Rats! Tesla Deals With Rodent Problems as Customers Complain Animals are Attracted to the Soy-Based Wiring

Last Updated on July 12, 2021

MyFinancialTimes is a reader-centric site. We may receive compensation from the products and services we mention or recommend in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Remuneration may impact where offers appear. We may not include all available products or offerings. To learn more you can visit our advertising policy and editorial policy.

Tesla could be facing a huge problem as rat tales come out of the woodwork. Some customers who purchased an eco-friendly electric vehicle are complaining that rats have infiltrated their cars, and chewed the wires, causing thousands in damages. The problem is growing, and Tesla has done little to remedy the issue.


In a report printed by the NY Post, Tesla customer Sarah Williams explained that rats destroyed the air conditioning unit in her 2018 Model 3. According to the 41-year-old physician from Manhattan, after taking the faulty vehicle for repair at Tesla’s Paramus, NJ, dealership in mid-May, mechanics discovered a rodent in the glove compartment.


“They opened the glove compartment and a rodent fell out,” Williams recalled. “It’s crazy.” The rodent reportedly fed on Williams’ Model 3 Tesla, nipping at several internal wires that ruined the air conditioning unit. The costs exceeded $5,000 and damages have taken months to finish, according to Williams, who also claims she’s paying out of pocket. The $59,200 price tag on the 2018 Model 3 doesn’t include rat-related warranties, which left Sarah Williams with the expensive repair costs. She also had to find alternative methods of transportation, as repairs have taken longer than anticipated.


So why are rats finding Tesla wires so appetizing? And why hasn’t Elon Musk or his company made an effort to curb its pest problem?


In an email response to Williams, Tesla Service Advisor, Joe Solis, explained that “most auto manufacturers use the soybean vs. oil in their wire insulation for newer vehicles because it is less expensive and better for the environment.” As for why Williams’ warranty doesn’t cover rat-related damages, Solis said that “the use of this material would not be considered a ‘defect’ in design or use… Considering there are too many factors outside of [the company’s] control we cannot cover this under a warranty or repair.” 


Tesla customers complain rats ruined their car, causing thousands of dollars in damages the company won't cover.
Tesla customers complain rats ruined their car, causing thousands of dollars in damages the company won’t cover. Photo Credit: Valeriya Zankovych / Shutterstock.com


Tesla’s soy-based wiring attracts disgusting rodents to its vehicles, causing damage to the expensive electric cars with little remedy. A few external companies have created products aimed at curbing the rat infestation, though Elon Musk and his multi-billion-dollar company have done nothing to face the rats head-on.


Hammer Technologies created the RatMat, which uses an electrified surface that harmlessly shocks rodents, repelling them from vehicles. According to the company, Teslas are particularly prone to rat attacks, not only for their soy-based wiring but because Tesla uses peanut oil as a lubricant. Also, when electric cars charge, the battery becomes warm, making the innards a perfect home for rodents searching for a warm shelter.


The inventor of the RatMat, Toby Bateson, said that the company is “getting a lot of inquiries from Tesla owners because they seem to be vulnerable to the problem.” He explained that over 150 Tesla owners have contacted his company in the past year, claiming to have rodent issues.


The issue, though most prevalent in electric vehicles, is present across the auto industry. Automakers have used soy-based wiring for years, and like Tesla, don’t cover damages in their warranties. Instead, most companies claim the issue is the result of nature and is not their problem.


Though Tesla is one of the lucky companies that has escaped legal action, things could start to go downhill, fast – and rats have chewed on the brakes. Across the Internet, stories of rats destroying Tesla vehicles are popping up, including a dedicated forum on Reddit where customers go to complain about their rodent infestations.


In one Reddit post, famous YouTuber Rich Rebuilds shows the innards of his Tesla, which were chewed apart by rats. Rich explains he was lucky enough to evade the road while the rodents infested his car, especially since brake wires and other important functions were wrecked.


Other Reddit users have shared their own experiences with rodents in their Teslas, which could spell trouble for the electric car brand, now valued at $632 billion. Though Tesla has evaded court, a possible class-action suit could throw the company over the edge, creating a PR nightmare for the electric car dealer – rats would be the least of their worries since stock prices could take a major dip.


Soy-based wiring has been used in vehicles for quite some time. The problem is not only persistent but worsening as rodent infestations spread across major cities worldwide. Rats have had to alter their feeding habits due to Covid-19 restrictions keeping people home, which means less food on streets and in subways. Now rats are looking for alternative food sources. That means finding crumbs in abandoned office buildings or (apparently) cozying up in electric cars.