GM faces class action lawsuit over excessive tire wear

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Impala emblem

Some Impalas may be going through rear tires too quickly. Image: IanPhilipMiller/Flickr/CC BY-ND

General Motors is facing a class-action lawsuit from owners of 2007 and 2008 Impalas. The suit alleges that a rear end defect is causing tires to wear out prematurely. In 2008, GM addressed the issue for Impalas sold as police cars but not to consumer motorists. The lawsuit could cost the company millions.

Faulty spindle rods

The suit, filed last week in Detroit federal court, says because of faulty rear spindle rods, the vehicles become misaligned, causing excessive wear to the rear tires.

“Despite having knowledge of this premature wear problem, (GM) has not recalled the subject cars, which has required class members to pay the cost of fixing the defective spindle rods as well as for replacement tires and realignment,” the law suit states.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Donna Trusky, of Blakely, Pa., who wants GM to replace the potentially faulty rods. She is the only person identified at this time by name in the suit.

Tires replaced after 6,000 miles

Trusky says that she bought her Impala in February 2008 and had to replace the tires after only 6,000 miles. Her dealership replaced the tires and aligned the vehicle but did not disclose the issue with the spindle rod. In November, Trusky failed an annual inspection because of wear on the rear tires. The vehicle at that time had less than 25,000 miles. Trusky says she heard about the 2008 recall of the police versions of the Impala from a GM service bulletin.

Other consumers complain

GM sold more than 400,000 Impalas between 2007 and 2008. The suit has brought on dozens of angry complaints from other owners. One owner complained of having to change tires twice in less than two years.

” (I) Was told by my dealership that GM knows about this problem and has come out with a … kit to fix problem, but I had to purchase it. Excessive wear is a safety problem, and I guess people have to die for action to be taken.”

Another complaint, filed with the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said, “The vehicle has 45,000 miles on it and this is the second set of tires in 6,000 miles.”  Another complained of changing tires three times on a 2008 Impala with only 41,000 miles on it.

Differences in police vehicles questioned

Carolyn Normandin, a spokesperson for GM, said that the police versions of the Impala were different than the consumer models. She said that those cars have a different suspension system designed for the needs of law enforcement.

David Fink, the attorney representing owners in the suit, however, said the law enforcement modifications did not affect the rear tires or the spindle rods. “We don’t think there’s a meaningful difference in terms of the defect,” he said Friday.

Detroit News

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