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FORD TRANSMISSION CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT VACATED

On September 13, 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated approval of the class action settlement in the case Vargas, et al. v. Ford Motor Company (D.C. 2:12-cv-08388-AB-FFM). The Appeals Court found that the settlement may not have been fair and adequate to class members, and remanded it for further review.

This settlement had provided that class members–owners of certain Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta models with transmission issues–would give up their individual lemon law and consumer fraud rights in exchange for certain consideration such as smaller cash payments or coupons toward a new purchase, and an arbitration process paid for by Ford with limited remedies.

With approval of the settlement vacated, our firm is pursuing individual claims on behalf of consumers who suffered with these defective transmissions.

The current status of the class settlement is that the federal district court will examine it more closely, and may again choose to approve it. Therefore, we recommend that consumers considering pursuing a claim make sure to investigate your legal rights without delay, as they may again disappear or be reduced by re-approval of the settlement.

2011-2016 Ford Focus and 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta vehicles built with dual-clutch transmissions prone to shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration may be affected by the class settlement.

These problems and Ford’s failure to take responsibility for them have become better known, which may increase the value of your potential claim.

If you have had these or any other problems with your vehicle, contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation today.

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Lemon Law Transmission Problems in Fiat 500X

Have you had any of the following problems in your Fiat 500X?

  • Jerking
  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Banging into gear
  • Stalling
  • Transmission failure

Your vehicle may be equipped with the same ZF 9 Speed transmission which has been the subject of class action lawsuits in other vehicles.   Class actions can both help and hurt the value of your individual claim.

But while class actions often result in coupons or small cash payments, if you have a good lemon law claim you may be entitled to receive all your money back, or more.   

The founder of our firm used to work in-house for auto makers, which can be a big advantage in these cases.  

There is a fee shifting provision in the law which allows us to take cases free of charge to you.  If you have a good case we will front the costs and our time.

We only get paid by the manufacturer if we achieve a recovery for you.  

If you think you may have a lemon, contact us today for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

 

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Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon – Lemon Law Issues

lemon Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck

We have noticed a trend in potential lemon law issues in recent model year Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks.  The current version of these mid-size pickup trucks was launched for model year 2015.

Many of these trucks have exhibited transmission problems, with the following descriptions:

Sluggish Hesitation
Will not downshift Losing ability to drive forward (reverse only)
Stuck in gear Transmission failure
Chugging

There have also been other noted problems in these trucks, especially with the power steering, engine, fuel system and exhaust system, among others.  

Additionally, there have been Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and Recalls issued which affect these concerns, and prove that GM is aware of them.  

You may have lemon law rights if you have had as few as two complaints for these issues, or for any other problems.  

Those rights survive even if you no longer have the truck.  

If you think your truck may be a lemon, contact us today for a fast, free and confidential analysis.

 

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Honda CR-V Lemon Law Issues (Engine & Transmission)

At Goldsmith West, we have noticed a trend of consumers experiencing problems in recent model year Honda CR-V models, including 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. These problems include but are not limited to problems with the engine, drivetrain and powertrain problems, loss of power, vibration, hesitation, cooling system, problems where the vehicle will not start, problems with the powertrain control module (PCM), engine knocking and stalling.  

There have also been a series of incidents of reported fuel in the oil, and odor of gas fumes inside the cabin of the vehicle. 

2018 model year in particular seems to have excess concerns about problems with gasoline in the oil tank

Attribution: ABC15 Arizona

These vehicles are also equipped with CVT transmissions, which are known to have a litany of issues, as seen in class action cases for other models. (Links) There has been at least one recall issued for this vehicle. (Link) 

There has also been a problem with the Electronic Brake Booster (EBB) system for which a technical service bulletin (TSB) was issued.

Consumers may experience the following Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs): P0300, P0301, P0302, P0304, P0172, P0297, P2187, P2583-76, and U3003-16.

 

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Lemon Problems with Jeep & Chrysler ZF 9HP Transmission

A Federal Court is considering approval of a class action settlement involving alleged Transmission Defects in certain Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) vehicles.  Affected models include 2014 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Jeep Renegade, 2015 Chrysler 200, and 2015 Ram ProMaster City.

The alleged defects include harsh or erratic shifting, clunking, hesitation, banging into gear, malfunction indicator lights, and premature wear or failure of transmission components.

Among other consideration, the settlement proposes to give cash payments or trade-in vouchers according to the following schedule:

  Number of Transmission Related Complaints  

3

4-5

6 or More

  Cash Payment  

$400

$800

$2,000 

  Trade-In Voucher Value  

$1,000

$2,000

$4,000

Depending on the circumstances, however, the same number of complaints could entitle you to all your money back under an individual lemon law claim, even if you no longer own the vehicle.  However, if you do not take specific steps to opt out of the class action, you might only receive a few hundred dollars or a voucher coupon for the same claim.  In fact, if you do not opt out, and you miss a deadline, you might get nothing.   We have seen this happen to prospective clients.  

