Suit alleges GM ignored Impala defect
General Motors issued recalls to fix a faulty part on police versions of 2007-08 Chevrolet Impalas but ignored more than 400,000 U.S. civilian buyers, according to a lawsuit filed last week.
The suit, which was filed in federal court in Detroit and seeks class-action status, alleges the vehicles were manufactured with defective rear spindle rods. The faulty rear spindle rods misalign the rear wheels, causing tires to wear out prematurely, the suit says.
GM issued recall bulletins in June and July 2008 for the police vehicles, and instructed dealers to replace the spindle rods, realign the wheels and replace the tires. The automaker also told dealers to reimburse police departments that had paid for repairs.
Donna Trusky, of Blakely, Pa., the sole plaintiff in the suit, bought an Impala in February 2008 and had to get her tires replaced after driving 6,000 miles, the suit says. The Chevrolet dealership where she bought the vehicle paid to have the tires replaced and paid for a front-end realignment, but Trusky wasn't informed of the issue with the rear spindle rods.
Last November, with just over 24,000 miles on the odometer, Trusky had to replace the tires again because when she took her car in for its annual checkup she was told the rear tires wouldn't pass an inspection.
"(GM) has not recalled the subject cars, which has required affected class members to pay the cost of fixing the defective spindle rods as well as for replacement tires and realignment," the lawsuit asserts. "In fact, many class members have replaced their tires numerous times."
Trusky paid $289.77 to replace her car's rear tires.
"We routinely do not comment on matters in litigation," GM spokesman Alan Adler said. "We did issue a technical service bulletin for 2007-08 Impala police cars that contained repair procedures for a rear suspension issue that led to premature rear tire wear."
There were about 12,500 Impala police cars made in 2007 and an additional 11,300 built in 2008, GM said.
A GM spokeswoman, Carolyn Normandin, told The Detroit News the police version of the Impala was different from the civilian model. It has a special electrical system and special suspension system, Normandin said.
The lawsuit included 16 online complaints from Impala owners illustrating that other drivers have experienced defective rear spindle rods.
"Purchased new 2008 impala, had to replace tires at 35000," one owner wrote at aboutautomobile.com, according to the suit. "Always rotated and balanced and kept proper pressures. Now at 56000 and am being told by chevy 1800.00 to repair rear alignment. Car is driven 99% on the interstate. Again need new tires whats up???"
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