use this wiring in their homes.

    Personally, I think wiring should have insulation that can last through a century or more, if possible.

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      The rest of the car is unlikely to last a century or more, though.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The concern is that the insulation will crack or flake and allow shorts before the lifetime of the car. Design criteria for insulation in automotive wiring is that it can handle heat, cold, solvents, vibration, abrasion. Now lets add "not tasty, even for a single nibble" to the list.

    • by Grog6 ( 85859 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @02:05PM (#55967791)

      This is all about the length of time a car will last.

      The manufacturers don't want them to last, they want you to buy a new one every year.

      This way, the every time they get parked outside, they get eaten, a bit at a time. :)

      Cuts down on the impurities in the recycled copper, too.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I've also heard that it's cheaper than proper insulation. But yeah, it's dumb, nobody will throw away that copper as trash, it's simply too valuable.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @03:17PM (#55968131)

      Why on earth would anybody want wires with biodegradable insulation? That makes zero sense.

      Because things end up in landfills. Biodegradable doesn't mean in 5 years it will have rotted away. Biodegradable just means that it can be broken down naturally. Typical plastics can only be reduced in size to the point where they enter the food cycle. Bio-degradable plastics just mean they can be broken down by bacteria in certain conditions.

      That last sentence is key. Biodegradable plastics don't actually start to break down unless they are carefully composted in the right conditions.

      So to answer your question: Who wouldn't want biodegradable insulation. It makes zero sense not to use it for anything other than the sensor in your compost monitoring system.

      • by Cinnamon Beige ( 1952554 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @04:44PM (#55968545)

        Cars are some of the most heavily recycled things on this planet--they certainly don't end up in landfills under normal circumstances, and I'd generally expect any dumped in a landfill to have bonus corpses. The value of a dead car is not insignificant. A car sold to a scrap yard--which can net you a decent sum [scrapsalesusa.com]--will be broken down with the salvageable parts sold and the metal that's left is melted down for reuse. All of this is better for the environment than a new car made from 'virgin' materials--a good chunk of the nastiest parts of the ecological impact is from getting those raw materials.

        So you don't actually want biodegradable insulation on those wires anywhere near as much as you want insulation that will last a good ~25 years at minimum and burn off as cleanly as possible when it's time to recycle the metal in the wires.

        • Cars are some of the most heavily recycled things on this planet

          Indeed. You can see them recycled in giant piles at the scrapyards. The problem is we recycle things of value. Salvageable parts, metals, even the copper in cabling is good. You know why the recycling market pays more for raw copper rather than for cables per weight? Because of the effort needed to strip out the copper (recycled) from the plastic (not recycled). Cable sheathing is made of many different types of plastics and rubbers. No recycler ever puts the effort in to recycling the sheaths when the copp

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Indeed. You can see them recycled in giant piles at the scrapyards. The problem is we recycle things of value. Salvageable parts, metals, even the copper in cabling is good. You know why the recycling market pays more for raw copper rather than for cables per weight? Because of the effort needed to strip out the copper (recycled) from the plastic (not recycled). Cable sheathing is made of many different types of plastics and rubbers. No recycler ever puts the effort in to recycling the sheaths when the copp

          • Biodegradable and burnable are not the same things. There is, admittedly, an overlap between the two groups, but each category includes quite a few things that are unwise at best to leave to rot or to burn. However, you're correct that it's disposed of if burned off--but it doesn't need at all to be biodegradable in order to burn cleanly, and...bluntly? Damn near nothing will biodegrade in a modern landfill. Far future archeologists will be finding your mummified food waste when they go digging.

            Also, in

        • "you want insulation that will last a good ~25 years at minimum and burn off as cleanly as possible"

          It's been illegal to burn insulation off wiring in a lot of countries for decades due to the toxic fumes invariably released (noone ever burns them at 1100C)

          The approved method is to chop the wiring into microconfetti and use electrostatic separation.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Because things end up in landfills. Biodegradable doesn't mean in 5 years it will have rotted away. Biodegradable just means that it can be broken down naturally. Typical plastics can only be reduced in size to the point where they enter the food cycle. Bio-degradable plastics just mean they can be broken down by bacteria in certain conditions.

