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WHEN WATER RATS ATTACK

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“A water rat caused $3,500 damage to my brand new 4X4 and nearly ruined our trip…”

You won’t hear about this often; in fact most people I tell this story to can’t believe it even happened. I was on a camping trip with a few mates. I was driving our long-term Toyota Fortuner. My buddy Kyle brought his Jackaroo and Dan brought his LITERALLY brand-new Fortuner with 200km on the clock, with Pat riding shotgun. On the first challenging obstacle, Dan sliced one of his brand-new tyres. A bit of a bugger, but not the end of the world. No, that was yet to come.  

 

What happened?

We parked up overnight, in a beautiful spot right on Lake Lyell in NSW. While enjoying a few cold ones around the campfire that evening, we spotted what looked like a platypus in the water. Nope, it was a water rat. Big sucker too. That was enough for us to make a retreat and head to bed somewhat early. The next day, when trying to start his new (I can’t emphasise this enough) Fortuner, Dan noticed it was running really rough. Like only three cylinders were firing. Very weird. It got weirder, too. The lads noticed what looked like a nest in the engine bay, and then saw that the water rat had eaten through the wiring running to one of the injectors. Well, that that explains why it was running rough.

 

What would you do?

We had one major advantage in this scenario: We were still within phone reception and not too far from Lithgow if we needed parts. Also, these lads are pretty darn handy on the tools – which is always an advantage in a situation like this. Resource-wise, we were armed with a multi-tool, a roll of gaffer tape and a safety pin from a first aid kit. That’s all. With that array of tools we decided to try and fix the problem before calling for assistance. Check out the video below, to see how we got Dan mobile again. Not that his problems ended there, sadly…

 

What did Toyota say?

When Dan went in for his 1,000km service, naturally he wanted to tell the people at the Toyota service department about what had happened. Dan was presented with a bill for $3,500 to replace his entire wiring loom. Only two very thin-grade wires were damaged (should that be ‘eaten’?) and there was enough slack on the wiring loom to re-route them and put a new injector clip on. Which is what Dan did. However, we noticed on the report offered by Toyota that if there are any issues with injectors down the track they will not be covered by warranty. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

 

Should you go through insurance?

Dan is at a crossroads; he’s had a professional repair performed which is working perfectly fine. However, his brand new vehicle will not be covered by warranty unless he pays $3,500 to Toyota for the repair. Now, this is a weird one; and Toyota isn’t to blame. This is what is known as an Act of God. But would this incident be covered by insurance?

 

We had a chat with Kalen from Club 4X4 Insurance, to get his thoughts on the matter.

“Well, this is a bit different. I can’t say I’ve ever had this situation happening before. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be covered under our policy under the following exclusion clause: Loss or damage caused by mildew, moth, vermin, insect, domestic pets etc.”

 

“This is a pretty standard exclusion in my experience, originally geared to prevent claims being made based on deterioration and wear and tear and damage caused by the family dog. Over the years it got extended out to damage caused by animals both domestic and wild.”

 

Conclusion

The only thing you can put this down to is bad luck. On the plus side, we were able to carry out an effective bush repair and get home – so that is a win. But my mate is left with a very hefty bill after saving his guts out to buy a new 4X4. The only suggestion I have is maybe don’t park close to water if camping on a lake or river – even though naturally that is the ideal location to park, you would think. No other vehicles on this trip had any issues in this regard as we were parked closer to camp. Also, modern vehicles are so heavily reliant on electrical signals it’s a wise idea to invest in some spare clips and know how to assemble them in the event of damage. We got lucky, in a weird sort of way.

Have you ever heard of a water rat causing this much damage to a vehicle?

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