Legal investigations can happen to any manufacturer. Auto makers have been particularly beleaguered by emissions scandals as of late, with Volkswagen’s willful disregard for requirements setting off a chain of additional investigations in other manufacturers. Fiat Chrysler recently put to bed investigations by the federal government and a class action lawsuit in January of this year, costing them nearly a billion dollars. Ford remains the subject of a class action suit related to diesel emissions and governmental standards, but new headlines reveal the problem may only be getting worse.
Ford announced this month that it is now investigating possible issues with its testing processes related to emissions and fuel economy. While this revelation does not tap into the allegations of a cheat device that is central to the emissions class action, this bit of news is troubling due to its scope. Based upon employee concerns on how calculations were being carried out, Ford now faces a problem of unknown scope and size. An independent group has been called in to determine the extent of the issues, but it is clear this will be an evolving problem for the manufacturer.
How this will affect owners of Ford vehicles remains to be seen. The manufacturer has had to adjust its fuel economy claims in the past when ‘real-world’ calculations did not match the vehicle specs. Those adjustments resulted in compensation for owners of the affected vehicles, and any changes to come out of this investigation may involve the same. That Super Duty trucks, though, could have issues involving an alleged cheat device concealing true emission levels, as well as calculation issues in the stated emissions and fuel economy, is significant.
A vehicle uses a cheat device to allow for more Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) to be released during the normal operation of a diesel engine. The device works to detect when it is being tested and adjusts the emissions to comply with the law. However, in normal operation on general highways and roads, the emissions are higher. Restricting the amount of NOx released reduces fuel efficiency; higher NOx emissions correlate with better MPGs. This is why a manufacturer can be incentivized to use a cheat device.
Our concern with Ford’s announcement about issues with its own internal testing is that it represents the possibility that the numbers are off twice over. The emissions levels, if the class complaint proves true, would be far in excess of governmental regulations and likely require a software patch to undo the systems causing g the illegal emissions. Historically, these software patches affect performance due to the relationship between NOx released and MPGs as previously explained.
The effort by Volkswagen to patch their vehicles and bring them into emissions compliance created problems for thousands of owners worldwide. We had our own concerns, now fully realized, about how the patch will affect EcoDiesel trucks now that they have settled that litigation. But the issue possibly facing Super Duty truck owners due to the alleged cheat device and problems with Ford’s internal testing procedures create a large-scale headache for their owners that cannot be ignored.
A class action settlement in the months or years to come to resolve the emissions matter will undoubtedly automatically include every owner. The class action law firm(s) will not need to ask owners what their goals for compensation are. Instead, they merely need to reach a deal with Ford and then the deal is reviewed by the Court. Both Ford and the class action lawyers would argue aggressively for the deal to be accepted, the manufacturer to limit their legal exposure and the lawyers to receive millions in legal fees. From there, a postcard will likely be mailed and a posting in a newspaper as the most common requirement to notify owners about the settlement. An opt out period is set up, where owners who do not agree with the class settlement must complete paperwork and then… that’s it. Those who never saw the newspaper posting or heard the news, maybe did not even receive or read the postcard, are bound to the settlement’s terms.
Our concern is that the class settlement might only be a few thousand dollars, or less, while the patch could create issues and depreciated value of your truck, far in excess of that amount. Vehicles can face drops in re-sale value, both due to the scandal and negative publicity, but also because of any drops in performance caused by the patch. This is why our firm is filing individual claims on behalf of 2011-17 F250,F350 and F450 Super Duty owners: we fear a class settlement will fail to take into account the true value of such a scandal and ensuing patch fallout.
If you own a 2011-17 F250, F350 or F450 truck, take the time to contact our firm to learn more on how we can help. We charge nothing out-of-pocket for our representation, meaning we are only paid when successful on your behalf. If this emissions matter does not result in problems, a successful claim in court or a settlement with Ford, you would never pay a dime for our assistance. However, if we are correct and this issue with Super Duty trucks will harm your vehicle’s performance and overall value, you will have to ask yourself whether you can afford not to take this matter seriously.
We hope to hear from you soon, before you are locked into a class action settlement that dramatically impacts your legal options on such an expensive investment. You did not ask for a Super Duty truck that faces these challenges and allegations – be sure you are protecting your legal rights before time runs out!
Important Notice: The preceding information represents the opinions and views of Stern Law, PLLC. Despite our opinions and views expressed above, and because every case is different, nothing here can or should be understood to represent a guarantee of success or that every owner will always do better by opting out and suing Ford directly. Instead, the preceding information represents the opinions and views of Stern Law, PLLC that should be thoughtfully considered by you. Questions concerning the terms of any class action settlement can be directed to class counsel.