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Old 09-12-2008, 07:52 PM   #1
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Default GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerated"

GM settles lawsuit over faulty Saturn transmissions

Chrissie Thompson
Automotive News
September 12, 2008 - 12:01 am ET
UPDATED: 9/12/08 11:57 a.m. EDT

General Motors has settled a class-action lawsuit involving early transmission failures in the more than 90,000 Saturn vehicles carrying its VTi continuously variable transmission.

The settlement, which has preliminary approval from a federal judge, could cost GM more than $100 million, said Rob Schmeider, a plaintiffs' lawyer from the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River, Ill.

GM attorney Joe Lines called the plaintiffs lawyer's estimates "wildly exaggerated."

He said GM's costs will range between $10 million and $20 million.

The settlement applies to owners of 2002 to 2005 Saturn Vues or 2003 or 2004 Saturn Ions with failed VTi transmissions, which cost around $4,000 to $5,000 to replace, Schmeider said. The percentage of individual plaintiffs' expenses that will be paid depends on the mileage of the vehicle when the transmission failed, and whether owners purchased the vehicle new or used.

If the judge grants approval, all people listed on qualifying vehicle titles will receive claim forms for past and future expenses related to failure of the VTi transmission before vehicles reach 125,000 miles. The settlement applies to VTis that fail within eight years of the model year.

U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb has scheduled a hearing Feb. 17 in Sacramento, Calif., to weigh final approval of the settlement.

GM felt its defense could win the case, but knew the company faced a four-year legal battle and so decided to settle, Lines said.


"We just thought that it was best to put the customers first and have a program that, through this claims process, will hopefully satisfy customers and enhance customer satisfaction rather than spend four years and millions of dollars on lawyers and court fees," Lines said.

Lines declined to give a specific failure rate for the transmissions, saying the rate was "much higher than we liked" and varied depending on the cars' environments.

"The vehicles that were produced first did not operate as we intended," Lines said. "The ones that were produced at the end of the production run were much, much better."


The VTi transmission, which Saturn discontinued after 2005, uses a steel belt and adjustable pulleys to keep the engine running in its most efficient rpm range. GM touted it as 7 percent more fuel efficient than the automatic transmissions Saturn was producing at the time.

The transmission, designed by GM Powertrain, was made in an Adam Opel AG plant in Szentgotthard, Hungary.

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Old 09-12-2008, 09:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Thanks BobbyP! Awesome! Now I can keep my Vue for a few more years

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Old 09-13-2008, 09:08 AM   #3
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Well, at least it's something and GM has essentially admitted that the VTi's failed more frequently than tranditional transmissions.

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Old 09-13-2008, 07:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Saturn missed a great opportunity to show the auto industry what world class customer service could have been by properly supporting these VUE owners in their time of need.

Saturn could have came out of this situation smelling like a rose. Instead they turned their back on these VUE owners and forced them to file a class action law suit.

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Old 09-13-2008, 08:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

I still disagree. I don't see where Saturn did anything illegal, and this lawsuit is frivolous. Saturn builds a car and warranties it to last a certain time, outside of that, it's not their problem. So when buying a car, you should look at it as only lasting that long. Any time after that is bonus. Saturn covered this transmission fully under its warranty, and even extended the warranty to 75k miles. Sure, they build a part that doesn't last as long as some would like, but they build one that will last as long as they warrantied, or at the very least would replace it.

Seriously, these class action lawsuits (and the people filing them) are a big reason this country is messed up. It's not a super reliable car, you should have done your research before you bought it, or bought the car with a warranty as long as you wanted to keep it. It's YOUR fault for not doing your homework, or buying a warranty on it. not Saturn's fault.

That said, it's sad that its cheaper for Saturn to settle than to have to go through with the actual case. It just makes Saturn look bad, and pads the wallets of the attorneys involved. Lawyers-1 Society-0

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Old 09-14-2008, 08:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Quote:
Originally Posted by FGCA_XRL View Post
I still disagree. I don't see where Saturn did anything illegal, and this lawsuit is frivolous. Saturn builds a car and warranties it to last a certain time, outside of that, it's not their problem. So when buying a car, you should look at it as only lasting that long. Any time after that is bonus. Saturn covered this transmission fully under its warranty, and even extended the warranty to 75k miles. Sure, they build a part that doesn't last as long as some would like, but they build one that will last as long as they warrantied, or at the very least would replace it.

