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Lawsuits & Litigation

Class Action Against General Motors Claims Bad Manufacturing Caused Corvette Wheels to Fail

— October 11, 2020

The lawsuit alleges that G.M. used poor-quality, inferior materials to keep the “unsprung weight” of the 2015-2019 Corvette Z06 down.

A consolidated class action against General Motors is seeking millions of dollars for Corvette owners who have reported unexpected and unpreventable wheel damage.

According to The Detroit Free Press, the lawsuit’s 18 plaintiffs are all current or former owners of 2015-2019 Corvette Z06 or Grand Sport models. The class alleges that manufacturing defects led to some low-mileage Corvettes suffering bent or broken wheel rims.

The lawsuit, says the Free Press, is keen to maintain that the plaintiffs all owned relatively new vehicles, and were all safe drivers. It claims that General Motors used inferior materials in manufacturing and performed poor quality checks.

More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that GM used less material than is ordinarily necessary to reduce “unsprung weight,” or weight which is not borne by a vehicle’s suspension.

“As a result, the rims are not strong enough and crack and deform under normal driving conditions,” the class action states, adding that rim defects can be felt while driving and increase the possibility of motorists experiencing air leaks and tire blow-outs.

The GM Building in downtown Detroit. Image via Maxpixel. Public domain.

Corvette Blogger notes that, in 2017, Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter attempted to partially address the cracked-wheel-phenomenon, saying that sometimes motorists make contact with small, scarcely-noticeable obstacles which damage their vehicles over time.

“A frequent sequence of events is that a wheel gets bent by a road hazard but the damage is initially almost undetectable to the driver,” Juechter wrote on the Corvette Forum. “Maybe the driver notices a little more vibration, but many times not if the wheel is only slightly out-of-round. A wheel that is not perfectly round puts stress in the rim that varies with each wheel rotation. Over time fatigue cracks can form after thousands or even millions of cycles.

“I have actually experienced this myself,” Juechter said, explaining that, because the initial damage is so minor, motorists are often not able to recall any one incident that may have damaged their Corvette.

While General Motors has yet to provide a comprehensive statement in response to the consolidated class, a spokesperson did tell the Free Press that the company has no open safety recalls for 2015-2019 Corvettes—and does not plan to issue any.

In GM’s view, the spokesperson said, the lawsuit’s allegations of wheel or rim damage are an expected consequence of ordinary wear-and-tear.

The company also notes that all General Motors dealers offer Tire and Wheel Protection packages to prospective customers.

However, the lawsuit cited a review of the 2017 Grand Sport published in Car and Driver. In its review, the magazine reported that it had to repair or replace a half-dozen damaged wheels in just under 40,000 miles. The total cost for the repairs amounted to more than $4,000, which GM refused to cover under warranty.

“Customers regularly paid over $900 per wheel to replace one cracked wheel with an equally defective replacement wheel,” the class action alleges.

Attorney Tarek Zohdy, senior counsel with L.A.-based Capstone Law, would not tell the Detroit Free Press how much his firm is seeking for affected Corvette owners.

“We are consumer advocates and look forward to vindicating the rights of all consumers who purchased one of these vehicles with defective rimes,” Zodhy said. “Our only goal is to ensure that owners receive what they bargained for.”


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