Honda Reaches Class Action Settlement over Defective Automobiles

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on Honda’s most recent class action settlement, which was filed in March 2012 and recently concluded. Plaintiffs in this case alleged that the automaker sold nearly 1.60 million vehicles that excessively burned oil and required repeated spark plug repairs.

The settlement applies to all consumers in the United States who purchased or leased the following vehicles: the 2012 Crosstour, 2009-2013 Pilot, 2008-2013 Odyssey, 2008-2012 Accord, and 2010-2011 Accord Crosstour. All vehicles must be equipped with six-cylinder engines and variable cylinder management to be part of the class, and Accord vehicle owners with four-cylinder engines are excluded.

The original plaintiffs, Vince Eagen and Alex Soto, filed the complaint alleging that the Hondas contained systematic design defects which caused oil to enter the engine’s combustion chamber. This defect inevitably cased the vehicles’ spark plugs to degrade and engines to malfunction. Eagen and Soto also argued that Honda knew of this defect and fraudulently hid it from consumers.

Indeed, hundreds of Honda drivers reported problems with spark plugs and engines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – over 130 complaints over the 2008 Honda Accord by itself. Eventually Honda issued a technical service notice, which was only sent to technicians, informing them that they should check for the oil defect in affected vehicles they inspect. The vehicles, however, were never recalled.

In court Honda denied that it concealed the defects from consumers even despite the technician notification. The company claimed it was normal for a powertrain (referring to the group of components that generate power) to burn a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Instead of covering warranties for the consumers who filed complaints, the automaker merely told them to remember to check their oil levels every time they filled up the gas tank.

Eagen specifically claimed that he had to add at least a quart of oil to his car every month and had to replace the spark plugs twice due to oil burning in the cylinders, all within 55,000 miles. Likewise, Soto claimed that he often noticed carbon buildup in his exhaust pipes, which is a clear indication that oil is burning in the cylinders.

Not only is this a problem for the drivers and families of those specific vehicles, but experts assert that engines that burn oil like this are not permitted to be on the roads due to the severity of carbon emissions. Simply put, the vehicles are too dirty; most cars can run for 10,000 miles before requiring an oil change.

The settlement terms require Honda to extend the powertrain warranty for up to eight years after the consumer bought or leased the affected vehicle. The last automaker to face litigation from similar defects was Mazda, whose RX-8 vehicles were burning oil at extremely high rates. Unlike Honda, Mazda confronted the issues head-on, fixing all the vehicles even if they did not immediately show signs of defectiveness.

Honda attempted to force arbitration in this class action, however, that motion was denied when the judge ruled Honda was a third-party non-signatory to the vehicles’ contracts. The final fairness hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2014. A PDF of the settlement notice may be found here.

Another defective automobile class settlement was recently approved in California concerning BMW’s Mini Cooper cars. Plaintiffs in this case alleged the automaker knowingly hid problems with the vehicles’ transmission, which caused thousands of consumers to seek repairs and replacements. Like Honda, BMW issued notice of the defect to BMW dealerships, however failed to notify consumers. According to the terms of the settlement, Mini Coop owners could be eligible to receive up to $9,000 for repairs.

Auto accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have over two decades of experience working with victims of car accidents caused by defective or recalled automobiles. We understand the complexities of working with insurance companies and negligent drivers, and have the resources to guide you through the process of filing a claim. Contact one of our skilled car accident attorneys today for a free legal consultation.

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