— Honda engines that rattle at cold starts caused a class action lawsuit that alleges the variable timing control (VTC) actuators are defective and cause "significant" safety hazards.
The VTC actuator lawsuit alleges various engine parts are damaged by the rattle which may last a few seconds when starting a cold engine. Those parts include the timing chain and timing chain tensioners.
And Honda owners are also allegedly faced with paying towing charges because the engines rattle.
Honda argues the VTC actuator rattle is nothing more than a “fleeting noise.” The automaker denies the vehicles are defective in any way and insists the vehicles are not a safety hazard.
Included in the VTC actuator class action lawsuit are 2012 Honda Accord, 2012-2014 Honda CR-V and the 2012-2015 Honda Crosstour vehicles.
What began as a nationwide Honda class action lawsuit has been whittled down to specific customers in California and Illinois.
California plaintiff Mary Quackenbush purchased a new 2012 Honda CR-V in 2012, but eight years later the engine would rattle at a cold start when the vehicle had nearly 96,000 miles on it.
California plaintiff Anne Pellettieri purchased a new 2014 Honda CR-V in 2014 and asserts she heard the engine rattle at a cold start a few years later. However, she never had her Honda inspected by a mechanic.
And Illinois plaintiff Marissa Feeney purchased a used 2014 CR-V in 2019 with 93,974 miles on the odometer. The plaintiff contends she heard the engine rattle at a cold start and the CR-V hesitated on acceleration.
The VTC actuator was replaced, but the plaintiff says she still sometimes hears the engine rattle.
The three plaintiffs claim Honda "injured" them by not warning them about variable valve timing control actuator 14310-R44-A01.
According to the VTC actuator class action lawsuit, the engine rattle at cold start is caused by premature disengagement of a stopper pin located within the actuator.
The lawsuit says Honda discovered the VTC actuator problem in 2008 after receiving complaints of engine rattle at cold starts. The automaker opened an investigation that lasted eight years, released several countermeasures to fix the rattle and finally decided to simply replace the VTC actuators with new ones.
According to technical service bulletin (TSB) 09-010 issued years ago to Honda dealers:
TSB Title: "Engine Rattles at Cold Start-Up"
- Symptom: At cold start-up, the engine rattles loudly for about 2 seconds.
- Possible Causes: The variable valve timing control (VTC) actuator is defective.
- Corrective Action: Replace the VTC actuator.
However, the plaintiffs filed their VTC actuator lawsuit in August 2020 by asserting they were injured by Honda and placed in a "significant safety hazard" by the engine rattle.
The plaintiffs filed their first amended lawsuit in November 2020 and moved for class action certification in October 2021.
Honda VTC Actuator Lawsuit: Three Certified Classes
First, Mary Quackenbush represents the “California Repair Class” which consists of all consumers who purchased a new or used class vehicle equipped with a VTC actuator from a Honda dealer in California, and who paid to have their VTC actuator repaired by a Honda dealer in California.
Second, Marissa Feeney represents the “Illinois Repair Class” which consists of all consumers who purchased a new or used class vehicle equipped with a VTC actuator from an authorized dealer in Illinois, and who paid to have their VTC actuator repaired by a Honda dealer in Illinois.
And third, Anne Pellettieri represents the “Illinois New and Used Purchaser Class” which includes current owners of both new and used class vehicles who purchased their vehicles from Honda dealers in Illinois, and former owners of the same who resold (or traded in) to a Honda dealer in Illinois.
The most recent court decision further dismissed certain claims, but Judge William Alsup says a jury should decide if the VTC actuator engine rattle causes "physical safety hazards."
The trial is scheduled for July 24, 2023.
The Honda VTC actuator class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California: Quackenbush, et al., v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc., et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by Greenstone Law APC, and Glancy Prongay & Murray LLP.