Subaru named in class action lawsuit for defect in pistons, engine management system and positive crankcase ventilation in 2009-2014 Impreza WRX vehicles

 

This is a class action on behalf of owners of 2009-2014 Impreza WRX vehicles (“class vehivcles.” Subaru introduced the class engines in the United States market in late 2007 for the 2008 model year. Class engines are predisposed to premature engine failure. Class vehicles are defective with respect to improperly designed and manufactured pistons and an engine management system and PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system that subjects class engines engine to premature catastrophic engine piston ringlands failure (the “Piston Ringlands Defect”).

WRX and WRX STi engines are high performance versions of the 2.5 liter displacement EJ series engines used in other model Subaru vehicles including but not limited to the Forrester, Legacy and Outback. These performance modifications nearly doubled the horsepower for WRX and WRX STi engines over the standard base 2.5 liter engine. These performance modifications that created substantially increased power output did not include necessary internal engine modifications to prevent damage to the piston ringlands.

Inadequate class engine piston ringland durability was caused by casting the class engine pistons from hypereutectic aluminum silicon (Al-Si) alloy. While this alloy has some strength attributes over conventional cast aluminum pistons, Al-Si pistons and in particular piston ringland are more brittle. This Al-Si materials selection and cast construction method resulted in insufficient strength pistons in class engines.

Another contributing cause to class engine failure was an inadequate PCV system that allowed excessive engine crankcase oil vapors to be introduced into the engine combustion chambers thereby lowering the overall fuel/air octane mixture. This causes increased combustion forces acting on the piston through a phenomenon know as detonation. Detonation is a well-known cause of internal engine component damage particularly including piston and piston ringland failure.

Failure of class engines due to the Piston Ringland Defect results in sudden power loss and/or stalling that severely compromises the owner’s ability to maintain vehicle control. The defective class engine components and engine management system also causes sudden an catastrophic engine self-destruction as overheated internal parts seize.

The failures in the class engines due to the Piston Ringland Defect pose a serious safety issue while the vehicle is being operated since there is loss of engine power without warning and the loss of power-assisted steering and reduced braking caused by lack of engine vacuum if the engine stalls. In class vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, the drive wheels will lock and cause loss of directional stability and steering if the engine stalls and the clutch is not immediately disengaged.

Nissan named in class action lawsuit over defective continuously variable automatic transmissions in Altima vehicles

A class action complaint was filed on behalf of owners of Model Year 2013–2014 Nissan Altima vehicles (“Subject Vehicles”) which allegedly contain defective continuously variable automatic transmissions (“CVT”) that cause shuddering, hesitation, stalling, unusual noises, and ultimately, premature transmission failure. The CVTs pose a significant safety risk. When the shuddering occurs, momentum of the Subject Vehicle is suddenly lost, the rate of speed drops or the vehicle stalls, and the brake lights do not illuminate. The defect is especially dangerous because it manifests when the driver presses the accelerator. Just when the driver attempts to accelerate, nothing occurs. This is sometimes followed by an unexpected surge of power. The CVTs increase the risk that the driver will lose control and cause a collision.

When owners of Subject Vehicles seek repair of their defective transmissions, they are routinely informed that the transmission requires replacement, at a cost upwards of $3,000. With the replacement, the vehicles are then equipped with another defective CVT, and the cycle repeats.

According to the complaint, Nissan knew the CVTs were defective in this way, were prone to shuddering, hesitation, stalling, unusual noises, and eventual premature failure yet failed to disclose these material facts to Plaintiff and other Class members. Nissan misrepresented the safety risk the Subject Vehicles pose to occupants and the public. Nissan knowingly engaged in omissions of material facts and false and misleading representations regarding the performance of CVTs in the Subject Vehicles.

As a result of Nissan’s unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent conduct, Plaintiff and the other Class members received a car worth less than as represented and less than what they paid for when purchasing their Subject Vehicles.

COMPLAINT

Hyundai named in class action lawsuit over defect in powertrain

 

Plaintiff brings this action individually and on behalf of all similarly situated persons in the United States who purchased or leased 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles that were designed, manufactured, distributed, marketed, sold and leased by Defendant Hyundai Motor America.

