Devastated Yorkshire man forced to sell his 'dream' campervan after vegan wires 'eaten by rats'
Ian Newbold, 52, claims the vegan materials used by the German car manufacturer have left his beloved VW California vulnerable to rodents. After he was served with a £1,500 bill for repairs, he's now looking to sell the mobile home - fearing he'll have to fork out for further fixes.
Rodents are notorious for chewing through vehicle wires and in some extreme cases, drivers have found rats nests in their engines.
A VW spokesperson denied it was due to the plant-based wiring, insisting: "There are no products in the wiring or pipe coating which would actively attract animals".
Ian, who spent decades waiting to purchase the van - valued at around £60,000 - says his ambitions have been dashed as the issue isn't covered by his warranty. He's now warned other drivers that their vehicles could also be affected by similar issues if they are fitted with animal-friendly wiring.
He 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. 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."
Ian, from Leeds, said he'd finally got the money together for his campervan in 2021. He said he had "absolutely loved" going on regular trips with his wife and two children.
Howver, around two two-and-a-half weeks ago, when he took it to Harrogate to visit his mother-in-law, he said it "went into 'limp' mode" and wouldn't go faster than 30mph.
Ian called the AA who got him to a VW dealership in Leeds, and mechanics found the van's mangled wires on the underside of the vehicle were to blame. When he talked to members of staff at the branch, he shockingly claims that they told him the incident was caused by rodents.
He said: "The guy at reception said 'rats will have eaten through that'."
Ian said he later went to independent garages where mechanics said that "this has been happening for years" as manufacturers were using plant-based materials.
They told him these were more environmentally friendly but attracted rodents and foxes.
Ian added: "A local VW trader said that they are getting loads."
Mr Newbold said he frequently contacted VW to highlight the matter and request they pay for the repair work - but felt they "were washing their hands of it".
He then "reluctantly" agreed to pay nearly £1,500 to have the van repaired but is now looking to sell it, saying he was "gutted" at the spiralling costs. He has urged other campervan owners to look into the matter and called on VW to examine vehicles affected by the issue - in case of knock-on effects.
A VW spokesperson said: "We can confirm there are no products in the wiring or pipe coating which would actively attract animals. 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."