A proposed GM class action lawsuit filed by Beasley Allen on behalf of the owners of two 2013 Chevy Silverado pickup trucks alleges the automaker knowingly sold several trucks and SUVs with a defective oil system that promotes engine failure.

The complaint, filed Nov. 22, aims to represent all Ohio owners of model-year 2010-2014 Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles.

The GM class action’s lead plaintiffs, Ohio contractor Airko Inc. and Lisa Mae Jennings, allege that the Generation IV Vortec 5300 Engines in these GM vehicles have defective piston rings that allow oil to escape the crankcase. The “active fuel management” system in the engines sprays the piston rings excessively, damaging them and causing oil to enter the combustion chamber and other parts of the engine.

The oil overflow then accumulates or burns, forming a carbon buildup that can cover the spark plugs and prevent them from properly functioning.

On top of the piston problem, the oil monitoring systems in the affected vehicles fail to alert drivers to the oil level because it doesn’t measure oil volume or quality directly. Instead, the system monitors other engine conditions and calculates oil consumption, allowing drivers to operate their vehicles without adequate oil, the complaint alleges.

The oil pressure gauge also fails to warn drivers until the engines have far exceeded the point of being “critically starved,” further compounding engine damage, the complaint alleges.

According to the proposed GM class action, General Motors knew of the alleged defect before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2009. The new incarnation of the company continued to sell vehicles with the defective engines until 2014, the year it redesigned the engine to correct all of the engine’s defects and deficiencies.

Despite its knowledge of the engine problems, as evidenced by the “extraordinary” number of complaints it received and its eventual engine redesign, GM never warned or provided relief to the owners of the older models, the proposed class action alleges.

The lead plaintiffs seek unspecified damages from GM for violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and for breach of expressed and implied warranty, fraudulent omission, and unjust enrichment.

“Materially identical claims” against GM for economic losses have advanced in California, where proposed class actions have already been certified, Adam J. Levitt of DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC, which is also representing the plaintiffs, told Law 360.

Beasley Allen handles a variety of class action litigation for plaintiffs nationwide. Consumer protection issues include cases that address economic losses. These types of claims are often handled in class action litigation, which involves joining a large number of people together in consolidated litigation against a company or other entity whose actions resulted in financial harm to the consumer. We are currently handling a number of class action lawsuits involving defective auto products and security failures that led to data breaches. For more information for these types of claims, contact Clay Barnett or Leslie Pescia, lawyers in our Consumer Fraud Section.

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