According to the complaint, beginning in 2016, if not before, Defendant knew that the Class Vehicles contain one or more defects that cause, among other problems, significantly delayed acceleration, loss of power, or rough shifting (“Powertrain Defect”). The Powertrain Defect has been documented to occur without warning during vehicle operation and poses an extreme and unreasonable safety hazard to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Numerous Class Vehicle owners have reported a significant delay in the Class Vehicle’s response while attempting to accelerate from a stop and/or while cruising in situations that require the ability to accelerate rapidly (e.g., merging on to the highway, changing lanes, etc.). Other Class Vehicle owners have reported jerking, lurching, and/or engine revving associated with the delayed acceleration.

COMPLAINT

Hyundai named in class action lawsuit over defective engines

 

This consumer class action arises from defective Theta II engines found in hundreds of thousands of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the United States.

As alleged, the Theta II engine’s fuel injection system causes contaminants to enter the engine’s oil supply. Initial symptoms of the Defect include a knocking noise from the engine, a reduction in engine power, and engine stalling events (the “Defect”). When the level of contaminants in the oil supply sufficiently thicken the Theta II engine’s oil supply, the engine fails, leading to an immediate loss of engine power and power steering. The Defect thus creates a safety hazard for not only the vehicle’s occupants but the occupants of nearby vehicles. Countless consumer complaints to Hyundai, Kia and traffic safety authorities detail the safety risks and economic burdens of vehicles prone to total and unexpected engine failure.

The only remedy for the Defect is replacing the engine with another defective Theta II engine. Though the Defect is covered by Defendants’ written 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranties, Defendants routinely deny warranty coverage to engines consumed by the Defect by blaming the engine-killing oil sludge on inadequate maintenance or the use of aftermarket oil filters.

Between 2015 and 2017, Defendants recalled 1.5 million vehicles with Theta II engines in North America. Each recall addressed knocking noises, engine stalls, and sudden engine failures. Though the recalls cover Theta II engines manufactured over a five-year period in at least two continents, in each instance, Defendants attributed the recall to the same underlying cause: leftover metal debris in the engine from the manufacturing process.

Reports suggest that in 2016, a Hyundai engineer informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that Defendants have long been aware that the Theta II engines possess a design flaw affecting all Theta II engines. These reports are consistent with the experience of Plaintiff and countless other owners and lessees of vehicles with defective Theta II engines that have not been recalled (the “Class Vehicles”). Non-recalled Theta II engines are failing because of the Defect in numbers that in some cases exceed the failure rates of recalled vehicles.

This case seeks protection and relief for owners of the Class Vehicles for the harm they have suffered, and the safety risks they face, from Defendants’ unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices.

COMPLAINT

General Motors named in class action lawsuit over defective air conditioner in vehicles

The complaint alleges that the air conditioning unit sold in certain GM vehicles is defective resulting in system failure during normal, everyday use. According to the complaint, two defects in the system cause refrigerant to leak out. The absence of refrigerant prevents the evaporator from becoming cold, causing the system to blow hot air into the car’s passenger compartment and, in some cases, causing other parts of the system to fail.

The first defective component is the line leading from the compressor to the condenser. This line consists primarily of an aluminum tube connected to a rubber hose. On information and belief, this line can fail in two ways. First, the aluminum tube can become disconnected from the rubber hose, creating an opening in the line that can allow refrigerant to escape. Second, the aluminum tube itself has a material defect that can allow the tube to rupture, also allowing refrigerant to escape.

The second defective component in the air conditioning system of the Class Vehicles is the condenser itself. On information and belief, the original condenser has a material defect that renders it unable to withstand the day-to-day normal operation of Class Vehicles. On information and belief this defect is most likely due to: (i) the use of an inadequate material to build the condenser, (ii) the use of an insufficient amount of material in the manufacture of the condenser and/or (iii) inadequate weld.

 

The Vehicles involved in this case include:

Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, model years 2015 to date;

Chevrolet Suburban, model years 2015 to date;

GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, model years 2015 to date;

Chevrolet Tahoe, model years 2015 to date;

GMC Sierra 1500, model years 2014 to date;

GMC Sierra Heavy Duty, model years 2015/2016;

Chevrolet Silverado 1500, model years 2014 to date; and

Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty, model years 2015/2016

COMPLAINT

General Motors named in class action lawsuit over defective dashboards

 

 

This is a class action lawsuit alleging that GM’s single panel dash board installations are inherently defective, prone to crack, and create an unreasonable safety hazard

 

As alleged, all GM Vehicles have Defective Dashboards that are designed, manufactured, and/or installed in such a way that they will crack. The cracks occur in GM Vehicles stored in all environments and in substantially uniform locations and presentations on the instrument panel. GM knew all this when it marketed and sold the GM Vehicles. To this day, GM is engaged in a systematic campaign to conceal the Defective Dashboards and the related safety risks—falsely representing to customers that the cracks are merely cosmetic.

