Mercedes Benz USA finds itself as the defendant in a proposed class action that alleges the automaker has failed to accurately and comprehensively identify all vehicle parts that should be classified as “high-cost emissions warranty parts” under the requirements of California’s seven-year, 70,000-mile Emissions Warranty. According to the 36-page suit, Mercedes has instead “unilaterally limited” the auto parts that should be covered under California’s Emissions Warranty “in order to minimize” the company’s exposure to warranty claims, limiting such for emissions parts to only three years and 50,000 miles.
With regard to the requirements of Section 2035 of the CCR, a “warranted part” for 1990 and subsequent model year vehicles is considered “any part installed on a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine by the vehicle or engine manufacturer, or installed in a warranty repair, which affects any regulated emission from a motor vehicle or engine” subject to California emission standards, according to the complaint. Summarily, any vehicle part that affects emissions or can cause an on-board diagnostic indicator light to illuminate is considered a warranted part that should have a 50,000-mile California emissions warranty, the case says.
Warranted parts that are considered “high-priced,” however, must come with a seven-year, 70,000-mile emissions warranty covering the part itself, the labor cost of diagnosing the part failure and the cost of replacement, the complaint states, adding that all such parts must be identified accurately to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Mercedes Benz, the lawsuit alleges, has systematically kept from drivers and the CARB accurately written documents identifying all seven-year, 70,000-mile California Emissions Warranty Parts. While the automaker classifies some parts as “high-priced,” the list is incomplete, according to the lawsuit:
“[Mercedes Benz] has engaged in a systematic business practice of omitting from the MBUSA warranty booklet provided to owners and lessees at the time of sale or lease, and in resources provided by MBUSA to its dealerships both at the time of sale or lease and afterwards, all of the parts that should be identified as ‘high-priced’ warranted parts and that should be covered under the 7-year 70,000-mile California Emissions Warranty. MBUSA classifies some of the ‘high-priced’ warranted parts as being parts covered under the 7-year 70,000-mile California Emissions Warranty, but not all of the high-priced warranted parts that should be covered under the 7-year 70,000-mile California Emissions Warranty.”
The net effect of this conduct, the case continues, is a higher repair bill for consumers.
“As a result, California consumers have to pay out of pocket for these repairs which, by operation of California law, should be paid for by [Mercedes Benz],” the complaint reads.
Initially filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the lawsuit has been removed to California’s Northern District.