Four consumers have put their names on a proposed class action lawsuit in which they allege more than a dozen vehicles made by General Motors are equipped with a defective Hydra-Matic 8L90 or 8L45 transmission.
The case says that GM’s Hydra-Matic eight-speed 8L90 and 8L45 automatic transmissions were designed to constantly monitor the amount of power an engine produces and the speed at which it’s traveling. Based on these power and speed readings, the case explains, the transmissions engage and disengage gears accordingly using pressurized hydraulic fluid. With eight gears and close gear ratios, GM’s Hydra-Matic transmissions, the suit says, were touted as being able to better match the engine speed and travel velocity of a vehicle to maximize fuel economy.
More gears within a transmission means more frequent shifting, which the case says can be unpleasant and unsafe if such shifts are not executed quickly and smoothly. The 97-page lawsuit out of Michigan alleges the eight-speed 8L90 and 8L45 automatic transmissions are defective in that they cause the following vehicle models to “shudder, jerk, suddenly accelerate, fail to accelerate, fail to downshift” and delay stopping despite the brakes being applied:
2015- 2019 Chevy Silverado
2017-2019 Chevy Colorado
2015-2019 Chevy Corvette
2016-2019 Chevy Camaro
2015-2017 Cadillac Escalade
2015-2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV
2016-2019 Cadillac ATS
2016-2019 Cadillac ATS-V
2016-2019 Cadillac CTS
2016-2019 Cadillac CTS-V
2016-2019 Cadillac CT6
2015-2019 GMC Sierra
2015-2019 GMC Yukon
2015-2019 GMC Yukon XL
2017-2019 GMC Canyon
The lawsuit pins the apparent transmission flaws on “internal issues” allegedly stemming from defective torque converters. According to the lawsuit, the 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions at issue suffer from excessive friction and generally premature wear and tear between their internal components, which can cause metal shavings to grind off and then circulate through a transmission’s hydraulic system and gears.
General Motors has known about the supposed defect since at least 2014 yet has failed to adequately remedy the problem, the lawsuit alleges. Worse, GM, according to the suit, has “tried to convince consumers” that the defect’s symptoms such as unexpected surging and acceleration were normal, evident in many consumer complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which drivers note that GM or a dealership service technician told them the symptoms of the defect were normal.
“Despite these complaints,” the lawsuit states, “GM has never fully fixed the defective transmissions and never ceased selling vehicles equipped with them.”
Of the reported fixes GM rolled out for the alleged transmission defect, the case says they were “ineffective,” and consisted of “patchwork software updates, parts replacements, and other insufficient procedures” that simply “don’t work.” More importantly, they were expensive to proposed class members, often costing hundreds if not thousands, per the complaint.
“In short, GM has been unable to fix Plaintiffs’ defective transmissions despite multiple attempts, and once their warranties expire, Plaintiffs will be forced to pay out of pocket for future repair efforts as a result of the defect,” the complaint reads. “Meanwhile, they are stuck with Class Vehicles that are both unsafe and unpleasant to drive due to their defective transmissions.”
The lawsuit looks to certify a nationwide class, as well as state-specific classes in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, of consumers who bought or leased any of the vehicle models listed above.