 

According to the complaint, the Defective Dashboards reduce the GM Vehicles’ value and compromise the safe deployment of the airbags. Because GM has not remedied the defects in the dashboards installed on the GM Vehicles, a customer who replaces a Defective Dashboard would simply receive another Defective Dashboard. The cost to replace the Defective Dashboard with another Defective Dashboard, including parts and labor, can exceed $2000 for Plaintiffs and class members. Worse still, GM has failed and refused to cover the necessary repair and replacement under its warranty.

As a result of GM’s practices, Plaintiffs and the other Class members have suffered injury in fact and have lost money or property, including economic damages.

Complaint

Ford named in class action over defect in driveshaft flexible coupling in 2015-2017 Ford Transit vans

The class action lawsuit against Ford is for damages caused by Ford Transit vans equipped with uniform and uniformly defective driveshaft flexible couplings manufactured, distributed, warranted, and sold/leased by Ford Motor Company and/or its related subsidiaries or affiliates (collectively, “Ford”).

The complaint claims that 2015-2017 Ford Transit vans suffer from a serious defect (the “Defect”) that results in the driveshaft flexible coupling (“flex disc”) cracking and ultimately failing, resulting in damage to the Class Vehicles and presenting a significant safety risk to Vehicle occupants.

The flex disc is a type of “universal joint” positioned between the engine (in specific, the transmission) and the driveshaft, and is used to transmit the rotational torque generated by the engine to the driveshaft, which in turn transmits it to the axles and finally the wheels, propelling the Vehicle.

The flex disc is made of flexible rubber material and is designed to allow some angular misalignment while reducing driveline vibration.  A triangular flange connecting the flex disc to the transmission is bolted on to one side of the flex disc using three of the holes; a similar triangular flange connecting the flex disc to the driveshaft is bolted on to the other side of the flex disc using the other three holes.

When the flex disc fails, it fails catastrophically. The failure causes the driveshaft violently to tear away from the transmission, which can result in severe damage surrounding Vehicle components, including brake and fuel lines, the transmission, rear end differential, torque converter, evaporation container, and other parts, mangling the driveshaft in the process. The damage to these components contributes to a dangerous loss of Vehicle control, including the loss of brakes and engine power. Further, the forward end of the driveshaft disconnecting from the transmission creates the risk that the driveshaft will “catch” on the ground beneath the Vehicle, violently forcing the driveshaft upwards which can pierce into the passenger cabin and cause the Vehicle to “pole vault,” i.e. catapult the entire Vehicle into the air.

While a Safety Recall was issued June 28, 2017, the complaint alleges that Ford does not have a permanent fix, but rather requires Class Vehicle owners to replace the flex disc “every 30,000 miles” until a permanent remedy becomes available.

As a result of Ford’s alleged misconduct, Plaintiff and Class Members were harmed and suffered actual damages, including that the Class Vehicles contain defective parts, have manifested and continue to manifest the Defect, and Ford has not provided a permanent remedy for this Defect. Furthermore, Plaintiff and Class Members have incurred, and will continue to incur, out-of-pocket unreimbursed costs and expenses relating to the Defect, including replacement parts, repair of other Vehicle systems damaged by the failure of the flex disc, and lost time and business opportunities caused by the time the Vehicles are waiting to be serviced.

Complaint

Honda named in class action lawsuit over with defective engine starting systems in Accord and Crosstour vehicles

This is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of current and former Honda vehicle owners and lessees with defective engine starting systems in model years (“MY”) 2013-15 Honda Accord and 2013-15 Honda Crosstour vehicles (the “Class Vehicles” or “Vehicles”).

The engine starter (or “starter motor”) is an essential component of a vehicle that spins the engine when the start position is engaged by the ignition system. This allows the vehicle’s engine to “start” and begin running. This action arises from Defendants’ failure, despite their longstanding knowledge of this material and manufacturing defect, to disclose to Plaintiff and other consumers that the Class Vehicles are predisposed to a starter system defect (collectively, the “Starter Defect”). This defect – which typically manifests during and shortly after the limited warranty period has expired – will inevitably cause the starter motors and batteries in the Class Vehicles to prematurely fail. Once the starter motors and batteries fail to operate correctly, the engines in the Class Vehicles will not start, leaving operators and passengers stranded.

