A proposed class action alleges the continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in certain Mitsubishi vehicle models is defective and poses a significant safety risk.
The 72-page case in California says the apparent CVT defect can cause an affected vehicle to shudder, surge, jerk, delay acceleration or fail to accelerate, and ultimately leads to catastrophic transmission failure. The defect itself, the lawsuit alleges, stems from slippage of the CVT belt and subsequent contamination of a CVT’s hydraulic pressure circuit and other internal components, in addition to the miscalibration of the CVT control unit and use of an inadequate CVT cooling system.
When a driver attempts to accelerate, the apparent CVT defect will cause “sudden, unexpected shaking and violent jerking,” the case claims. Further, the vehicle will also lag or delay when a driver attempts to accelerate, creating unsafe and unpredictable acceleration, the suit says. An affected vehicle will also exhibit a hard deceleration or “clunk” when a driver either slows down or accelerates at low speeds, according to the complaint. Other symptoms of the alleged CVT defect include Mitsubishi reaching unusually high revolutions per minute (RPMs) or emitting a “loud whining” once a driver has achieved speed, the suit adds.
Per the case, the effects of the alleged defect pose a significant safety hazard to drivers and their passengers:
“For example, turning left across traffic in a vehicle with delayed and unpredictable acceleration is plainly unsafe. In addition, these conditions can make it difficult to safely change lanes, merge into traffic, turn, accelerate from stop light/sign, and accelerate onto highways or freeways.”
Vehicles that the lawsuit claims to be affected by the CVT defect include:
2014-2017 Mitsubishi Lancer;
2014-Present Mitsubishi Outlander;
2014-Present Mitsubishi Outlander Sport;
2014-Present Mitsubishi Mirage; and/or
2018-Present Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
The suit relays that a CVT is a type of automatic transmission that uses two variable-diameter pulleys with a steel belt between them to change speed, instead of a gearbox and clutch system. Rather than relying on the fixed gear ratios of a traditional automatic transmission, the pulleys in a CVT can adjust their width to make the belt turn faster or slower depending on a vehicle’s speed and the torque needed, the case explains. In theory, the suit says, a CVT chooses the gear ratio optimum for driving conditions while allegedly providing more efficient power delivery and better fuel economy.
The lawsuit alleges defendants Mitsubishi Motors North America and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. have known since at least 2014 that the CVTs found in the above-listed vehicle models would require frequent repair and replacement, and that replacement transmissions would be “equally as defective as the originals.” Mitsubishi is also alleged to have undertaken measures to conceal the CVT problems from drivers, including by instructing dealers to tell consumers that their vehicles are operating normally or as intended when they are clearly not, the suit says.
“This is a common practice in the automotive industry, particularly with transmission-related issues,” the case claims. “By denying the existence of a defect, manufacturers can play on the consumers’ lack of technical expertise and avoid implementing potentially costly fixes for years, or at least until the vehicles are out of warranty.”
The lawsuit looks to represent all persons and entities in the United States who purchased or leased any of the Mitsubishi vehicle models listed on this page.
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