What Car Owners Should Know About EcoDiesel Lawsuits & Buybacks in 2019

There have been a lot of EcoDiesel lawsuits in the news recently, and many car owners are asking themselves how they are affected.

Car manufacturers like Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler have both been sued for cheating emissions testing on their EcoDiesel vehicles.

In both cases, car makers have had to pay millions of dollars to buyers who paid premiums for “greener” vehicles.

If you purchased or leased an EcoDiesel vehicle, you may be entitled to a lemon law settlement, a buyback or repairs from the manufacturers.

Which Chrysler and Dodge EcoDiesel Models Are Affected?

In December 2016, Fiat Chrysler was sued by owners of 2014-2016 Dodge Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees equipped with Ecodiesel 3.0L engines for falsifying the vehicles’ emissions.

According to the lawsuit, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and parts manufacturer Bosch conspired to make and install so-called “defeat devices” on certain EcoDiesel models which would underreport vehicle emissions during testing.

These defeat devices concealed the true amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted by EcoDiesel vehicles, which were sold at a premium thanks to their green marketing. Without the defeat devices, the EcoDiesel vehicles emitted more than five times the legal limit of NOx.

In March 2019, after two years of litigation and several unsuccessful attempts to throw out the case, Fiat Chrysler settled with car owners for over $300 million.

Although Fiat Chrysler settled the lawsuit, they did not admit to any criminal wrongdoing.

Other EcoDiesel lawsuits by vehicle owners and state environmental protection agencies against Fiat Chrysler and other car manufacturers are still ongoing.

FCA EcoDiesel Settlement Amounts & Terms

In the settlement, Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay over 100,000 current and former owners and lessees of 2014-2016 Dodge Rams and Jeep Cherokees.

The settlement amounts are:

  • $3,075 for current owners if no former owner or lessee has filed a claim
  • $2,460 for current owners if a former or lessee has filed a claim
  • $990 for former and current lessees and former owners

Owners are also entitled to an Approved Emissions Modification (AEM) free of charge.

The AEM is a software update to bring affected vehicles up to date with the emission standards under which they were sold. The AEM is not intended to affect your vehicle performance in any way.

Filing Deadlines for Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Ram Owners

For former owners or lessees of the affected models, the claim filing deadline is August 1st, 2019. For current owners or lessees, the deadline is February 3rd, 2021.

The opt-out deadline for owners who want to pursue an individual legal claim against FCA and Bosch was April 15, 2019. Unless you opted-out by that deadline, you are bound by the terms of the class-action settlement.

The settlement only applies to individuals who owned or leased an affected vehicle on January 12, 2017, or who owned or leased an affected vehicle after January 12, 2017, and before the claim filing deadline.

Are You Eligible For an EcoDiesel Buyback?

The short answer is no.

The terms of the settlement do not include any buybacks of the affected vehicles by Fiat Chrysler.

Common Maintenance Issues with Diesel Vehicles

One of the reasons Fiat Chrysler was so successful at marketing EcoDiesel vehicles was that they promised all the benefits of traditional diesel engines without the extra emissions that go with them.

Diesel engines can offer up to 30% greater fuel efficiency than their gasoline counterparts. Diesel also has a much longer shelf life than gasoline, and it’s usually cheaper.

While not a common car complaint, diesel exhaust is much smokier than gasoline exhaust. While it contains less carbon dioxide (CO2), diesel exhaust contains much more nitrogen oxide (NOx), a harmful, cancer-causing chemical. Higher NOx emissions are not the only downside of diesel engines.

Diesel engines require much more frequent oil changes, usually every 3,000 miles.

Air and fuel filters must be changed more frequently.

Overall, diesel engine vehicles involve much higher maintenance costs than their gasoline counterparts.

Pending EcoDiesel Lawsuits and Settlements

Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” and FCA’s EcoDiesel settlement are just the tip of the iceberg of pending and ongoing emissions and EcoDiesel lawsuits, buybacks, and settlements.

As recently as March 2019, Fiat Chrysler recalled nearly one million gasoline vehicles that did not meet US emission standards.

German luxury carmaker BMW is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit filed by owners of its X5 and 335D models. The plaintiffs claim BMW installed defeat devices on these models to cheat emissions testing all while charging buyers a premium for more “eco-friendly” vehicles. The plaintiffs allege that the actual emissions levels of these vehicles exceed EPA limits by 27 times.

Ford is also the target of a class-action lawsuit alleging it installed emissions-cheating devices on its Ranger and F-150 trucks and possibly other models. The lawsuit also alleges Ford misrepresented and misreported emission levels in its advertising and official testing.

Do You Own an Affected Vehicle?

If you own a vehicle affected by a recent class-action lawsuit, recall, buyback or settlement, or if you suspect your vehicle might have a defeat device installed, you should speak to a Lemon Law attorney.

Contact Robison Lemon Law Group today for a free consultation.

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