— A GM oil consumption settlement has been approved by a federal judge for customers of 2010-2013 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs equipped with 2.4-liter Ecotec engines.
The class action alleges defective piston rings are prone to premature wear and excessive engine oil consumption that causes damage to the Ecotec engines.
According to the lawsuit, the Ecotech engines can burn one quart of oil every 1,000 miles which causes engine knocking, low oil pressure, fouled spark plugs, damage to the timing chains and eventually engine failures.
The automaker denies the allegations but in the past had created "special coverage adjustments" (SCAs) for 2010-2012 Terrain and Equinox models, then made a design ( vehicle production) change in May 2013.
For model 2010-2012 SUVs, GM’s previously issued SCAs provided free piston assembly replacement for vehicles diagnosed with high oil consumption within specified time and mileage limitations, and also allowed then-current owners to submit reimbursement claims for out-of-pocket costs.
However, no adjustment was issued for 2013 Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain SUVs, and the SCAs for 2010-2012 models expired years ago.
According to the GM oil consumption settlement, customers of the affected vehicles which were included in the previous 2010-2012 SCAs will be contacted with offers to submit claims for reimbursement for expenses previously incurred. Those expenses include items such as replacement of piston assemblies for excessive oil consumption and related car rental charges.
Customers who didn't take advantage of past SCAs will also receive new claim forms to submit claims for reimbursements. However, the SCAs will have specific time and mileage limitations that must be met.
Time and mileage limitations for 2010 vehicles are 10 years or 120,000 miles after initial retail sale or lease, whichever comes first, and for 2011 and 2012 vehicles the limitations are seven years and six months or 120,000 miles after initial retail sale or lease, whichever comes first.
GM will issue a new SCA for 2013 vehicles that were manufactured prior to the May 2013 production change within 30 days of the effective date of the oil consumption settlement.
Under this SCA for 2013 models, customers may take their vehicles to GM dealerships for free diagnosis, and if diagnosed as currently consuming excessive amounts of oil, the vehicles will receive free piston assembly replacements.
The limitations for the 2013 SCA are seven years and six months or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first. According to GM, the automaker believes a little more than 7% of model year 2013 customers will participate in the SCA.
The settlement also says customers who previously paid out-of-pocket for piston assembly replacements due to excessive oil consumption or other repairs solely required due to excessive oil consumption due to piston ring wear may file claims for reimbursement of expenses.
Because the settlement agreement was recently paused after certain GM customers objected to the terms, the final settlement includes clarifying language that says the settlement provides "reimbursement for repairs and/or replacement of engine components that are or were required and solely caused by excessive oil consumption due to piston ring wear."
Claim forms will also be mailed to 1,709 customers who opted out of the settlement, giving those customers the chance to participate in the settlement.
The settlement had been put into a holding pattern when several customers objected to the terms and complained the settlement was unfair or unreasonable because it did not compensate them for all costs related to oil consumption.
Owners said the settlement didn't compensate them for "reimbursement for engine repair or replacement, diminution in value at resale, and routine maintenance and repairs (such as oil changes).
However, the judge overruled the objectors by finding the SCAs for the 2010-2013 vehicles "have always contemplated repair or replacement of engine components that have failed solely as a result of excessive oil consumption due to piston ring wear."
According to the oil consumption settlement, the attorneys who filed the lawsuit will receive $3.5 million.
Affected Equinox and Terrain customers will receive mailings with details about the settlement.
The GM oil consumption settlement was decided in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida - Berman, et al., v. General Motors, LLC.