General Motors Engine Lifter Defect

General Motors Class Action Lawsuit

Another class action lawsuit has been filed against General Motors over valve-lifter issues in Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles equipped with certain versions of its Small Block V8 engines. The class action alleges that the active fuel management lifters, dynamic management lifters and valve train systems in these vehicles are defective, causing the lifters to malfunction and prematurely fail. The plaintiffs accuse GM of knowingly selling vehicles with faulty valve fuel management lifters that could potentially place drivers in danger. 

No recall on these vehicles has been issued as of yet, but the nine plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that GM should do so immediately for the following models: 

  • 2014-present Cadillac Escalade
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac CTS-V
  • 2014-present Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2014-present Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2014-2019 Corvette
  • 2014-2016 Chevrolet Avalanche
  • 2014-present Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2014-present Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2016-present Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014-present Camaro SS
  • 2014-present GMC Sierra
  • 2014-present GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2014-present GMC Yukon
  • 2014-present GMC Yukon XL

While GM has not issued a lifter recall, the automaker has implemented a policy called Component Coverage, which provides extended warranties for vehicle owners and lessees who have sent their vehicle in for repair at least two times as a result of valve train and lifter issues. The class action says that the extended warranty is only available for customers who have made at least two repairs. Several owners and lessees who have taken their vehicles in for repairs have noted that they still experience ticking noises, stalling, and engine misfires following warranty repair work. 

Plaintiffs claim that GM has tried to replace defective parts with equally defective parts that eventually cause lifter failure. The class action suit mentions that these problems can result in “stalling, losing power while driving, and hesitation, especially when trying to merge,” increasing the risk of a traffic collision. As a result, these complications can be particularly dangerous for drivers while the vehicle is in motion.

Plaintiff Harrison noted that his new 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 began to vibrate, misfire, sputter and lose power just five months after acquiring the car. The lawsuit says that the plaintiff was “only narrowly able to get the vehicle off the bridge, where he called his local GM authorized dealership” after the No. 3 valve cylinder had collapsed. At the time, Plaintiff Harrison’s vehicle had just 8,250 miles on the odometer. 

What is a Lifter?

A lifter or a hydraulic valve lifter is a cylinder that is placed between a car’s camshaft and the cylinder valves. Lifters are essential parts of an internal combustion engine as they help open the internal valves. In vehicles with active fuel management (AFM) or dynamic fuel management (DFM), lifters collapse when the cylinder is deactivated so that the camshaft cannot open the valve when it’s not in use, preventing some cylinders from consuming fuel when only some of the engine power is needed. These pieces help to ensure that the engine runs smoothly, efficiently and quietly. 

Faulty lifters can cause a ticking or tapping sound in the engine, and they must be replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage to a car’s engine. Lifters in poorer condition can produce loud knocking or banging noises in the engine. Other symptoms of bad or failing lifters include engine misfire, stalling, stuttering, and loss of power. These problems can be hazardous to drivers, especially if they occur while the vehicle is in motion. Valve lifters go bad usually as the result of contamination, infrequent oil changes or normal wear and tear. 

Normal wear and irregular service cannot fully explain the lifter problems experienced by owners of newer GM vehicles, however. GM’s goal with its newer fuel management systems was to improve fuel efficiency without having to reduce engine size but it appears that several significant aspects of the new engine’s design were overlooked. Numerous drivers of these newer models have experienced issues with these engine parts within months of purchase, often at 20,000 miles or less. The 2021 lifter lawsuit alleges that the valve train systems fail in these vehicles because the lifters and their locking pins are made of substandard materials that do not conform to design specifications. The suit says that lifters cannot move freely, which can damage other engine components and cause them to fail prematurely. 

Despite the cause of these issues clearly being a flaw on part of General Motors, the auto giant has not done much to remedy this aside from issuing Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) to service-providers. According to the suit, not only has GM actively concealed these defects, but the auto manufacturer has also “effectively and knowingly transferred the costs of repair to consumers, despite the promises of its express warranties.” This unwillingness to issue recalls and preference for placing repair costs directly onto consumers seems to be a pattern for the auto manufacturer in recent years. 

Other GM Engine Issues

Interestingly enough, this recent class action lawsuit is not the first time GM owners and lessees have experienced issues with the fuel management systems in their vehicles. Owners of GM cars have dealt with defective lifters for years going back to the early 2010s, albeit with higher mileages than the plaintiffs in the current 2021 lifter suit. We’ve written previously about the “Chevy Shake,” which has afflicted GM SUV and pickup truck cars since early 2016. Affected vehicles violently shake or shudder while driving over 35mph causing discomfort, poor steering, and even total loss of control of the vehicle. The Chevy Shake and the new, defective lifters are just some of the numerous engine-related problems that GM owners and lessees have experienced over the past few years. 

In May 2020, plaintiffs in Sloan et al. V. General Motors LLC. alleged that the auto manufacturer knowingly sold vehicles that consume abnormally high quantities of oil, producing various issues with the engines. In this instance, defective piston rings were the cause. According to that suit, faulty piston rings in these vehicles do not support high enough tension levels to keep the oil in the crankcase, causing oil to leak out into other parts of the car. Several of the same GM models that are mentioned in the 2021 lawsuit were also implicated in the suit from 2020, including the Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Avalanche, GM Sierra, GMC Yukon, and GMC Yukon XL.

Regarding the concerns discussed in both lawsuits against GM, the auto giant failed to issue any major recalls in either case, and instead chose to post service bulletins on how to replace or repair these problematic engine components, leaving consumers with expensive and recurring visits to the repair shop. 

Consumer Complaints

Harrison, et al., v. General Motors LLC. covers a wide range of Buick, Cadillac, and GMC vehicles. Here’s what some owners and lessees of affected vehicles have encountered with their engine systems:

“After coming to a stop, [the] car engine shut off. No warning or failure lights came on. “

  • Cadillac Escalade Owner

“Lifters in the engine failed causing the truck to stutter and shake going down the highway. Barely could hold it in the road. Truck wanted to stall out while driving. Truck was fixed and made it 30 miles before the same thing happened again.”

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Owner

“The engine went down on May 6, 2021, and I was on the highway with two of my children. I could not accelerate. There was traffic and [I] could not keep up.”

  • Chevrolet Suburban Owner 

“The vehicle was bought brand new and was only driven for a week. It was in motion on the freeway when the engine started to sound noisier than usual, like that of an older truck… something was really wrong because the noise sounded like something was loose inside the engine.”

  • GMC Sierra 1500 Owner

“Eight lifters along with other associated parts need to be replaced. This is a major engine repair. The vehicle is 8 months old and has approximately 10,000 miles on it… The service department manager told me that they have already done 10 of these this year.”

  • Chevrolet Tahoe Owner

Suspect your Cadillac, Chevrolet, or GMC is a Lemon? Let Us Know!

If you have also experienced issues with the engine in your Cadillac, Chevrolet, or GMC vehicle, you may qualify for a lemon law claim. Several plaintiffs in the 2021 class action lawsuit against GM have dealt with engine problems at well under 30,000 miles. If you have taken your GM vehicle in for multiple repairs under warranty, you could receive a refund or cash compensation along with payment of your attorney fees. 

Thinking of joining a class action suit? You could, but instead, we highly suggest that you maximize your outcome by seeking an individual lemon law claim rather than splitting a settlement with thousands of others. Any one of our experts would be more than happy to see if you qualify. And remember, our attorneys don’t get paid unless you win! Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.