        Problem is...with cars? Everything is recycled out of them, I mean everything. Wiring harness, used brake shoes, engine+transaxle, for cars with clutches the entire engine and transaxle/transmission is sold in one piece. Hydraulic clutch plates, bulbs, plastic fasteners, rads, windshields/windows, tires, rims. even the engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolent has value. Every single part can be stripped down to the subframe and either sold at a scrap yard back into circulation, or by specialized compa

        • You should see what happens to wiring harnesses when they are recycled. Hint: The copper is the only thing of value to the person doing the "recycling". Fire is the recycling of choice and rapid oxidation of plastic does a great job of doing what a landfill does in seconds instead of years. You end up with plastic particulate pollution, if you're lucky they'll ship it to China before that happens.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Hint: The copper is the only thing of value to the person doing the "recycling". Fire is the recycling of choice and rapid oxidation of plastic does a great job of doing what a landfill does in seconds instead of years.

            That's actually illegal in most places(here in north america), simply because of what you said. You're allowed to heat the plastic to make it easier to remove, but burning it to get the copper? Almost all metal recyclers won't take wire like that for fear it's been stolen, not only can they get their licenses pulled for that, but there's big fines if they're caught.

    • by fgouget ( 925644 )

      Why on earth would anybody want wires with biodegradable insulation?

      Where does it say that this insulation is biodegradable? I did not find any reference to this in the articles.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Even without providing rodent buffets, cars will be shorting out in a few years due to the wire insulation BIODEGRADING. If these executives and engineers think it's such a great idea, let's see them use this wiring in their homes.

      Organic parts can be made to last longer. In fact, a boat manufacturer replaced their shaft seals with new ones that lasted 2 to 3 times longer than the existing rubber ones, in testing. Good change, right? Customers can buy seals that last twice as long as the old ones (thus halv

  • This isn't the first time they made delicious wire insulation. The solution the last time was to add something that tastes disgusting to rodents.

  • by Rat King Dave ( 5234873 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:51PM (#55967421)
    Hello! Thank you so much for featuring my website howtopreventratsfromeatingcarwires.com here! I am happy to help answer any questions anyone may have regarding this issue, especially if you are in the midst of a rodent attack! Thanks!
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @12:57PM (#55967437) Journal
    Honda and Toyota are on firm legal ground here. The manual very clearly states that by getting into the car you agree to the EULA, which you can read as soon as you get into the car and get the user manual.

    There is no warning "Beware of the Leopard" on the glove box, showing the good faith of Honda and Toyota.

    The EULA very clearly states that, " ... it is the responsibility of the user to prevent rodents from eating the wiring harness. Honda/Toyota recommend the use anti-rodent devices and the user must install and keep all such anti-malorganism devices up to date.

    • by ZosX ( 517789 )

      Because EULA's are always legally enforceable.......

    • by mishehu ( 712452 )
      Although if your car is Jeffrey Lebowski's (the Dude, not the old man), then your car is in fact a disused lavatory... But I wouldn't hold out for the Credence.
  • by StandardCell ( 589682 ) on Saturday January 20, 2018 @01:04PM (#55967477)
    Wire harnesses are a critical component to vehicle safety. Wires that can degrade during the normal service life of a vehicle can be deadly. Think about a wire harness with insulation that's been eaten that controls the ABS, fuel injection or an airflow sensor, and you hit a bump in the road and it shorts. Now you lose power or braking. Are we willing to have someone's vehicle fail and the people seriously hurt or dead because of a fundamental design flaw?

    I've worked on my own cars for years and seen some really stupid compromises and designs that make regular service difficult or results in failures just outside the warranty period. This, however, takes the cake, and we need to stand up to this by declaring the insulation issue a fundamental safety issue. I'm now thinking about mitigation strategies beyond my standard maintenance that neither I nor anyone else shouldn't have to think about, like underhood blinking lights, sprays, capsaicin tapes, etc..

