— A GMC Sierra headlight lawsuit is working its way through the long process of allegations and dismissal requests in a California courtroom.
The plaintiffs allege 2014-2015 GMC Sierra 1500, 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD and 2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD trucks “were sold with inadequate headlights which do not illuminate the road well enough for safe night driving.”
According to the proposed class-action lawsuit, the dim headlights don't give drivers enough time to react to other vehicles, pedestrians or objects.
According to the lawsuit, government regulations do not require headlights to be effective at any certain distance as the only regulation concerns the power of the bulb itself and the height of the headlight from the road surface. In other words, automakers are permitted to self-certify the bulbs meet this requirement.
The brightness of the bulb is measured outside the headlight and separate of using any shutters, lenses, mountings or the voltage, all things which affect the real-world brightness levels of the headlight.
The plaintiffs allege GM made changes in the bulbs, assemblies and operation of the headlights. The earlier headlights allegedly used reflector-style headlights with two independent headlight systems, one for high beams and one for low beams. Each had its own bulb, lens, reflector, housing and a voltage source.
But for the 2014-2015 Sierra trucks in the lawsuit, GM allegedly changed to projector-style headlights with single bulbs, smaller reflectors, two lenses each and shutters to switch between high and low beams that work from a single voltage source.
The plaintiffs claim this is a problem because the shutter causes dark bands in the low beam configuration and there are more lenses through which light must pass. In addition, the plaintiffs allege GM has admitted in its technical service bulletins that the voltage is insufficient.
Based on complaints made to the government, the lawsuit says there are no headlight complaints concerning 2016 GMC Sierras but 23 complaints about the 2014-2015 trucks.
The technical service bulletins referenced by the lawsuit include PIT5374 and PIT5374B sent to dealerships in 2015.
“Some customers may comment of poor headlight performance when driving in very dark rural areas. While the headlights meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requirements and Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) requirements, customers may request better headlight performance for the severly dark rural areas.”
GM told dealers, “The new BCM [body control module] calibration will increase the voltage to the headlight bulbs in both the low beam and high beam selections.”
According to the plaintiffs, this is proof there are problems with the voltage to the Sierra headlights.
The plaintiffs allege that even when a driver switches to high beam headlights, drivers are still put in danger.
“The lights still fail to adequately and safely illuminate the road. At 60 mph, a driver has 250 feet of visibility, or less than three seconds to react and come to a stop. However, over 300 feet is typically needed to bring a vehicle to a stop from 60 miles an hour, if reaction time is included.” - GMC Sierra headlight lawsuit
Although the suit was filed in 2015, it still hasn't been certified as a class-action and some of the named plaintiffs have dropped out.
General Motors denies there is a problem with the Sierra headlights and according to court documents, the judge has dismissed a few claims made against GM.
The judge found GM's arguments persuasive in a motion to dismiss a breach of express warranty claim under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
In addition, the judge dismissed two specific claims based on state laws, but GM will face accusations the truck owners were "injured" by the dim headlights. The judge further denied GM's motion to dismiss fraud-based claims and state consumer law claims.
The GMC Sierra headlight lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California - Armando J. Becerra, Guillermo Ruela, et al. v. General Motors LLC, et al.
CarComplaints.com has complaints about the trucks: