Possible Class Action lawsuit against GM

bernse

Diamond Member
Aug 29, 2000
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From HERE
Lawsuits grow against GM
Light-truck owners seek class actions on engine noise
February 21, 2004
BY JOCELYN PARKER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
The number of class actions sought against General Motors Corp. over an alleged defect in some light truck engines has grown in recent months, a sign that the issue is gaining steam, legal experts say.
Since October, at least six suits have been filed in courts throughout the country, including one in Michigan and two in Oklahoma. The plaintiffs claim that loud, irritating knocking noises in engines have slashed the value of their vehicles and that GM refuses to fix the problem.
Some owners also allege the defect causes the engines in some cases to use more than twice the amount of oil they should between oil changes, a problem they also say diminishes the value of the trucks.
GM has said it is aware of the knocking but contends the noises won't shorten the lives of the engines. The company plans to fight the lawsuits, which it says are baseless.
But the spread of lawsuits "could be indicative that there is an awareness of the problem throughout the country," said Larry Dubin, a law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.
A lawyer representing one of the Oklahoma plaintiffs is petitioning a panel of federal district judges in Washington, D.C., to get the cases consolidated and sent to a court in Oklahoma. The panel could combine the cases for pretrial matters. It is expected to make a decision in late March. GM also requested the cases be consolidated and moved to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
If the cases are consolidated, there's a good chance they will be granted class action status, say lawyers involved in the cases. The Free Press reported in November that several owners of GM's most expensive light trucks, including the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Silverado, were individually suing the company over the noise. Lawyers said thousands of vehicles, most from the 1999 to 2002 model years, have the problem. GM quietly bought back dozens of those vehicles, they say.
Suits claim GM misled public
The first suit was filed in October in a state court in Oklahoma City but later was moved to federal court.
In November lawyers representing a Florida couple and a Michigan man filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Cases seeking class action also exist in California, Georgia and Massachusetts, lawyers say.
The suits accuse GM of fraud, breach of contract and negligence. They claim that even though GM knew about the noise, the company didn't tell consumers about the problem before the vehicles were sold. And when consumers noticed the problem and tried to get it fixed, GM told them it was normal, the suits claim.
"GM knew, in the course of doing business, that they put out some bad product," said attorney William Federman, who filed the first class action on behalf of Oklahoma resident Troy Smith. "We're hoping that GM will stand by its product and make it right. We're not just going away."
Federman is petitioning the judicial panel to have all the cases consolidated and moved to Oklahoma. He said it makes the most sense for the cases to be consolidated there because that's where the first suit was filed.
The engine problem known as piston slap is caused when there's too much space between the piston and the cylinder wall. The extra clearance results in a greater amount of rocking in the cylinder, which causes the noise.
GM said the problem surfaced when it moved to a new family of engines, but said it does not affect engine performance and that it was corrected in mid-2002.
But customers argue that the problem lowers the value of their vehicle when they try to sell it. Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor for Kelley Blue Book,said a knocking engine could lower the value of a vehicle by $4,000 to $6,000 at trade-in.
GM stands by its claim and said it will fight the suits. "We are prepared to vigorously defend these allegations," said spokeswoman Debbie Frakes. "The subsequent lawsuits are copycat lawsuits that we view as baseless."
GM seen settling
Even though GM says it's prepared to fight the cases, it's possible they won't make it to trial, legal experts say.
"A class action is not good publicity," said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University. "GM does want its customers to be happy. If the class is certified, it will probably be settled."
The suits still could pose a problem for GM because the automaker has been trying to improve its quality and image.
In May, GM kicked off an unusual advertising campaign, Road to Redemption, in which it acknowledged past quality issues as a way to show its improvements.
 

bernse

Diamond Member
Aug 29, 2000
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I'll give this a bit of a <bump> but thats it. I find it quite interesting as the 5.3 is the workhorse motor for their light pickups and the Avalanche. This could be a very costly deal for GM as its so common.
 

amnesiac

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
15,781
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Crap, 1999-2002 only. If they included 1995 into the suit I'd be all over that.

(Sold my 1995 Jimmy in 1999 but still sore over how poorly I was treated by GM and how unreliable it was)
 

GoodRevrnd

Diamond Member
Dec 27, 2001
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hmmm... I have a 2000 jimmy

I think I hear the knocking sound but you can't ever hear it inside the car, and can usually only hear it if you pop the hood. I don't really get what the big deal is (cept for the oil thing, tho i don't have that problem)... are we going to file a class action against jeep because everything on the interior rattles after a while?

edit: maybe i have a diff knocking sound, mine is more of a click almost...
 

MrDudeMan

Lifer
Jan 15, 2001
15,069
92
91
Originally posted by: bernse
Well, piston slap is not normal. Espescially on a "new" vehicle.

actually, in some high octane vehicles, if you put low grade gas in it, you will get a faint knocking. it is rather annoying.
 

bernse

Diamond Member
Aug 29, 2000
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That's different though, this isn't an octane ping or detonation. It's a manufacturing defect.
 

MrDudeMan

Lifer
Jan 15, 2001
15,069
92
91
Originally posted by: bernse
That's different though, this isn't an octane ping or detonation. It's a manufacturing defect.

i know. i was just throwing in my .02 :)
 

MrDudeMan

Lifer
Jan 15, 2001
15,069
92
91
Originally posted by: GoodRevrnd
hmmm... I have a 2000 jimmy

I think I hear the knocking sound but you can't ever hear it inside the car, and can usually only hear it if you pop the hood. I don't really get what the big deal is (cept for the oil thing, tho i don't have that problem)... are we going to file a class action against jeep because everything on the interior rattles after a while?

edit: maybe i have a diff knocking sound, mine is more of a click almost...

dont confuse it with the operation of the valves. sometimes they make a noise like that, but it isnt detrimental to engine quality/life.