By Melissa Angell
Law360 (January 7, 2021, 8:14 PM EST) — A new proposed class action in Michigan federal court alleges that Ford knowingly concealed manufacturing defects in its F-150 vehicles believed to cause an excessively high rate of engine oil consumption, usually manifesting after the vehicle’s warranty period has expired.
A trio of Ford owners sued the car manufacturer Wednesday, alleging that their Ford F-150 vehicles guzzle oil “at an abnormally high pace” and that instead of disclosing the defect, Ford fraudulently concealed it from customers because it favored profits over safety and performance.
“The oil consumption defect constitutes a safety issue because it can cause the class vehicles to run out of engine oil and fail, and as such, Ford had a duty to disclose the safety issue to consumers,” the complaint says.
The suit brought by vehicle owners David Lyman, Timothy Thuering and Vincent Brady says Ford knew about the supposed oil consumption defect since the car manufacturer is required to test its vehicles, which they say would have exposed the defect.
In their suit, the trio take issue with expenses and inconveniences incurred from constantly monitoring and changing their engine oil levels as a result of the consumption defect.
Thuering’s 2018 Ford F-150 vehicle consumed a quart of engine oil for every 1,000 miles driven, according to the suit. Upon assessing the engine’s oil consumption, the dealership concluded that Thuering’s engine was not leaking. After further queries, the dealership later informed Thuering that the vehicle’s oil consumption was considered normal and that guidance from Ford suggested adding an additional quart of oil during each oil change.
The consumers pinpoint the defect to “insufficient piston ring tension,” which results in engine oil moving past the vehicle’s oil control and piston rings to enter the engine’s combustion changer, where the oil is then burned.
“Once in the combustion chamber, oil is burned off rather than returned for further lubrication,” the complaint says. “This not only causes a decrease in engine performance but also decreases fuel efficiency, causes carbon deposits to form, and can damage the engine and various ignition and emission components.”
According to the complaint, Ford issued at least four technical service bulletins to dealerships related to excessive oil consumption in the vehicles, which provide guidance on how to repair Ford vehicles and respond to customer complaints.
The bulletin’s fourth version proposes the installation of a new engine oil level indicator known as a dipstick, which changes the engine oil and the oil filter. But the new dipstick uses a wider “normal operating range,” which the consumers argue does not fix the defect, saves Ford repair costs and is used “to mask the oil consumption problem.”
“This change means that a dipstick reading that was once at or below the minimum fill line, previously requiring an engine replacement, and perhaps caused customers to become alarmed or concerned with excessive oil consumption, is now considered normal and within Ford’s acceptable parameters,” the complaint says.
The F-Series brings in a hefty sum for the car manufacturer — roughly $50 billion of Ford’s annual $160 billion in sales is derived solely from sales of the F-Series truck as of 2018.
On average, Ford sold 900,000 F-150 vehicles per year over the last three years, according to the complaint.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received numerous complaints about the oil consumption defect citing concerns over vehicle safety, the suit says.
The consumers seek to establish a nationwide class of those who purchased or leased Ford’s F-150 vehicles in addition to three subclasses of California, Ohio and New York residents who purchased or leased the class vehicles. In their suit they request a monetary award to repair or replace the class vehicles and want Ford to repair, recall and replace the class vehicle.
Ford faces accusations of negligence, breach of warranty and violating an array of local statutes.
The suit launched Wednesday would not be the first against Ford over the F-150 model.
In 2019, Ford was sued over accusations that it overhyped its fuel economy in its F-150 and Ranger pickup tricks, which turned into a sprawling multidistrict litigation against the carmaker.
Counsel for the proposed class and representatives for Ford did not immediately respond to Law360’s request for comment Thursday.
As part of this investigation, Baron and Herskowitz needs to hear from F-150 drivers to learn more about the problem and to determine whether a defect is to blame. If your truck is burning through excessive amounts of oil, we want to hear about it. Drivers may be able to get their money back for repairs and related expenses. Please email us at email@example.com or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us at 305-670-0101.
It does not cost anything to get in touch or speak with the attorneys.