In 2019, a class-action lawsuit was filed that alleged certain Corvette Z06 and Grand Sport wheels from 2015 to the present bend, crack, and puncture tires. The lawsuit alleged the faulty wheels could result in high replacement costs for Chevy Corvette drivers. But in November 2020, the lawsuit was dismissed.
What happened to prompt the lawsuit? Why was it thrown out?
Bent and cracked wheels on Chevy Corvettes
Plaintiff Anthony Nardizzi alleged in the nationwide class-action lawsuit that he leased a 2018 Chevy Corvette from a California dealer in June 2018. Immediately afterward, Nardizzi took the Corvette to a third-party wheel-finishing company, CalChrome, to pick up the wheels for coating.
According to the consumer site CarComplaints.com, CalChrome recorded a video showing two bent wheels, which the plaintiff said cost $7,500 to replace.
The plaintiff complained to the California dealership where he leased the Corvette and asked it to cover the cost. He claimed the repair fell under the bumper-to-bumper warranty. The dealer said the bent wheels were a result of how the plaintiff drove the car.
The plaintiff then complained to General Motors. Eventually, the automaker agreed to cover $1,200 of the $7,500 expense he’d paid out of pocket.
The lawsuit stated GM was in breach of its three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty by blaming Corvette drivers for the bent and cracked wheels. The plaintiff explained he immediately took the new Corvette to the third-party company, which he offered as proof the problem existed when the car was new.
The lawsuit alleged cast aluminum alloy wheels used on Chevy Corvette Z06 and Corvette Grand Sport models were dangerous because they punctured tires after the wheels cracked and broke. And once they broke, they were expensive to replace.
According to the lawsuit, GM either knew or should’ve known about the wheels before selling the vehicles to consumers. Aside from the California plaintiff’s experience, there were alleged internal data and many drivers’ complaints regarding similar situations.
In November 2020, federal judge Cormac J. Carney dismissed the lawsuit. He ruled that the plaintiff failed to convince him the wheels were defective when the Corvettes were sold as new vehicles.
In its efforts to get the lawsuit thrown out, GM first argued the plaintiff never stated a plausible claim, according to CarComplaints.com. The plaintiff stated GM leased and sold cars with wheels it knew were defective and failed to cover repair and replacement costs. But the judge sided with GM and explained that the plaintiff failed to allege faulty workmanship or materials instead of a flaw in the design.
According to the judge, the warranty applies to any defect caused by materials or workmanship during the warranty period. Here, defects involving “slight noise, vibrations, or other normal characteristics of the vehicle” were not covered. The warranty also says the customer should take the vehicle to a Chevrolet dealership within the warranty period for necessary repairs. However, the plaintiff took his vehicle to a third party to fix the rims and then contacted GM for reimbursement.
The judge dismissed an implied breach of warranty claim related to the Song-Beverly Act. Per the judge, to state a claim under that act, the plaintiff had to allege a defect that made the product unfit for its original purpose. The plaintiff didn’t establish that his vehicle suffered a perpetual defect that couldn’t be corrected through repair or component replacement.
The plaintiff also didn’t allege he had more trouble with the wheels after the replacement other than saying GM replaced them with “similarly defective wheels.” But the owner had already said a third party, not GM, had replaced the wheels.
Finally, the judge dismissed the remaining claims of fraud where the plaintiff alleged GM knew about the defective rims before the cars were sold. Other drivers filed 30 claims after the plaintiff bought his Corvette. Only 11 complaints were made before that time, and some of those suggested the rims cracked because of road conditions or driver error.
Consumer complaints about the 2015 Chevy Corvette
From 2015 to the current year on CarComplaints.com, multiple claims and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complaints were filed against the Chevy Corvette concerning “wheel/hub problems.” In 2017, as many as 131 complaints were filed with the NHTSA on the issue.
One Florida owner of a 2017 Chevy Corvette said his local dealership refused to address the problem. They told them they would order new wheels, but it would be the owner’s responsibility to pay for them and subsequent balancing and mounting.
In New Jersey, an owner of a 2017 Corvette Z06 with only 8,200 miles on it took the car to have the tires balanced. One front wheel and one rear wheel were discovered to be bent. In a second incident, one rear wheel cracked. Five months later, a third wheel cracked.
An Illinois owner had a 2017 Corvette with a leaking tire and claimed the dealer was aware of the situation. The owner had received no response from the dealer regarding the issue. The owner maintained that aftermarket wheels would cost around $3,000 out of pocket if GM didn’t pay for them.