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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 09-13-2008, 10:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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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   #7
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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   #8
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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.

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Old 09-14-2008, 08:28 AM   #9
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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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   #10
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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   #11
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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   #12
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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+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   #13
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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 09-14-2008, 02:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

By the same token, I should be compensated for the Vue not having as high of gas mileage as other cars. Other cars having engines that can get 40 mpg, why shouldn't mine? It's not like this information was hidden. If you google "Vue reviews" the first thing that comes up is edmunds reviewing them. And sure enough if you look in the section about the previous Vue model it talks about the CVT not being reliable long term. So you obviously didn't even take the time to read a review on the car. Ignorance is no excuse, it is a failure on your part.

I don't intend to drive my Vue for 75k, and while mine does have over 80k on it now, only 20k of them are mine. And I got an extended warranty to make sure that if anything went wrong on a higher mileage vehicle like mine I'd be covered. Saturn extended the warranty to 75k miles and never let anyone who was withing a reasonable amount of time be hung out to dry. They actually extended the warranty past the reasonable expectations on the 4 speed which was 36k miles. The warranty is there to give you a reasonable expectation on when stuff is going to start breaking.

The only people I feel bad for are the people who bought the first model year of them and had no way of finding out about the issues. But they also had time to get out before the boat sank. I know I would have when I started to hear reports of problems.

The resale on Vues suck anyways. Honestly, how much would YOU pay for a used 4 cylinder SUV with little or no amenities? Even if it was only 2 years old, it's still a car they'll sell for maybe $10k. I got offered $6k for mine when I was looking at a certain TBSS, I laughed at him and started to walk out and before I could get out of the chair he went up $2k. I've gotten offers for $12k from some used dealers, when the car is not worth near that much. It's all bargaining (and what they have into the other vehicle).

MikeC, how do you know your car was worth more than 6-8k? Hopes and dreams? KBB? There's more factors at play than you're seeing for a used car's value. If you come in with a cheap SUV looking to trade in for another cheap SUV that's used, they're not going to make any money. So why would they want to sell you a car if they're not going to make money, they have to spend time reconditioning your car, paying salesmen, etc., and then they have to now sell your car. It's very reasonable to say that your car was only worth 6k on a used Element. Did you honestly think they were going to give you like 10k on a car that is maybe 13k?

Your sentiments of "I hope I get something out of this" is the problem here. Everyone wants a hand-out. So because you didn't research that the transmission had problems, now everyone who buys a GM car has to suffer with higher prices. I may be cruel, but at least I'm not a fool. It's not anyone but your own fault for not reading reviews that talked about this.

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Old 09-15-2008, 06:24 AM   #15
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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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.
I don't think that FGCA or anyone else is trying to be cruel. If you bought your VUE new and experienced VTi failure, it sounds that you will now be compensated. I'm glad for that in cases where someone bought it NEW, or barely used, since there was no history for the VTi from which to begin researching. For those who bought their VTi-equipped VUE used, especially over the 75k-mile mark, it's tough to find sympathy. There was very little secret about the failure rate of these transmissions.

For a majority of us, automobiles are very big purchases. There aren't too many other items, especially those that we depend on, that cost as much as cars do. They are important, complex, and sometimes fragile devices that DESERVE to have research done prior to purchase. It's tough to hear excuses from some folks about how they were suddenly surprised to hear about lousy VTis, conveniently right after they bought them! I don't know the specifics of your particular purchase, but when info is as available as it is now (especially with the internet), there is very little excuse for those who bought a used VTi VUE.

Otherwise, I'm glad that those who are affected by this directly (i.e. bought it prior to a significant history of the VTi and have actually EXPERIENCED VTi failure) have a place to turn.

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Old 09-15-2008, 08:02 PM   #16
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

I couldn't believe it - my wife's brother went out and bought a 2004 VUE without asking me about it. I saw it today - a 4 cyl VTI. I almost puked. I told him all about it but I don't think he cared. It's really a nice one with 33K miles. I also said I hope it's one of the later 'improved' ones, and I told him to get it serviced if the dealership says it needs a fluid change or anything. Jeez.

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Old 09-15-2008, 09:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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I couldn't believe it - my wife's brother went out and bought a 2004 VUE without asking me about it. I saw it today - a 4 cyl VTI. I almost puked. I told him all about it but I don't think he cared. It's really a nice one with 33K miles. I also said I hope it's one of the later 'improved' ones, and I told him to get it serviced if the dealership says it needs a fluid change or anything. Jeez.
PT Barnum was right.

Unfortunately, most folks just don't bother researching a car before they buy it. Little does your brother in law know that the instant that VTI fails, his car is effectively worthless (unless he can get GM to pay him as a result of this "frivolous" lawsuit).

Cheers,

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Old 09-15-2008, 09:51 PM   #18
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

The fact that GM had to delay the VTi launch back in fall '01 due to problems already creeping up with these transaxles leaves GM more on the hook for such failures IMO. There have also been anecdotal statements on some GM related message boards that Hydra-Matic had been testing VTi-type transaxles years before VTi was released and had terrible durability problems with the units then as now.

The last real problem child trannies (late 80's/early 90's Ford AXOD, Chrysler A604) also did not cost nearly $6K parts alone for a replacement unit.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:32 PM   #19
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

The TBSS has a transmission failure rate of roughly 50%.

tackepj, I couldn't have said it any better myself (and I tried, haha). Seriously, a car is a big investment for 98% of people. You should research them. If you don't you're setting yourself up for issues, and it's your own fault.

1Saxman, I hope your brother-in-law makes out OK. At the very least you should convince him he NEEDS an extended warranty after the 5 year on the VTI is up.

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Old 10-02-2008, 12:43 AM   #20
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Default Re: GM settles suit for faulty Saturn trans - GM states claims are "widely exaggerate

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The TBSS has a transmission failure rate of roughly 50%.

tackepj, I couldn't have said it any better myself (and I tried, haha). Seriously, a car is a big investment for 98% of people. You should research them. If you don't you're setting yourself up for issues, and it's your own fault.

1Saxman, I hope your brother-in-law makes out OK. At the very least you should convince him he NEEDS an extended warranty after the 5 year on the VTI is up.
I agree with everything you have said thus far, here's why:

About a year ago I was looking for a good price on a Saturn vue. I was at the dealership getting maintanence done on my then current L wagon. In thier lot they had a 2003 Vue VTI, and it looked really nice. I knew about the transmission issues they were having, but I did not do any real research into it - I ended up IMPULSE buying it within the next 20 minutes. Over the course of the next 2 weeks I did a ton of research into the VTI and became extremely stress out over it. Thankfully my Mom was looking into buying a new Saturn Outlook so I was able to take advantage of the 30 day exchange policy. Also, in that 2 weeks I had located another Vue, but a AWD V6 that was 2 YEARS YOUNGER! for only $800 more!! from a non-saturn used dealer. Now I'm the proud owner of a 2005 AWD V6 with a ton of options for only $13800CA.

In any case, I was rather dissapointed in myself for making an on the spot desicion in the first place, and allowing a Saturn salesman to convince me that everything would be fine becasue the VTI only fails in eastern areas and there were very few issues on the west coast??? But I was lucky, I got out of it before it was to late. But I would NOT have blamed Saturn, as every company makes mistakes from time to time (the VTI was a mistake), and they did what they were financialy able to to help thier customers. Unfortunatly some thought that was not enough. It was my own ignorence that made me buy that vehicle.


Edward.

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