Our firm has previous experience working on the defense side of lemon law claims, as well as working in-house for a major automaker.  We know how these cases work from every angle. Because our fees are awarded by law, you do not have to pay us for working on your case.  And if you don’t achieve a recovery, we don’t get paid.

If you feel your vehicle may be a lemon, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

UPDATE 11/20/18: It appears the settlement has been approved.   The opt out deadline is January 2, 2018.  For assistance opting out of the settlement, please contact us immediately.

 

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Nissan CVT Transmission and Lemon Law

There have been a number of class action lawsuits in Federal Courts which allege Transmission Defects in certain Nissan vehicles equipped with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT).  Affected models include certain recent model years of Nissan Sentra, Nissan Altima, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Versa, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Juke, Nissan Note, Infiniti JX35, Infiniti QX60, Our law firm has also seen this trend emerge in clients’ individual lemon law claims.

A CVT has a continuous range of gear ratios and is designed to allow the vehicle to shift gears while driving in a smooth way.  Theoretically, this design should reduce or eliminate the “shift shock” felt when a transmission shifts gears.

However, it has been alleged that Nissan’s CVTs experience sudden, unexpected shaking and violent jerking (commonly referred to as ‘juddering’ or ‘shuddering’) and that the vehicles hesitate when trying to accelerate, increasing the risk of injury or death.  Other related concerns include stalling or loss of power, illumination of the check engine light, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL (association with Diagnostic Trouble Code or DTC P0776), reduced performance due to CVT fluid temperature, and need for Transmission Control Module or TCM reprogramming.  It is further alleged that the Nissan CVT transmission may also wear down or fail prematurely, often just after expiration of the warranty.

If any of the class actions proceed to judgement or settlement, history has shown that class members may might receive compensation such as reimbursed costs, a warranty extension, or a simple cash payment or coupons based on the number of transmission complaints experienced.  

Depending on the circumstances, however, the same number of complaints could entitle you to all your money back under an individual lemon law claim, even if you no longer own the vehicle.  However, if you do not take specific steps to opt out of the class action, you might only receive a few hundred dollars or a voucher coupon for the same claim.  In fact, if you do not opt out, and you miss a deadline, you might get nothing.   We have seen this happen to prospective clients.  

Our firm has previous experience working on the defense side of lemon law claims, as well as working in-house for a major automaker.  We know how these cases work from every angle. Because our fees are awarded by law, you do not have to pay us for working on your case.  And if you don’t achieve a recovery, we don’t get paid.

If you feel your vehicle may be a lemon, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

 

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Engine Defects in Kia and Hyundai Vehicles

There have been a series of class action suits regarding an engine defect in “Theta II” engines in Kia and Hyundai vehicles.  These suits allege a defect that causes “engine sludge,” or failure of the engine to lubricate itself properly – which can lead to an engine knocking condition, loss of power, stalling, premature engine wear and eventually failure, a fire in the engine, and other problems, such as interference with power steering.  

So far, the list of vehicles alleged to be affected includes the following:

2011 Kia Optima 2011 Kia Sportage 2011 Kia Sorento 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
2012 Kia Optima 2012 Kia Sportage 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
2013 Kia Optima 2013 Kia Sportage 2013 Kia Sorento 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
2014 Kia Optima 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 Kia Sorento 2014 Hyundai Sonata 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
2015 Kia Optima 2015 Kia Sportage 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 Hyundai Sonata
2016 Kia Optima 2016 Kia Sportage 2016 Kia Sorento 2016 Hyundai Sonata

Kia and Hyundai have taken the position that the defect only affects a very small number of vehicles and is caused by a flaw in the manufacturing process that leaves metal debris in the crankshafts.  They have admitted the problem requires engine replacement, but they have continued to blame the “metal debris in manufacturing process” even while claiming the previous problems were fixed by improving the manufacturing process.

 

Our firm has seen examples of these defects, and the effect can be nasty.  Besides the problems with the engines themselves and the questionable recalls, even when performed there is reason to be concerned about dealerships performing widespread engine replacements.  Dealerships are not set up to be factories, and the delays in getting the parts also implicates the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act’s “30-day” rule.  

Remember there are important factors to consider when deciding whether to remain in or opt out of a class action, and that pursuing your own individual lemon law remedy will nearly always be worth substantially more than what you would recover as an unnamed member of a class action.   

Contact us if you have a related problem in your vehicle, or if you would like more information.

 

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CVT Transmission in Chevrolet Cruze? Not so fast.

Chevrolet was said to be considering retail distribution of a CVT (“Continuously Variable Transmission”) for the Cruze, but that news appears to be premature.   This may be a good idea. 

