While talking to owners of vehicles facing emissions accusations, one common question or concern often arises: ‘how can there be an issue if I haven’t had it repaired?’ Based heavily on violations of governmental regulations, deep software coding and heavy competition in the diesel vehicle realm, emissions scandals do not involve a nagging noise, hiccups in acceleration, being stuck on the side of the road or a worrisome warning light. Instead, trucks involved in emissions lawsuits are accused of being non-compliant in a mostly invisible way. The possible impact, though, of such a lawsuit can’t be ignored.
Legal Rights in Emissions Scandals
Emissions lawsuits, in a nutshell, involve vehicles that release more of a regulated gas in its exhaust than is legally allowed. In the recent cases involving Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler, the emissions issue involved the release of NOx. This gas, invisible to the eye, and without any direct ‘warning signs,’ is a byproduct of the diesel combustion process and a major greenhouse gas. The science of these issues isn’t as important as the potential financial consequences. Whether you agree with the governmental emissions levels required of trucks or not, when you bought the truck you expected not to face any surprises or changes in your vehicle’s performance. Unfortunately, the resolution of an emissions case, especially in a class action, can often interfere with both of those expectations.
First – ‘the patch.’ Unless an emissions case involves a specific, physical device or engineering configuration that is hiding the excessive release of gases, an emissions issue will usually involve the software in the truck. Governmental testing is done in repetitious, common environments; when the trucks are tested to ensure they meet standards, those tests are done in the same types of rooms and typically on what resembles a large treadmill. In the case of Volkswagen, computer software would detect things like the wheel not being turned while driving for hundreds of miles and/or staying at a constant speed – clear indications it was being tested – which resulted in the vehicle manipulating emissions and performance. Not until researchers set up a mobile testing system that would allow for testing the emissions out on the road did the improper release of NOx get exposed.
How Emissions Cheating Works
Diesel vehicles with a defeat/cheat device (or software doing the same) get better miles per gallon because they are allowed to, in effect, cut corners and release more NOx. A patch is the software code later installed on vehicles found to be outside of compliance to ‘undo’ the ‘cheat.’ When the vehicle is forced to ‘play fair’ and the computer no longer hides the NOx being released, performance, including mileage and DEF consumption (and then re-sale value) can suffer. Volkswagen owners worldwide alleged major issues when their vehicles were recalled and patches were installed to reduce their emissions.
Again, this is not about whether governmental regulations regarding emission levels should be higher or lower – it’s about the result of mandatory fixes because you were not sold the vehicle you were promised. Even if you think the release of greenhouse gases isn’t important, a process that allows certain manufacturers to sell their vehicles as ‘compliant’ while others are forced to engineer better vehicles, or vehicles with slightly lower MPGs, etc., is not fair. Competition in the marketplace leads to manufacturers creating better vehicles with better performance and more – if cheating is allowed, on any issue (even sound quality!), manufacturers are incentivized to stop trying to make competitive vehicles and instead focus on how to conceal their shortcomings.
How an Emissions Fix Can Impact Owners
These ongoing class action lawsuits regarding illegal emissions most definitely impact you as an owner of one of these vehicles. Even if your truck’s illegal emissions are corrected through a software patch, your –resale value can be impacted, just as was the case with Volkswagen. This means that any drop in MPGs, fluid usage, general vehicle performance due to a software patch to correct illegal levels of emissions can affect your re-sale value. Because of this, knowing there is a class action suit facing your vehicle, it is more important than ever to take action to avoid very real problems in the years to come.
Whether you agree with global warming, emissions standards, class action lawsuits, etc., you are forced to get involved now. If you do nothing and a class action settlement is reached, you will be automatically included and have your legal rights decided for you. In fact, the only way to ensure you are in charge of your own future and protect your financial interests, unless you agree with all terms set in the class action, is to file an individual claim and guide your claim to the outcome you prefer.
Emissions Litigation Already in Motion
We are not the class action law firm. Instead, we have a proven history of helping owners who do not want to be told what their vehicle claim is worth, and whom desire to opt out or avoid a class action settlement in order to protect their rights. Each of our clients is in the driver’s seat of deciding if an offer for their emissions issue is enough, while also preserving all options for their vehicle’s defect until they decide that an offer is adequate.
It may seem that you have all the time in the world to decide what to do, but the sad truth is that you do not. As the class action on this issue moves forward, each day is part of a closing window; once a settlement is reached, you have a final deadline to take action that cannot be ignored. For many class actions, if you have filed a lawsuit before the settlement has been reached, you do not need to opt out. If you have not, you only have a set period of time to provide required information to preserve your rights – and also find a law firm to file your claim.
Don’t let a class action and the manufacturer decide what the future of your truck should be. Take the steps now to get us the information we need to file your claim! You didn’t sign the dotted line to own a truck that may require software modifications to finally be in governmental compliance and you most definitely did not sign up for any performance issues it may face, including a drop in re-sale value, as a result of a mandatory software patch to correct an emissions issues.
Contact our firm to join owners who every day choose Stern Law to preserve their rights and help them pursue all the compensation they deserve. Get started now! Give us your info through our online form, any time of the day, or call (844) 808-7529 to speak with a team member during business hours.