    I would encourage anyone with one of these vehicles to file a NHTSA complaint stating that soy wire harnesses should be banned and recalls instituted to remedy the problem by either (a) replacing the harnesses with standard synthetic non-edible polymers as appropriate to the specific application, or (b) providing coatings that provably prevent rodents from consuming the insulation over the lifespan of the vehicle. We should also inform our congresscritters about this issue.

    NHTSA complaint form: https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/... [dot.gov] Congresscritters: https://www.house.gov/represen... [house.gov] and https://www.senate.gov/senator... [senate.gov]
    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      I had a 1999 Isuzu Trooper (so this is definitely not a new problem), and there was a time it got left outside for a few months in a semi-industrial area due to long-term repair work. Rodents ate the insulation to the wiring for the 4WD transfer case. Not only did it stop working, after a couple more years, it started kicking in when it shouldn't. (It was a push-button 4WD, but it was not designed to be used at highway speeds.) I finally took it in to a transmission repair place. Total bill? $250 (mostly la

      • by fgouget ( 925644 )

        Really, biodegradable insulation on copper wire in an automotive context is a phenomenally stupid idea.

        Fortunately there is nothing indicating that this insulation is biodegradable.

        • Sometimes the insulation and conductor are incompatible. I had a 1986 John Deere tractor. In 1993 several wires of the same type disintegrated. The insulation crumbled away and the copper turned into blue dust. My other one of the same model a few years newer did not developed that problem.
        • The article is literally about the insulation being biodegradable.

          Biodegradable: (of a substance or object) capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

          • by fgouget ( 925644 )

            The article is literally about the insulation being biodegradable.

            Biodegradable: (of a substance or object) capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

            More precisely: The IUPAC defines biodegradation as "degradation caused by enzymatic process resulting from the action of cells" and notes that the definition is "modified to exclude abiotic enzymatic processes." [wikipedia.org]. Rats and rabbits are not cells hence when they chomp on insulation it's not biodegradation.

            • Well, clearly, everybody other than you here is going by the standard dictionary definition, aka the very first line of the article you posted. You, however, are going by a very narrow definition used in very specific contexts, aka the tiny footnote at the end of the article, which you linked directly to. Which, going from the article title and abstract, seems to be referring specifically to artificial polymers?
              • by fgouget ( 925644 )

                Well, clearly, everybody other than you here is going by the standard dictionary definition, aka the very first line of the article you posted. You, however, are going by a very narrow definition used in very specific contexts, aka the tiny footnote at the end of the article, which you linked directly to.

                Interesting. To me it's your inclusion of rabbits and rats into the organisms that count for biodegradation that seems unusual and overly broad. In part because once something biodegradable is put in a landfill, if it has to rely on rodents to biodegrade it's likely to last for a very long time.

                Furthermore one of the articles says that the rodents are "attracted to wires for the purpose of sharpening their teeth" and that they are attracted by the "smell" of the soy insulation. There is no indication in th

                • You don't find it interesting that you apparently have a size bias as to what constitutes 'an organism breaking down something via various forms of digesting?' What's the difference between bacteria eating something, or fungi, or mold, or insects, or scavengers?

                  • by fgouget ( 925644 )

                    You don't find it interesting that you apparently have a size bias as to what constitutes 'an organism breaking down something via various forms of digesting?' What's the difference between bacteria eating something, or fungi, or mold, or insects, or scavengers?

                    No. The difference is that when a piece of trash is 10 meters deep in a landfill the only things that will be able to eat it are things like bacteria, fungi or mold. Rodents and other scavengers are unlikely to be able to have a go at it. And I still see no indication that the insulation from the articles is being biodegraded, only that it is being shredded.

                    • You don't think that there are small animals, let alone larger animals, or insects, that burrow?

                      Or is it that you think that 'biodegradation' is also dependent on *where* the thing being degraded is, not just *what* is doing the eating?

                      The article is chock full of descriptions of animals 'eating' the insulation. I don't draw an artificial distinction between that eating being done by rodents and bacteria. You do. Fine. We don't agree on the definition of 'biodegradation.' That's OK. I wish you well in

                    • by fgouget ( 925644 )

                      You don't think that there are small animals, let alone larger animals, or insects, that burrow?

