— A Ford Focus EVAP purge valve lawsuit is hanging by a thread as Ford filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the judge dismissed all the claims except one.
Plaintiff Jon Rivera filed the lawsuit on behalf of current and former owners of 2012-2015 Ford Focus cars that were allegedly sold with defective evaporative emission control (EVAP) systems.
The EVAP is used to limit fuel emissions produced in the fuel tank and keep those emissions from entering the atmosphere. The Focus is made so that vapors emitting from the fuel tank travel to a canister containing charcoal that absorbs the fuel vapor for storage purposes. When the car is running, the fuel vapors stored in the canister are funneled to the engine to be purged.
The EVAP purge valve regulates how much fuel vapor enters the engine by opening or closing as needed. An electronically-operated solenoid controlled by the car’s computer determines when the purge valve should allow fuel vapors to enter the engine.
Typically the solenoid opens the purge valve when the Focus is running and fully warmed up, and when the engine is off the purge valve is shut, meaning no fuel vapors should enter the engine. When the purge valve becomes stuck in the open position, which is what the plaintiff says happens, suction is created when the car’s engine is running.
This causes raw fuel to be sucked through the EVAP canister through the purge valve and directly into the engine. This raw fuel then allegedly causes the engines in the cars to hesitate and stall while driving.
Some Focus owners report a loss of engine power while driving more than 45 mph and Ford technicians have allegedly determined the EVAP purge valves have caused gas tanks to collapse due to raw fuel quickly leaving the tank.
In May 2013, Rivera purchased a new 2013 Ford Focus SE and about three years later the Focus started experiencing erratic idling. Rivera also noticed the fuel gauge was erratic, with fuel levels changing from a quarter of a tank full to three quarters full in an instant.
A Ford technician allegedly told Rivera the fuel vapor valve, fuel tank and fuel pump needed to be replaced. After being quoted a repair cost of $1,927.50, Rivera was told the repairs would not be covered under the terms of Ford’s warranties.
Rivera then went to a different dealer and told them he wanted the car repaired under warranty, but the dealership denied the request.
Rivera says he called Ford directly and requested a repair under warranty and after declining his request, Ford told Rivera he could decline paying for repairs and wait to see if Ford decided to issue a recall on the purge valves. Rivera finally paid $226.14 to have his purge valve fixed, but has not driven the Focus because he believes the car isn't safe to drive.
Rivera alleges that Ford issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) to dealerships in March 2015 regarding inaccurate fuel gauge and distance-until-empty readings in the cars. In the TSB, Ford told dealers to replace the purge valve, the evaporative emission canister, the fuel tank and/or the fuel pump module if the consumer complained of an inaccurate fuel gauge or inaccurate distance-until-empty reading.
The plaintiff says Ford should fix the EVAP systems under one of the warranties that comes with the cars. Each Focus has a new vehicle limited warranty, a powertrain warranty, an emissions defect warranty and an emissions performance warranty. Under the new vehicle limited warranty, Ford agrees to repair defects reported within the earlier of 3 years or 36,000 miles.
Under the powertrain warranty, Ford agrees to repair defects affecting various powertrain components within the earlier of 5 years or 60,000 miles.
In addition, federal law requires vehicle manufacturers to supply a minimum 2-year or 24,000-mile emissions defect warranty which covers any covered parts that fail to function due to manufacturing errors, and a 2-year or 24,000-mile emissions performance warranty, which covers repairs due to a failed emissions test.
Finally, manufacturers must also issue an 8-year or 80,000-mile emissions defect warranty on certain emission system parts.
Ford argues the 8-year or 80,000-mile emission defect warranty on certain emission system parts and the 5-year or 60,000-mile warranty on certain powertrain components are not applicable. The 8-year or 80,000-mile warranty is only applicable to repairs of the catalytic converter, the electronic emissions control unit and onboard emissions diagnostic devices.
Ford says the terms do not list the purge valves among the covered parts, nor is the valve listed in the components covered by the 5-year or 60,000-mile warranty.
By the end of the day, Ford won dismissal of all but one claim. The judge dismissed Rivera’s claims for breach of express warranty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment and fraud. Rivera himself withdrew his claim for violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
The judge allowed the one remaining claim for violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act to proceed.
The Ford Focus EVAP purge valve lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan - Jon Rivera, et. al., v. Ford Motor Company.
The plaintiff is represented by the Miller Law Firm.
CarComplaints.com has owner-reported complaints about Ford Focus cars you can read here.