Seriously, these class action lawsuits (and the people filing them) are a big reason this country is messed up. It's not a super reliable car, you should have done your research before you bought it, or bought the car with a warranty as long as you wanted to keep it. It's YOUR fault for not doing your homework, or buying a warranty on it. not Saturn's fault.

That said, it's sad that its cheaper for Saturn to settle than to have to go through with the actual case. It just makes Saturn look bad, and pads the wallets of the attorneys involved. Lawyers-1 Society-0
+1

This reminds me of the government's impending bailout of those who foolishly took ARM mortgages to buy a property they could not otherwise afford, including those who lied about their qualifications. Now we all will pay for their stupidity/lies.

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Old 09-14-2008, 09:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

I'm behind FGCA and saxman here. Saturn did everything to fix/replace these parts under warranty, and even extended the warranty coverage. There were even some cases where dealers still covered a car as being under warranty when it was actually expired

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Old 09-14-2008, 10:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

After my VTi crapped out the first time, I tried to trade it in for a used Honda Element. The dealer laughed at me and offered me 6K on a trade in. After the VTi went out the second time, the Saturn dealer gave me 8K trade in, which was still below what it was worth, on an 06 V6 FWD Vue.

Now, my local dealer has been good to me. But I feel that the amount of time and money that I lost as a result of these problems to a vehicle less than two year old is ridiculous. I hope that I can get something out of this deal.

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Old 09-14-2008, 12:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
+1

This reminds me of the government's impending bailout of those who foolishly took ARM mortgages to buy a property they could not otherwise afford, including those who lied about their qualifications. Now we all will pay for their stupidity/lies.
Why don't you see the fact that covering these horrible transmissions to just 75k a problem? Does that mean you consider the usefulness of your VUE to be ended at 75k?

Many of these transmissions failed 2-3 times before they reach 75k. These buyers bought these VUE's with the expectation that Saturn had a transmission that would at least last the same as any other car.

Instead they got the transmission from hell, that would leave them in financial dire straits when it died and the Saturn dealer held their hand out wanting $4000.

I still disagree because of it's defective design had multiple and premature failures. With failures so bad GM had to stop using the unit. They should extend the warranty to the same expectations as their comparable 4-speed automatic.

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Old 09-14-2008, 02:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Wow, I am incredibly disappointed in how some of you have reacted in this topic. I am new to the forum. I was eagerly looking forward to conversing with other Saturn and Vue owners but some of your responses in this topic have left a bad taste in my mouth because of how unusually cruel you have been. I COMPLETELY disagree with FGCA_XRL when he/she states “It's not a super reliable car, you should have done your research before you bought it, or bought the car with a warranty as long as you wanted to keep it. It's YOUR fault for not doing your homework, or buying a warranty on it. not Saturn's fault.” Yeah, my bad for not researching Saturn. I wanted to buy American. My mistake. I didn’t even know about car forums until my sister told me about them AFTER I bought the Vue. I thought by 2004 vehicle manufacturers had technology down well enough that I didn’t have to worry about my transmission lasting only a couple of years. When I spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle, I expect major components on that vehicle to last more than 2-3 years. They did on my Honda, a brand I will most likely go back to for my next vehicle. Fortunately, I bought an extended warranty. I do on all my cars and I am especially glad that I did this time around. I agree with MikeC in that “I hope that I can get something out of this deal” as well.

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Old 09-13-2008, 10:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyP View Post
Saturn missed a great opportunity to show the auto industry what world class customer service could have been by properly supporting these VUE owners in their time of need.

Saturn could have came out of this situation smelling like a rose. Instead they turned their back on these VUE owners and forced them to file a class action law suit.

+1.... This left a BAD taste in alot of owners mouths. Not to mention how many others stayed away from Saturn as a result. This a PR nightmare that could have been avoided.

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Old 09-14-2008, 07:33 AM   #12
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

These faulty transmissions also caused the value of all vues to decline.
I didn't buy a vti but did consider it based on the way saturn had treated owners in the past. Saturn's handling of the problem will affect my purchasing decisions for a long time.

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Old 09-14-2008, 07:49 AM   #13
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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These faulty transmissions also caused the value of all vues to decline.
I didn't buy a vti but did consider it based on the way saturn had treated owners in the past. Saturn's handling of the problem will affect my purchasing decisions for a long time.
Agreed. It is going to cost them a LOT more money in lost sales than if they had just been up front with owners and settled the problem. Instead, they dug in their heels and waited to be dragged into court. Either way, GM pays, but now they've also got the bad PR to deal with when they COULD have used that opportunity to turn it into a positive PR event by doing the right thing.

Cheers,

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