$102.6 Million Verdict in GM Engine Defect Class Action Lawsuit

Detroit, Michigan, USA - March 30, 2010: The towers of the Detroit Renaissance Center, the world headquarters of the General Motors Corporation concept

A California federal jury recently awarded $102.6 million in a class action to consumers affected by an engine defect in certain vehicles manufactured by General Motors. The jury found that the manufacturer concealed an engine defect in thousands of vehicles that could cause excessive oil consumption resulting in engine damage and premature breakdown. As a result of the trial verdict, each of the 38,000 class members will receive $2,700.

What Was the Defect in the General Motors Vehicles?

The GM engine defect class action, Siqueiros v. General Motors LLC, 16-cv-07244-EMC, was filed in the Northern District of California in 2016 regarding certain GM vehicles produced between 2010 and 2014. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, internal documents at GM showed that the company had been made aware about a defect in the engine’s piston rings that caused the vehicles to consume too much oil. Due to the oil leaking to other parts of the engine, damage and premature engine failure could result.

In 2010, GM made a recommendation to its dealerships that they clean the pistons of the affected vehicles. While that solution proved not to be effective, GM’s engineers suggested that the piston ring design should be modified. Although GM made changes to its design in 2011, the oil consumption issues were ongoing until GM ceased production of the faulty engine in 2014.

Specifically, the jury found in the multi-state class action that not only did GM violate the breach of implied warranty of merchantability for California and North Carolina plaintiffs — but it also violated parts of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act.

What Vehicles Are Affected by the GM Engine Defect?

The vehicles affected by the GM engine defect include specific vehicles model years 2010-2014 equipped with GM’s flawed LC9 Generation IV 5.3 Liter V8 Vortec 5300 engines that come with Active Fuel Management. These vehicles, manufactured on or after February 10, 2011, include the following:

  • Chevrolet Avalanche, 2010-2014
  • Chevrolet Silverado, 2010-2014
  • Chevrolet Suburban, 2010-2014
  • Chevrolet Tahoe, 2010-2014
  • GMC Sierra, 2010-2014
  • GMC Yukon, 2010-2014
  • GMC Yukon XL, 2010-2014

Although GM did not issue a recall as a result of the engine defect, it did release several Technical Service Bulletins concerning the previous generation Vortec engine.

Do General Motors Vehicles Have Other Defects?

The engine defect isn’t the only problem consumers have experienced in GM vehicles. Significantly, GM vehicle owners have noted a wide variety of issues in various makes and models in recent years — including faulty ignition switches, transmission issues, defective seat belts, brake problems, and flawed airbags. GM has issued a number of recalls in recent years in connection with seat belt issues, loss of power steering assist, leaky fuel tanks, and countless other problems.

GM also recalled millions of vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags. However, the most notable defect to impact GM vehicles in recent years may be what consumers refer to as the “Chevy Shake.” This problem occurs when Chevrolet, Cadillac, Camaro, Corvette, or GMC vehicles shake or wobble violently when they are driven at a speed of more than 35 miles per hour. According to class action lawsuits filed regarding the nonconformity, transmission issues cause these vehicles to shudder and jerk.

When is a General Motors Vehicle a Lemon?

Just because your GM vehicle is subject to a recall or has been named in a class action lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean it is a lemon. To qualify as a lemon vehicle in California and obtain the replacement or refund you deserve from the manufacturer, there are stringent criteria that must be met. First, the vehicle must have been purchased in the state of California. Secondly, it must still be under the original manufacturer’s warranty — and fail to conform to it.

Importantly, a consumer must provide the manufacturer with a reasonable opportunity to repair the defective vehicle before filing a lemon law lawsuit. Typically, four repair attempts is considered reasonable by courts — but only two may be necessary if the problem could result in bodily harm or fatality to the driver, their passengers, or others on the road. A vehicle might also qualify as a lemon if it was in the repair shop for a period of 30 days or more and the defect has not been remedied.

California law presumes a vehicle is a lemon if the nonconformity was discovered within the first 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery or within the first 18,000 miles driven. The lemon law presumption can make it even easier for a consumer to hold the manufacturer accountable for selling them a defective vehicle.

Contact an Experienced Southern California Lemon Law Attorney

If you purchased a General Motors vehicle that failed to conform to its warranty, you may be entitled to pursue a legal remedy. An experienced lemon law attorney can explain your rights and discuss the best course of action. The California Lemon Law attorneys at the Ledbetter Law Firm are committed to providing clients with high-quality legal counsel and knowledgeable representation for their lemon law claims — and securing the maximum compensation available to them.

The Ledbetter Law Firm helps clients throughout Southern California who have purchased lemon vehicles in obtaining the refund or replacement they deserve from the manufacturer. With offices located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 878-0067 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.