Traditionally, electrical wiring has been insulated by being coated with plastics – the multi-color wire insulation you see on most electrical wiring comes from petroleum-based plastics. Hyundai decided to change this by moving in a new direction (and so apparently did Kia, Toyota, Honda, and Subaru).
Hyundai decided to change their vehicle wiring harness insulation to a soy-based “bioplastic”. This new soy-based material not only costs less to produce but functions just as well as regular plastics when it comes to electrical insulation, however, it is biodegradable – it will decompose in a landfill.
Unfortunately, it turned out that rats and mice discovered the new soy-based insulation – they found it tasty and also a great nesting material. As a result, many Hyundai owners found new issues with their otherwise reliable vehicles: dash lights coming on, no start problems, sub-system shutting down, pretty much anything that relies on electricity sent through the wiring harness could misbehave.
Hyundai Motor America Inc. refused to warranty the wiring, and worse, the repairs were made with the identical eco-friendly insulated wiring, resulting in multiple repairs at owners’ expense. A lawsuit was brought against Hyundai, but before it could come to judgment, it was voluntarily dismissed at the request of the plaintiff.
We don’t know what the future holds for “bioplastics”, but many car manufacturers are experimenting with their use. While the bioplastics reduce greenhouse gases associated with petroleum-based plastics, we have to deal with the unanticipated side effects – electrical problems due to hungry rodents.
So one day if your Hyundai’s electrical system misbehaves, call Pat’s Garage – we have a cat on duty