— A GM oil consumption lawsuit may be reaching an end concerning allegations 2010-2013 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs equipped with 2.4-liter Ecotec engines are defective.
The plaintiffs and General Motors reached a proposed settlement agreement that still needs to be certified and approved by the judge.
General Motors denies there are oil consumption problems, but agreed to settle the class action lawsuit to save on the time and expenses guaranteed in a lengthy trial.
According to the agreement, the class action will include all consumers in the U.S. who purchased or leased 2010-2013 GMC Terrain or Chevy Equinox SUVs equipped with 2.4 liter Ecotec engines.
The plaintiffs allege the SUVs are prone to excessive oil consumption and piston or engine damage, problems that caused three proposed class action lawsuits.
The three lawsuits, Berman v. General Motors, Hindsman v. General Motors and Sanchez v. General Motors all allege 2.4-liter Ecotec engines burn one quart of oil every 1,000 miles. In addition, the plaintiffs claim the SUVs suffer from fouled spark plugs, knocking sounds, timing chain damage, low oil pressure and total failures of the engines.
Much of the proposed agreement involves what GM calls "special coverage adjustments" that already exist for 2010-2012 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs. In addition, General Motors issued a technical service bulletin (TSB 15285C) in 2016 that covered 2011 Chevrolet Equinox and 2011 GMC Terrain SUVs.
The special coverage adjustments (SCAs) were created by GM to pay all or part of the cost for certain covered repairs after the express warranties expired. The SCAs only apply for work not previously reimbursed by the automaker and not reimbursed by a third-party provider.
SCA 14159 applies to 2010 Terrain and Equinox SUVs and provides free piston assembly replacements for 10 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first, after initial sale or lease.
SCA 15285 applies to 2011 SUVs and provides free piston assembly replacements for seven years and six months or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first, after initial sale or lease.
Then SCA 16118 applies to 2012 Terrain and Equinox SUVs and provides free piston assembly replacements for seven years and six months or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first, after initial sale or lease.
While those current coverage adjustments will remain, the lawsuit agreement says within 30 days of the effective settlement date, GM will offer a new SCA for 2013 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs.
"Under the New SCA, subject to its express terms, conditions and time and mileage limits, Settlement Class Members may take their Class Vehicles to authorized GM dealerships for free diagnoses and, if diagnosed as currently consuming excessive oil within New SCA time and mileage limits, receive free piston assembly replacement." - GM oil consumption lawsuit
In addition to the SCAs, the proposed settlement agreement includes reimbursements for customers who previously paid out-of-pocket for replacing the piston assemblies due to excessive oil consumption.
According to the proposed settlement terms, expenses paid by customers must have been incurred within the SCA's time and mileage limits.
"Reimbursable expenses include expenses covered explicitly by the applicable SCAs as well as certain other out-of-pocket expenses, including for the avoidance of doubt reasonable rental car charges supported by documentation showing that such charges were incurred during the period that Class Vehicles were at a dealership or repair shop for piston assembly repairs related to oil consumption, and that such expenses were incurred within SCA time and mileage limits."
Reimbursement decisions must pass approval by a special settlement administrator assigned to the case.
According to court documents, GM has agreed to pay attorney fees and expenses in the amount of $3.5 million.
The GM oil consumption lawsuit is being held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida - Berman, et al., v. General Motors, LLC.