General Motors has been under fire for the past several months over an alleged defect in their 8-speed transmission. While the situation is ongoing, the series of events could very well compromise the GM image.
Back in April, GM was hit with a class action lawsuit with numerous complaints stemming from the defect. As the summer progresses, more and more customers are speaking out with their displeasure.
The (now infamous) 8-speed transmission is found in many different GM vehicles, including:
- Chevrolet Silverado – 2015-2019 models
- Chevrolet Colorado – 2017-2019 models
- Chevrolet Corvette – 2015-2019 models
- Chevrolet Camaro – 2016-2019 models
- Cadillac Escalade & Escalade ESV – 2015-2017 models
- Cadillac ATS & ATS-V – 2016-2019 models
- Cadillac CTS & CTS-V – 2016-2019 models
- Cadillac CT6 – 2016-2019 models
- GMC Sierra – 2015-2019 models
- GMC Yukon & Yukon XL – 2015-2019 models
- GMC Canyon – 2017-2019 models
According to the information on Classaction.org, drivers experienced frequent “shakes,” “jerks,” and “hard shifts” when changing gears – speeding up or slowing down. Additionally, there have been dozens of complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the problem.
Here is one of the most prominent ones from the class action lawsuit:
“Known transmission issue which causes the vehicle to buck and surge when you pull up to a stop light, stop sign, on the highway, or in traffic. Extremely dangerous… We are afraid to drive the vehicle as it surges forward at any given moment. Contacted Cadillac and they are unwilling to do anything to help with the issue. They are concerned that this would start them down a slippery slope for repairing many 2015, 16, 17s that have the same issues… Someone is going to get seriously injured or killed as a result of this transmission issue.”
There are also claims in the lawsuit that the issue may be related to the torque converter, of which could have been exposed due to friction. When this happens, metal shavings can move throughout the transmission – causing the gears to function improperly.
Now, it’s important to note that this is not the first time GM has been in hot water for faulty parts. In the fall of 2018, the automaker faced a federal probe after a series of complaints regarding subpar brake performance on GM pickups and SUVs.
The issue was that the surface coating wasn’t applied properly to the rear brake calipers. This meant that gas could potentially end up in the brake hydraulic circuit, which in turn, would compromise brake performance. This widespread defect led to GM recalling 210,000 trucks and SUVs.
How General Motors Responded to the Transmission Defect
In the face of any business crisis, the response is often times more indicative of the brand than the crisis itself.
In response to the class action lawsuit, GM filed 13 technical service bulletins regarding the faulty unit – none of which were able to solve the problem. GM then tried to rebound with an “improved” 8-speed transmission in the 2019 Silverado and 2019 Sierra models.
Per a GM press release, they claimed to have made “enhancements designed to improve shift quality, while also adding a new centrifugal pendulum absorber torque converter that reduces vibrations to improve smoothness.”
This new transmission unit would replace the defective units on the half-ton Silverado and Sierra models. However, it would not (yet) impact other GM vehicles like full-size SUVs or mid-size pickup trucks.
Criticism of General Motors Following the Transmission Defect
Despite everything that’s played into this situation, some in the automotive industry believe that GM may have mishandled the issues and complaints with the 8-speed transmission defect. Some even believe that GM should have replaced the defective, 8-speed transmissions with the new 10-speed automatic transmission – possibly developed jointly with Ford.
Obviously, a fix on this big of a scale would require a serious effort, as many different product lines were affected. Additionally, the 10-speed would not fit into ALL impacted models – such as the C7 Corvette.
The transmission is a vital component of any vehicle. Many issues with a defective transmission could potentially result in serious injury or death. This is something manufacturers should NEVER cut corners on.
While it would have been a big effort, some experts say that GM would have been wise to replace the 8-speed automatic transmission with the new 10-speed transmission (to all applicable vehicles) as soon as it was launched. Instead, they continued to offer vehicles with the problem-ridden 8-speed – claiming it was “improved,” even though there weren’t any noticeable improvements.
What This Situation Could Mean for GM in the Long Run
There’s no denying that replacing ALL faulty 8-speed transmissions would come at a serious cost to GM. However, a problem of this magnitude comes with a detrimental amount of consumer risk.
The costs and labor needed to switch applicable vehicles to the 10-speed automatic transmission shouldn’t be looked at as a loss. Instead (given the situation), the cost should be seen as a long term investment in avoiding lemon law cases, class action lawsuits, and most importantly, preserving the integrity of the GM brand.
If we look at the facts that transpired since this transmission problem came about; efforts to file technical bulletins and working to “improve” the current transmission turned out to be futile. From a wider perspective, these acts could be seen from the public that GM tried to take the easy way out of a serious (and potentially life-threatening) situation.
The long term ramifications of this could spell big problems for GM. The Made in America stamp has always symbolized an undying devotion to quality and never cutting corners.
As many of these affected vehicles are assembled in the United States, the way in which GM handled this substantial defect could potentially result in thousands of customers turning their backs on the brand.
The dust may not have cleared from this whole debacle yet, which means we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
However, this doesn’t mean that consumers should wait and simply hope for the best.
As a lemon law lawyer in Los Angeles, we know that driving a car with a faulty transmission can be extremely dangerous to you – as well as the MANY other drivers around you. If you have purchased one of the models listed above, don’t waste any more time and reach out to us!