MaxxForce engines targeted in another lawsuit

James Jaillet July 14, 2014
A class-action lawsuit filed July 10 by three trucking companies against Navistar-International echoes claims of similar lawsuits filed last week: The truck and engine maker knew its EGR-only MaxxForce engines had defects and Navistar concealed those problems from buyers.

The suit, brought by carriers Denis Gray Trucking, Carmichael Leasing and GTL Enterprises, also claim Navistar failed to properly repair the engines during the warranty period, thereby decreasing their trucks’ value and shortening the expected life of the engine. Those who bought International trucks with MaxxForce engines “did not get what they paid for,” the lawsuit alleges.

Navistar spokesperson Elissa Maurer said earlier this week the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The class members in the suit include anyone who bought an EGR-only MaxxForce-equipped International between 2008 and 2013.

The engines could not “handle the amount of heat and pressure they generate,” the carriers claim in their suit, which led to issues like broken EGR valves, exhaust leaks that harm other parts of the engine and EGR cooler failures. The latter causes the engine to shut down immediately, the suit says.

The alleged defects, which the lawsuit claims stem from the exhaust gas recirculation systems on the engines, were safety hazards for both drivers and other motorists, as “sudden breakdowns” would force the trucks’ drivers to perform “emergency maneuvers” to get the truck off of the road. And the engine issues caused coolant and exhaust fumes to enter the cab, causing potential for driver poisoning, the lawsuit claims.

As with lawsuits filed last week over the company’s 2011 and 2012 engines, the class-action suit claims Navistar knew the EGR systems on the MaxxForce engines had problems yet hid those issues from truck buyers.

As evidence of the alleged concealment, the lawsuit notes Navistar marketing that pushed its Advanced EGR system, its fuel economy and its resale value while calling selective catalytic reduction (the aftertreatment system used at that point by all other North American manufacturers) a technology that would be abandoned.

The suits also point to confidential witness testimony in lawsuits claiming Navistar violated securities laws, who say chief engineers in the company presented to former Navistar President and CEO Dan Ustian their concerns with the engines but the company proceeded with them anyhow. Engineers for the company also told their supervisors that the level of EGR the company wanted — along with its fuel economy and performance parameters — “was not possible” per the “physics of EGR,” according to the lawsuit.

The company also halted any work on SCR as a fall-back and threatened to fire employees who discussed “alternate solutions to…EGR,” the lawsuit claims.

Denis Gray Trucking — who’s based in Payullup, Wash., but purchased the trucks in California — says it has purchased more than 100 International trucks since 1977, including six between 2010 and 2012, which were powered by MaxxForce 13 Advanced EGR engines. The trucks had “consistent failures of EGR-related components,” the lawsuit says, with nearly all of the engines’ EGR coolers failing and needing to be replaced within the first 150,000 miles, Gray says in the suit. One didn’t make it 7,000 miles before the EGR cooler failed, the suit says.

Carmichael, based in Chicago, Ill., owns 31 2011-2013 trucks with MaxxForce engines and “experienced numerous breakdowns…most related to the emissions system,” the suit says, and even after repairs, the issues continued. Navistar dealers told Carmichael that the 2011 and 2012 engines did not have the same defect earlier models had.

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