After putting the proposed deal on hold due to concerns raised by several objectors, a judge has given final approval to a settlement that ends class action litigation over excessive oil consumption problems affecting Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs equipped with 2.4-liter Ecotec engines. United States District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg’s signed order of final approval, submitted November 15, can be read here.
All persons within the United States who purchased or leased, at any time before May 16, 2019, a new retail or used model year 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013 Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain vehicle equipped with 2.4 liter Ecotec engines.
Excluded from the settlement are all model year 2013 Equinox and Terrain vehicles manufactured by General Motors after the automaker changed its design for and production of the engines, as well as those who previously released the company from claims related to the oil consumption issue.
What You Need to Know
If you happen to be one of the consumers who’s followed this case from its inception, you've reached the finish line. Discovery, preliminary settlement approval, numerous objections…and now the deal has received the final green light. Below is the meat and potatoes of the settlement, the brass tacks, all the information you need to know about the final deal. Let’s get into it.
If you’re eligible to file a claim, you will more than likely receive a new, revised notice about the settlement in the mail, along with a claim form. Owners and lessees of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain vehicles, including those who no longer own the cars, will receive direct notice of the settlement. Keep an eye on your mailbox, as these notices are being sent to all eligible claimants in the chain of title. (Read this to find out how they'll get your information.)
To file a claim, you will need to fill out and mail the claim form you receive along with your settlement notice.
All eligible individuals will get an opportunity to submit claims for reimbursement for previously incurred expenses. These claims can be filed for items such as the cost of replacing piston assemblies due to excessive oil consumption and rental car costs. These expenses must have been incurred during the specific timing and mileage limitations, outlined here.
Even if you paid for repairs years ago and no longer own a covered Equinox or Terrain, as long as you did so within the SCA timing and mileage limits, you can still file a claim for reimbursement.
Even though the previous SCA program’s deadlines are long expired, current and former owners of 2010-2012 Equinox and Terrain vehicles who have not already submitted claims for reimbursement will be able to do so. Similarly, anyone who bought a 2010-2012 Equinox or Terrain before or after initial notice of the SCA program went out—and therefore may not have known about it—will be given an opportunity to file a claim.
Engine replacements are covered by the settlementso long as they can be traced directly to excessive oil consumption caused by defective piston rings and occurred within the timing and mileage limitations set by the SCAs. Judge Rosenberg made clear on page 15 of the final approval order, which can be found at the bottom of this post, that those “who suffered the greatest damage—engine replacement—are covered by the settlement.”
The settlement includes—“as it always has,” the documents clarify—reimbursement for repairs and/or replacement of engine components that had to be fixed solely due to excessive oil consumption caused by piston ring wear. The settlement document states that claim forms will include clarifying language regarding this reimbursement.
There is no cap on the amount of expenses you may claim for piston assembly replacement and rental car costs.
Those who have already opted out of the settlement will be sent new, separate notices and claim forms. These will call to attention the new clarifying language mentioned above. More than 1,700 people who opted out will receive the new forms and have a renewed chance to participate in the settlement.
The SCA for 2013 Equinox and Terrain models allows owners to present their vehicles to authorized GM dealerships for free diagnoses. Should a GM dealership diagnose a 2013 vehicle as currently consuming excessive oil, the owner will be able to receive free piston assembly replacement.
The deadline to submit claims is 120 days after the date on the notices.
Odds and Ends
The settlement covers more than 1.64 million drivers.
With regard to the objections raised by those who experienced symptoms of excessive oil consumption after the relevant SCA timing and mileage limit expired, Judge Rosenberg wrote that while it is true that not everyone’s engine issues will fall within the SCAs’ parameters, “the law recognizes that manufacturers must draw a line somewhere when it comes to express warranties, and the SCAs are, for all intents and purposes, extended warranties.”
Similarly, with regard to objectors who argued that the settlement does not compensate class members for each and every harm alleged in the initial lawsuits, such as diminished vehicle value, Judge Rosenberg ruled that the fairness of the settlement “does not depend on whether the result is equivalent to a victory at trial.”
Although the settlement, including notice and administration costs, is worth at least $42 million, the true amount of the deal is uncapped. Actual payouts to class members could very well exceed $42 million.
What If I Still Have Questions?
You can contact the settlement administrator for this case - Analytics Consulting, LLC. They have set up a special hotline for questions regarding this settlement; the number is 1-888-970-0698.
Catch up on ClassAction.org’s previous coverage of this case: