A rat ate its way into a Waringstown woman’s Mercedes Benz causing around £2,000 worth of damage.
And now the £40k car is sitting in the driveway at her home, unusable as rodents gnawed through electrical wiring.
James Matchett said just after the new year his wife, Diane, came running into the house from her car screaming: “Something has eaten the seatbelt.”
When he investigated he found a hole in the seat behind the seatbelt.
On further investigation he discovered that substantial damage had been done to the seats.
“When we took the side lining away I would best describe the image as a burst pillow,” he said.
Mr Matchett said he was vacuuming the boot when a large rat ran past him and raced through a plastic grill, onto the rear wheel before scarpering down the driveway.
“On removing the boot lining on the opposite side of the boot, again there is an identical plastic grill behind the other rear light assembly which was also gnawed through. Again there was foam, debris and chewed wires,” said Mr Matchett who believes there was more than one rat chewing up the Merc.
He believes the rats were able to access the rear boot via the exhaust leading them to the rear wheel arch, then gnaw their way through a flimsy plastic grill located behind the rear light assembly and giving them free run of the boot space.
“Unfortunately the damage can go unnoticed until it’s too late as most of the damage is concealed by the boot lining.
“The seat bolsters on either side have been eaten through. Furthermore the car electrics were badly chewed through which has taken days to trace and repair.”
He said his wife is now too frightened to drive the car.
Mr Matchett urged other Merc owners to be wary of the plastic components as they may not be ‘rodent-proof’.
Although the car is only two years old with just 15,000 miles, he said he just wants it repaired and sold.
Mr Matchett said Mercedes described the incident as due to ‘outside influence and therefore not covered by warranty’, however did offer him a five per cent discount on parts.
They advised him they are happy to arrange for the dealership to collect the car and provide a quote for the repair, the full cost for which he is liable.
A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz said: “This must be an unfortunate and upsetting situation for Mr Matchett and while we do offer an extremely comprehensive warranty, it doesn’t cover damage caused by external influences, such as wildlife. Unfortunately, our technical experts haven’t been given access to inspect the car so it’s difficult for us to comment further and our recommendation is that Mr Matchett contacts his insurance company.”