                      I don't think they can burrow deep enough to make an impact. Also most animals that burrow don't actually eat what's underground. Rabbits for instance mostly eat surface plants, maybe some roots, but not dirt. And I'm not sure a landfill is a good environment for animals to burrow due to the high concentration of plastic, metal and various other toxic stuff. In practical terms this means I don't think we can count on multi-cell animals to biodegrade the stuff in our landfills. Not beyond the 0.1% of the day

      • I miss my Trooper, what a beast. But now I wonder if the flaky transmission that convinced me sell it was precipitated by chewed wiring rather than plugged oil passages or worn clutch packs. It was rebuilt by the previous owner and had intermittent issues when I got it, but it got worse while I owned it and I eventually sold it for a song. Not sure the insulation in question is biodegradable just because it contains soy, but whatever, if it smells and tastes like food to rodents it's a problem either way.
    • and you hit a bump in the road and it shorts. Now you lose power or braking.

      You do no such thing. Despite what you think cars are actually quite well designed to deal with these issues and they actually happen very frequently without any kind of class action lawsuit.

      - ABS shorts out? Well that's why it's an active monitored system and why it has a red light on the dash. Same with every other safety system in the car.
      - Brakes? You don't need electronics for breaks, just a functioning engine, and even if the engine fails you often have several decent pumps of the pedal before the hyd

      • Me thinks you don't know much about how a car actually works.

        You do no such thing. Despite what you think cars are actually quite well designed to deal with these issues and they actually happen very frequently without any kind of class action lawsuit.

        - ABS shorts out? Well that's why it's an active monitored system and why it has a red light on the dash. Same with every other safety system in the car. - Brakes? You don't need electronics for breaks, just a functioning engine, and even if the engine fails you often have several decent pumps of the pedal before the hydraulics fail on you so you can still come to a stop. Individual brakes fail often enough, but you're still able to stop the car when you're down a couple.

        There is a master cylinder in the braking system that provides power to the brakes. The engine uses vacuum to provide power brakes that multiply the effect of the master cylinder. The only time you end up with "just a couple of pumps" Is if the system has a hydraulic leak which, by its nature, means that you'd have to use the pumps to continue to apply pressure. ABS just allows the pressure to be adjusted per wheel. When ABS fails, your car br

        • Me thinks you don't know much about how a car actually works. ... snip ...

          but the computer does not artificially govern your vehicle

          You were doing so well right up until that point. There's even a colloquial name for the action of the computer artificially governing your vehicle: Limp mode.

          A fuel injector failure (or your engine running too hot) can actually destroy your engine.

          Yes it can. It rarely does. And even if it did the result is not an instant safety case.

          Power steering is almost always hydraulic. Why would you want it to be electric

          They are electro-hydraulic with adjustable sensitivity and tied into the ECU. When they first came out they were powered by the engine (which gave the driver some great feedback on when their accessory belt breaks). They haven't been setup like that for many years

          • They are electro-hydraulic with adjustable sensitivity and tied into the ECU. When they first came out they were powered by the engine (which gave the driver some great feedback on when their accessory belt breaks). They haven't been setup like that for many years instead as a self contained and powered unit.

            You know a bit about the mechanics of a car, but you seem to know little of the modern electronics in them, and aside from your incorrect statement that the computer doesn't govern the engine speed during failure everything else backed up what I was saying: None of those failures are a safety issue. Despite what you think the people who designed these systems actually thought about the failure modes.

            What car actually governs the speed during a failure? They disable certain systems, such as stability control, traction control, cruise control, etc, but it would be a huge safety hazard to have someone's speed hampered for no reason other than a potential sensor failure. The point of the light is to get you to pull over and assess the situation when it is safe to do so. I'm also aware of the fact that stability control and things like that require that the sensitivity of the steering to be dynamic but t

            • So unless you can cite something specific, I still do not believe you understand as much as you think you do.

              A quick google search indicates that some cars DO have a limp mode when transmission damage can occur. But not for any of the failures you mentioned. The transmission failing can be a safety issue for a variety of reasons.

