$102.6 million awarded for GM oil consumption defect
On October 3, 2022, a federal jury in California ordered General Motors (GM) to pay over $102.6 million to about 38,000 GM owners and lessees. The initial lawsuit, filed in 2016, accused the Michigan-based automaker of selling three different classes of GM vehicles with severe engine defects. This 2016 lawsuit claims that the problem goes back to 2010.
Plaintiffs from California, North Carolina, and Idaho claimed that GM hid a significant engine defect that caused excessive oil consumption in some GM vehicle models. It affects GM’s Vortex 5.3-liter V8 engine, which had been installed in thousands of GM trucks and SUVs.
Excessive oil consumption is a serious issue because it results in the car stalling and presents internal engine damage or premature engine breakdowns. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs state that GM knew about this defect in the piston rings that could result in irregular oil consumption. The jury ultimately found GM responsible and awarded about $2,700 to each 38,000 class member included in the class-action lawsuit.
GM is challenging the 2022 settlement. They contend that the jury’s verdict was not supported by evidence from the trial. While it’s uncertain whether GM will prevail on its motion, similar motions made in other states have been dismissed.
If you are an owner of one of the affected vehicles, it’s still unclear how your rights are affected by the jury’s verdict. This is because the notice was not mailed out to all class members before the jury decided the verdict.
On September 19, 2022, a separate class action suit also involving GM oil consumption began in San Francisco. Even though the court has already certified the class action lawsuit, notice to class members may not be sent out until later this year or at the end of a jury trial.
The complaint in the class action suit takes issue with Generation IV Vortec 5300 engines. It accuses Generation IV Vortec engines of consuming abnormally high quantities of oil, which exceed known industry standards and a reasonable amount of oil consumption. The suit also alleges that this excessive oil consumption gives rise to other issues, notably low oil levels, insufficient lubricity, and internal engine component damage.
Affected GM Vehicles Oil Consumption Defect
The affected vehicles are specific models ranging from 2010-2014. Notably, the affected GM vehicles contain defective LC9 Generation, IV 5.3 Liter, V8 Vortec 5300 engines with active fuel management (collectively labeled “Generation IV Vortec 5300 Engines”) and manufactured on or after February 10, 2011.
A list of examples includes:
- 2010-14 Chevrolet Avalanche
- 2010-14 Chevrolet Silverado
- 2010-14 Chevrolet Suburban
- 2010-14 Chevrolet Tahoe
- 2010-14 GMC Sierra
- 2010-14 GMC Yukon
- 2010-14 GMC Yukon XL
Current laws for California owners require GM to either repurchase the vehicle or provide significant compensation to the owner or lessee for experiencing this defect. Other state and federal laws may also protect owners and lessees of the affected cars included in the class action lawsuit.
2014-2017 Chevrolet Equinox cars and 2014-2017 GMC Terrain SUVs are not included in the recent GMC oil consumption lawsuit payout. These vehicles actually contain a different engine, specifically a 2.4-L Ecotec. However, these models also suffer from similar excessive oil consumption plaguing their older models and make. GM has not issued an official recall for excessive oil consumption in these models.
What if I Own a Class Action Lawsuit Vehicle?
In a class action lawsuit, a group of class action members is represented by the lawyers who initially brought forth the complaint. The court certifies the class action lawsuit, which means you receive notice if you are a class member. You can proceed with the case or opt-out of the class by a specific date.
Choosing whether to stay with the class action lawsuit or opt-out impacts your rights. If the plaintiff wins the case, as it did on October 3, 2022, you receive the relief that a judge or jury awards. However, if you proceed as a class member and lose, you may be unable to litigate any claims. In other words, you are bound by the decision in the class action suit.
Class action suits can be beneficial for people who don’t have much at stake. It requires little effort to participate. If the larger class wins, then you win, too. However, if you have suffered significant damages, it may be better to pursue an individual claim.
Once the case settles (with court approval), as a class member, you may receive a class notice listing your options. Usually, options include doing nothing, receiving nothing, and still being bound by the settlement. Or, submit a claim form if requested, getting the settled relief and bound by the payment. Lastly, you can opt-out of the claim and pursue your own case.
What if My Car is Not Listed in the GM Class Action Suit?
Under California lemon laws, consumers are protected when purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t perform as expected. Even if your car is not listed as part of the class action lawsuit and you are located in California, you may bring forward a lemon law claim against General Motors.
In California, lemons are cars that have severe manufacturing defects that affect the car’s safety, value, and use. Vehicles with engine problems, stalling, and excessive oil consumption may very well be considered a lemon under state and federal laws.
California lemon laws protect consumers from the following related defects:
- Check engine light
- Engine misfire
- Engine failure
- Excessive oil consumption
- Fluid leaks
- Strange engine noise
Qualifying “lemons” must be repurchased. A buyback can mean a large cash refund and your loan or lease paid off. This means you’d receive what you’ve already paid for the vehicle, plus monthly payments, down payments, tax, finance charges, license, and registration. The refund could put you in the position you were in before you purchased the car.
Having an experienced attorney assist you with options for holding the manufacturer accountable can improve your odds. Our Lemon Law attorneys at Conn Law, PC, have the skill and knowledge necessary to help you. You can reach our attorneys at Conn Law, PC, by calling: (415) 417-2780 or using our contact page to get a free consultation.