Vehicles are rendered inoperable when the Starter Defect manifests. As alleged herein, the Class Members’ vehicles completely fail to start due to the Starter Defect since the vehicle’s engine cannot properly turn over in a manner as required to start the vehicle. This causes the operator and passengers to become stranded and often requires the vehicle to be towed to the nearest service provider, all at the consumer’s expense.

The complaint further claims that not only did Honda actively conceal the fact that particular components within the starter system were not assembled and manufactured correctly (and require costly repairs to fix), they did not reveal that the existence of this defect would diminish the intrinsic and resale value of the Class Vehicles.

COMPLAINT

Netgear named in class action lawsuit over a defect in CM700 cable modem

This is a class action brought on behalf of purchasers of the NETGEAR CM700 cable modem (the “Modem”) sold by Defendant NETGEAR, Inc. (“Netgear”). A cable modem is a device that allows cable subscribers to connect to broadband Internet service.

As alleged in the complaint, since its launch in 2016, Netgear marketed the Modem as a reliable high-end modem that is “ideal for the fastest Internet speed service plans.” However, Netgear failed to disclose that the Modem contains a serious defect that prevents it from operating properly. News reports and customer complaints since the release of the Modem indicate that it suffers from high spikes in network latency—delays in data communication over the network—that degrades users’ Internet connectivity.

Plaintiff purchased a Modem for personal use and suffered network latency, an experience shared by many purchasers of the Modem. Despite this widespread defect, Netgear has not announced a recall of the affected model, or otherwise offered to repair or replace it.

By shipping Modems with this defect, Netgear sold consumer goods that were substantially below the quality generally available in the market, were not fit for the for the Internet connectivity for which they were generally used, and were not adequately packaged and labeled.

Complaint

Honda named in class action lawsuit alleging defect in the HandsFreeLink™ system

Honda introduced the Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink™ system in its 2004 model year Acura vehicles. Honda promotes Acura as its luxury brand, offering advanced technology and high performance. The HandsFreeLink™ system was initially offered as a luxury add-on but soon became a standard feature of Acura models. The hands-free interface of the HandsFreeLink™ allows drivers to use their phones without using their hands. Drivers “pair” a smartphone with the car, allowing calls to be made using a microphone and the speakers in the car, and enabling the phone to receive voice commands such as “call home” or “call my office” through the car’s system to dial certain numbers or places.

As alleged, the HandsFreeLink™ system is defective. It becomes locked into the “on” position even if not in use and remains “on” even after the car’s ignition switch is turned off. Once locked “on,” the HandsFreeLink™ unit exerts a continuous, substantial, and (in Honda’s words) “parasitic” electric drain on the vehicle’s electric system. This drain depletes and consumes batteries, and leads to premature failure of other essential electric components—such as alternators, which are forced to compensate for the failing batteries. Acura owners are left with cars that will not reliably start, electrical systems prone to fail even while the car is being driven, and essential electrical parts such as batteries and alternators that must be serviced and replaced.

The complaint contends that Honda has known about this defect in the HandsFreeLink™ system since at least June 2005 but has not warned its customers. As a result, Plaintiff and class members have had to pay out of pocket to replace drained batteries and other electrical components, unaware that the real problem is the HandsFreeLink™ system. By the time customers discover the defect resides in the HandsFreeLink™ system (if they ever do), the warranty period is typically expired. Thus, Plaintiff and class members are left to choose between replacing the costly HandsFreeLink™ unit—with no guarantee that the replacement HandsFreeLink™ unit will not also be defective— or paying to disconnect their HandsFreeLink™ system and losing the use of this feature entirely.

Honda continues to sell and lease vehicles with HandsFreeLink™ without disclosing the defect to consumers. 5. Plaintiff seeks relief for himself and a class of all other consumers who purchased or leased Acura vehicles equipped with a HandsFreeLink™ system under California law or, in the alternative, a class of Acura owners in Washington, to redress the harm they have suffered as a result of this defective technology. Plaintiff requests an award of damages and appropriate equitable relief, including an order enjoining Honda from continuing to sell vehicles with the defective HandsFreeLink™ system and requiring Honda to disclose the defect to current Acura owners and repair their vehicles.