class action lawsuit has been filed against General Motors for monetary damages in excess of $5 million, alleging it sold or leased tens of thousands of vehicles that are equipped with “defective drivelines.”
Affected customers have coined the phrases such as “Chevy Shake” or “Death Wobble” due to an alleged defect that is suspected of causing the vehicles to shake violently when they reach interstate cruising speeds, states a 106-page lawsuit out of the Southern District of Florida.
“The root cause of the Chevy Shake is a defective drive shaft,” also known as a propeller shaft, which is fitted in the vehicle’s driveline, the lawsuit claims.
“This is a major safety concern because drivers have reported that the defect makes the vehicles feel unstable at (high) speeds and can cause a loss of control,” the lawsuit says. If the defective aluminum drive shaft goes unrepaired it can cause it to deteriorate, leading to its inevitable failure, the suit claims.
The affected models are the 2015 to 2020 Cadillac Escalade, 2014 to 2020 Chevrolet Silverado, 2015 to 2020 Chevrolet Suburban, 2015 to 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2014 to 2020 Sierras, and 2015 to 2020 Yukon and Yukon XL.
The lawsuit claims General Motors allegedly knew about the “Chevy Shake” defect as early as 2014 yet hid it from customers.
Plaintiff Douglas Wiess who purchased a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 on Sept. 10, 2015, is a case in point. Not long after he purchased the vehicle, he experienced violent shaking inside his Silverado while traveling at speeds of 70 mph and up. The shaking is so severe, the suit alleges, “that if a cup were placed in the console without a lid, it would spill.”
Wiess spent about $2,500 to try to address the problem on April 11, 2018. He had the tires replaced, along with the brakes and rotors. When this did not help, he later returned to the repair shop for a realignment and tire rebalancing.
Weiss was later informed by a technician that this issue was “widespread” in some Chevy vehicles, states the lawsuit.
The money Weiss spent on evaluations and possible repairs was not covered under warranty and GM denied that the shaking was a result of a widespread defect. To this day, the defect continues, according to the lawsuit.
Countless other customers have reported similar concerns to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), on web forums and on social media. Page after page of the lawsuit features customer complaints of a shake or vibration when they reach high speeds.
“2014 GMS Sierra….I have the vibration also between 65 -75 mph. The passenger seat shakes like hell, the steering wheel has bad wobble,” posted one customer to the online forum, states the lawsuit.
“2014 GMC all-terrain package unresolved vibration issues started bringing this truck back to the dealership after 17 days of ownership. Rf tires no change, had really bad vibration in rear end at 80 mph…had a customer service agent tell me there was nothing wrong with my truck so therefore they could not do anything for me…I stood behind the GMC name for over 30 years unfortunately GM does not stand behind their customers or their products,” wrote another.
Still, as more and more complaints rolled in, the complaint says, GM failed to issue a recall of the defective drive shaft and continued to sell and lease vehicles even though it was aware of the defect.
“…GM knew from the time of manufacture that the drive shafts contained a dangerous, inherent defect from the point of manufacture that caused the Class Vehicles to exhibit the Chevy Shake,” the case says.
Did GM breach its written warranty?
Even though many vehicles were sold with a typical 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty that covers the drive shaft, the lawsuit says, GM refuses to honor its warranties to affected customers by failing to the repair the aluminum drive shafts.
Some customers who purchased a custom-made steel drive shaft out of pocket say repair corrected the Chevy shake, the suit says.
The lawsuit goes on to state that many customers shelled out a great deal of money on “defect-related repairs.”
Mum’s the word
While, according to the lawsuit, GM privately acknowledges the defect, it has remained publicly quiet. By doing so, the suit alleges, GM sold more vehicles, avoiding a potential loss of revenue.
“As GM knows, a reasonable person would consider the defect important and would either not purchase or lease a vehicle with the defect were the defect disclosed in advance or would pay substantially less for the vehicle,” states the suit.