Report: General Motors Agrees to Pay Saturn Owners for Continuously Variable Transmission Defects

The Sacramento Bee reported earlier this month that GM will pay owners of Saturn Ions and Vues equipped with continuously variable transmissions. "The class is composed of all United States residents who own or have owned a 2002 through 2005 model year Saturn Vue, new or used, equipped with a Vti transmission or a 2003 through 2004 model year Ion, new or used, equipped with a VTi transmission," wrote the newspaper. "Under the terms of the proposed agreement, General Motors is committed to reimbursing eligible current or former owners for repairs, car rentals, towing and trade-in losses relating to a VTi transmission." The paper says that 8,525 new Ions and Vues with CVT/VTi transmissions were sold in California during that period.

General Motors Corp. has agreed to pay an estimated $90 million or more to "tens of thousands" of motorists in all 50 states for expenses they incurred as a result of defective transmissions in more than 90,000 Saturn economy cars. The agreement by the manufacturing giant, if ultimately approved by a Sacramento federal judge, would resolve a class-action lawsuit targeting certain models of four-cylinder Saturn Vues and Ions. They are equipped with "VTi" transmissions. Unlike a conventional automatic transmission, which uses traditional gears to shift at a few fixed points, it is a "continuously variable" transmission that has a belt and pulley system to shift between gears. According to the suit's complaint, filed 11 months ago, the system makes the transmission "exceptionally prone to premature failure." U. S. District Judge William B. Shubb gave preliminary approval last week to the proposed agreement submitted to him by attorneys for General Motors and potential class members. Once the claim forms have gone out to potential class members and returned to the company, and each claimant's eligibility has been determined, the judge will hold a Feb. 17 hearing and issue a final ruling.

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