— A Chrysler transmission class action lawsuit alleges defective Jatco JF011E transmissions are contained in the 2010-2013 Jeep Patriot, the 2010-2013 Jeep Compass and the 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber.
The Jatco JF011E continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in Chrysler vehicles allegedly cause violent jerking, juddering and shuddering.
When a driver tries to accelerate, the CVT will allegedly cause the vehicle to lag and fail to accelerate. The class action also alleges the transmissions are prone to overheat and immediately decelerate and lose power while driving.
Chrysler allegedly concealed the transmission failures and other CVT problems by issuing technical service bulletins to dealerships but not to vehicle owners.
California Plaintiff Steve Zuehlsdorf says he purchased a 2012 Jeep Compass in October 2012, a vehicle he still drives today.
Motion to Dismiss the Chrysler CVT Class Action Lawsuit
FCA argues the entire lawsuit should be tossed based on multiple points.
The automaker says since he purchased his Jeep in 2012, the plaintiff has experienced only two cases where his transmission overheated.
The first occasion was in 2014 when a Chrysler dealership repaired the problem for free after the plaintiff requested the repair. FCA says the other time a problem occurred, in 2018, the plaintiff didn't request any repairs.
Chrysler says based on the plaintiff's own arguments, his Jeep Compass operates the same today as it did when he drove it off the lot about nine years ago. This is allegedly why he continues to drive the vehicle.
He also received free repairs when he requested them in 2014, and since then has allegedly never requested any transmission repairs.
The First Jatco JF011E Transmission Incident
The plaintiff says the first time the transmission overheated was in August 2014 when the vehicle had about 20,000 miles on it. Chrysler says the plaintiff was driving uphill in 100-degree heat on an extended uphill slope on the highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The transmission temperature light illuminated and the vehicle slowed down, so he pulled the Jeep over for about 30 minutes and then completed his trip.
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) says after his trip, the plaintiff scheduled a dealer appointment and the cooler bypass valve was replaced and the transmission fluid level was adjusted. The work was performed for free, and the dealer tested the Jeep and said it was operating normally.
"After the repair was completed, Plaintiff told an FCA US customer service representative that 'everything seem[ed] fine [ ] with the vehicle' and he 'would be sure to let [the dealership] know if he experience[d] any other concern with it.' When the service representative followed up a few days later, Plaintiff reported his vehicle was 'performing well' and he would 'be sure to keep [FCA US] informed if there should be another vehicle concern.'” — FCA
Chrysler told the judge for the next four years after assuring FCA he would inform it of further concerns, the plaintiff allegedly drove his Jeep normally on numerous long trips, including regular trips to Las Vegas during "which he experienced no overheating issues."
The Second Jatco JF011E Transmission Incident
The plaintiff claims his Jeep Compass had a second overheating incident two months before he filed this lawsuit, when the vehicle was six years old with about 52,000 miles on the odometer.
Chrysler points out how the plaintiff says the second incident occurred while driving uphill on a highway in “very hot weather” while on his way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
The Compass transmission temperature warning light illuminated and the vehicle slowed down. In addition, the plaintiff says he heard a loud “whining sound” for the remainder of his trip.
But FCA argues the plaintiff completed his trip after simply pulling over and allowing the vehicle to cool down.
"Other than pulling over briefly, Plaintiff did nothing at all about this incident until he was getting ready to leave Las Vegas, at which point he stopped at a local dealership just to have a short conversation with a (unidentified) service manager." — FCA
Chrysler says the plaintiff did not have his vehicle examined by that dealership or ask for a repair, but was told by the person he spoke with the transmission is a “closed system.”
The automaker says the plaintiff concluded the transmission “can’t be worked on, period” (despite knowing the vehicle had received a successful transmission repair years earlier). The plaintiff allegedly then drove his Jeep Compass back to Los Angeles without any problems.
The automaker referred to the Jeep Compass owner's manual and user guide to show the instances of overheating is something that can happen in certain high temperature driving conditions.
Chrysler argues every owner is warned in the manual and guide about circumstances that may cause overheating, and the conditions match what the plaintiff says occurred to his vehicle.
FCA also told the judge the warranties for the 2012 Jeep Compass expired long ago, one in October 2015 and the other in October 2017.
The judge was also told by Chrysler the class action should be stopped now because all of the plaintiff's claims are time-barred.
Although the plaintiff claims his Jeep has always had some lag in acceleration since he purchased the Compass, Chrysler argues he has never mentioned the alleged lag to any dealership or mechanic. In addition, the automaker says the plaintiff has never had the Jeep diagnosed as to what is causing the alleged lag issues.
The Chrysler transmission class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California: Steve Zuehlsdorf, v. FCA US LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by Capstone Law APC.