GM 8-speed transmission lawsuit granted class action certification

·2 min read

A story on Autoblog about potentially faulty 8-speed automatic transmissions from General Motors in 2019 has, as of the day this was published, 166 comments, mostly from owners of cars and trucks who say they are experiencing "a hesitation, followed by a significant shake, shudder, jerk, clunk, or 'hard shift' when the vehicle's automatic transmission changes gears." At the time, lawyers were seeking statewide classes in at least six states. As of today, the Detroit Free Press reports that a judge has granted class action status to a lawsuit brought by 39 plaintiffs across 26 states covering the transmission issue.

The lawsuit specifically applies to vehicles that are equipped with GM's 8L90 or 8L45 8-speed automatic transmissions made between 2015 and March 1, 2019. Both of these transmissions are similar units, the 8L45 being slightly lighter version used in fewer vehicles than the beefier 8L90, and are designed for front-engine, rear- or all-wheel drive applications. The lawsuit alleges that the erratic transmission behavior makes some vehicles unsafe to drive.

Ted Leopold, partner at Cohen Milstein and the court-appointed lead counsel for the case, said in a statement, "General Motors knowingly sold over 800,000 eight-speed transmission vehicles, which they knew to be defective for years, and yet made the business decision not to tell its customers before purchase." He added, "Dealers were directed to tell the customers that harsh shifts were ‘normal' or ‘characteristic.’ Such decision making is both highly irresponsible and emblematic of what GM believes it can get away with."

The vehicles included in the court order with potentially faulty transmissions includes:

Some additional details of the lawsuit can be found at the Cohen Milstein site, including claims that "since 2015, GM has issued thirteen versions of a “technical service bulletin,” or “TSB,” related to this shifting issue alone."

The statement from Cohen Milstein says that a "second action regarding GM vehicles with 8L transmissions is also underway in Battle v. General Motors, LLC, 2:22-cv-108783. That case features 8L vehicles with harsh shifts made after March 1, 2019 (MY19 to MY22), when GM replaced the automatic transmission fluid that caused the shudder problem."