We’ve noted here before in these posts that CVTs and as well as other replacements of the traditional hydraulic automatic transmission have been the source of many new lemon law claims the last few years.  

These include the CVT in Nissan models such as the Altima, Sentra, Versa and Rogue.  There was also the class action involving Ford’s DPS6 powershift transmission in Focus and Fiesta models.  We have also had a number of clients report similar problems in Ford Fusion.  

Despite these transmissions’ contribution to lemon law issues, automobile manufacturers relentlessly chase sales volume, and they need these transmissions to meet their CAFE (“Corporate Average Fuel Economy”) standards.  They aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, whether the kinks are worked out or not.

 

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Lemon Law Issues: Ford Fusion

Lemon Law Issues with 2013 and later Ford Fusion, Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Ford Fusion Energi models

We have seen a variety of problems with 2013 and later model year Ford Fusion model vehicles, including Hybrid and Energi models, which have lead to lemon law claims.  

Most of these involve problems with the engine and powertrain, including the following:

  • Stalling
  • Problems Accelerating
  • Hesitation
  • Wrench Warning Light
  • Engine Fire
  • Check Engine Light
  • Clicking Noises
  • Cooling system problems
  • Oil and other fluid leaks
  • Replacement of the water pump
  • Piston Failure
  • Rough Idle
  • Transmission Failure
  • Transmission Shifting roughly
  • Transmission slipping
  • Harsh downshift
  • Slipping out of Gear
  • Transmission Leaks
  • Throttle Body Problems

We’ve also seen a variety of problems with Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Fusion Energi models including:

  • Electrical system problems
  • Premature battery death
  • Fuel Economy Problems (MPG)
  • High Voltage Battery Warranty Problems
  • 12 Volt battery problems

If you have had any of these problems, contact us for a fast, free and confidential consultation as to whether you may have a claim for compensation under the lemon law.

 

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Lemon Law Title Branded Vehicles: The Automotive Consumer Notification Act (ACNA)

reparing

What happens to lemon vehicles after they are legally considered lemons? When the manufacturer takes your vehicle back in a lemon law buyback or replacement, it will generally liquidate the remaining value in the car by selling it at auction.

Does the next owner know the car is a lemon? The answer should be yes. The Automotive Consumer Notification Act (ACNA), found at California Civil Code §1793.23, was added to the California lemon law (a.k.a. the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act), requiring the manufacturer taking the car back to permanently inscribe the title as a “lemon law buyback”, making it a lemon law title branded vehicle.

This law also requires the manufacturer to disclose in writing to the subsequent purchaser the nature of the lemon issue, the replairs performed, and that the specific lemon issue is protected by warranty for one year.

The intention of the law is to prevent “lemon laundering”, whereby a lemon vehicle is not lemon law title branded and is passed off to an unsuspecting consumer.

Effect on the Value of the Vehicle

Cars are depreciating assets as it is. A lemon car title is similar to a “salvage title” for a total loss vehicle, though it is not as devastating to the car’s value as a salvage title. Even so, it further reduces the value of your already pre-owned vehicle, even if the manufacturer can repair the lemon defect, because the lemon car title travels with the vehicle for the rest of its life.

The founder of our firm has experience in lemon law title branded vehicles. The loss in value caused by the title brand is not uniform, and it depends on the strength of the market for the vehicle as a preowned car. However, as a rule of thumb, he notes that the loss of actual cash value caused solely by “lemon law buyback” title branding is often in the range of 25%.

So, take away a quarter of the wholesale (i.e., dealer trade-in) value of a vehicle of the same make, model, model year, color, options, and mileage, and you roughly have the value of the lemon as an asset to the manufacturer after completing the buyback.

Also consider that cars depreciate by virtue of time, and that the DMV can take awhile to process branded titles. As another rule of thumb, it’s not uncommon for cars to lose as much as 1-2% of MSRP value per month just by passage of time (though this levels out over time).

When you take this into consideration, the delays in processing a lemon law buyback ultimately make the end result that much more painful for the manufacturer, whether it is because of their own stonewalling or because of title delays.

How does the ACNA affect your lemon law case?

Two factors should be considered: (1) title branding is expensive for manufacturers, and (2) the failure to title brand can be even worse. Regarding the latter, manufacturers are worried about being caught lemon laundering, as they would likely draw unwanted state, if not federal, regulatory attention, as well as fraud and other consumer claims that may indicate punitive damages.

Thus, the ACNA lurks in the background of your lemon law case, and may act both as an impetus for the manufacturer to fight the case and as impetus to settle. A skillful lemon law attorney will understand the practical effects of the ACNA and recognize how to use them to craft the best strategy for his or her client.

Contact Us Today

For more information on lemon law title branded vehicles and how the branding process works, contact Goldsmith West today for a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

 

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