            • What car actually governs the speed during a failure

              Lots do. This is particulary common with "drive by wire" engines where the ECU has much greater control over the engine.

              Older cars with a mechanically actuated throttle were limited in the degree of control that the ECU can have, because the ECU has virtually no control over air mass flow. Without that, it is very difficult for the ECU to limit engine power without risking further serious damage to the engine or emissions.

              With drive-by-wire, the ECU

    • "providing coatings that provably prevent rodents from consuming the insulation over the lifespan of the vehicle."

      Just about everything that is "proven to taste disgusting to rodents" - will still be eaten eventually. Keeping vermin out of telco installations is a never-ending battle.

      • A telco installation is stationary, is it not? Why not just hire a few cats, preferably with severe anger issues and a history of violent behavior??
        • The installations may be stationary, but locations in roadside cabinets or hilltops aren't conducive to keeping felines - especially when it may be months to years between visits. Rodents also love to eat cables in ducts.

  • How about we stop making them out of food?

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      That's a pretty novel idea, that'll never catch on. It's more important to save the planet from wiring that doesn't disintegrate over time.

  • Make the insulation out of good old-fashioned petrochemicals, the way God intended.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Rats and mice avoid most poisons by never eating something that caused nausea a second time.

    Provide bait stations with treated wiring and some rodent excrement at common entry points. Rodents go there first, decide "Nope" and declare "Nope" on the rest of the wiring.

    In addition, have a spot that's attractive to rodents and predator accessible away from the parking to 1) lure the rodents away 2) let the local predators dispose of them for you.

  • My new Jeep Cherokee had to go back just a day after I bought it. Rodents had chewed into the top of the coolant reservoir while it sat on the lot. Coolant stink and fluid all over the engine bay. Service guy said it happened a lot...

  • I saw recently that rats had eaten the outer sheathing of some mains wiring in my house, but not the insulation of the inner individual wires. I suspected at the time that there's something extra delicious about the outer covering.
  • But not everything should be biodegradable. Some things from which human lives depend (like your car's wiring) should be built to endure and be recycled when they don't work anymore, or when their time of disposal arrives.

    Ephemeral trash like plastic bottles and food wrappings should all degrade and fuck off in a few months, though.
    • pffft, no one wants food containers that are useless for storage.

      copper in wires can be recycled, the insulation is waste and there is no viable substitute, maybe as well burn it and plastic as fuel as it won't really make much difference to carbon load on atmosphere compared to fossil fuel use.

      • If you're going to burn it, you should do it as fuel in a proper environment where the nasties are fully oxidised.

        There's an asshole around my neighbourhood who's been regularly burning plastics off copper for more than a decade (only after dark, so hard to trace - sneaky prick). The fumes have been making people sick for a while. He finally got located and identified a couple of weeks ago and the law is in the process of shredding him.

  • It's amazing how often the crusade to go green ends up being an epic fail.

  • March 2017- Rats ate the wiring harness out of my wife's 2015 Mazda CX-5. $1,500 in damage, all but deductible covered by USAA (thank you USAA).

    Traps on the wheel are no good- traps get knocked off, rats go around them, etc.. Regular traps are too risky to the person handling them. Log-roll bucket traps are okay, but not great. Best we've found so far is glue traps attached to board with kibble in between the traps. Traps in engine compartment with sign on steering wheel to remind us when we go anywher

  • My family has had this problem with two different Mazda 3's (one was a 2010, other was either 2010 or 2013, same generation at least) at two different suburban residences - chewed oxygen sensor wires. I thought it was the textile lining under the plastic cover above the intake manifold that they were most interested in, since I found mouse droppings and torn fabric there on one of them. But I guess maybe it was the wire coverings that were attractive. Interesting.
  • When we lived in the Seattle area and would visit National Parks we would see vultures hanging around the parking lots. Apparently they liked the fish-oild based wiper blades and the soy bungie cords. The NPS tried thier best to keep them away but not much worked.

    I also had squirrel eat over 1K of wiring on my solar panels. Apparently the coating was soy based so the squirrels would next under the panels and snack. After replacing all the stripped wiring I now have a squirrel guard around all my panels

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