Audi start-stop systems are supposedly defective, but work as described in the operating instructions.
March 12, 2021 – A class action lawsuit against Audi was dismissed after the owners failed to convince the judge that the start-stop systems were defective. According to the class action lawsuit, the systems shut down the engines too early and release the power brakes and power steering before the vehicles stop.
The plaintiffs also claim that the systems do not restart vehicles once they start moving.
The Audi start-stop system is designed to reduce the CO2 emissions released when idling by switching off the engine when the brake is pressed far enough to stop the vehicle.
According to the class action lawsuit, these vehicles are affected by the alleged start-stop system problems.
2017-2020 Audi A3
2017-2020 Audi A4
2017-2020 Audi A5
2017-2020 Audi A6
2017-2020 Audi A7
2017-2020 Audi A8
2017-2020 Audi S3
2017-2020 Audi S4
2017-2020 Audi S6
2017-2020 Audi S8
2017-2020 Audi TT
2017-2020 Audi TTS
2017-2020 Audi Q5
2017-2020 Audi Q7
2017-2020 Audi Q8
2017-2020 Audi SQ5
Plaintiffs claim Audi dealers refuse to help vehicle owners when they complain about the systems, and Audi sent out bulletins (TSBs) to dealers where customers could complain about the complex systems.
The lawsuit does not allege that any accidents occurred because of the start-stop systems, but plaintiffs claim they were injured by the “depreciation and the cost of repairs required to correct the defect.”
Motion to dismiss the Audi class action
The judge granted Audi’s request for dismissal by clearly stating in the operating instructions that the start-stop system “can turn off the engine before the car comes to a complete standstill”. The manual also states that any vehicle owner who does not want to use the system can turn it off manually.
The judge identified problems with a breach of the warranty claim in which plaintiffs alleged the start-stop systems were not as safe as they had assumed based on Audi advertisements that are not part of the contracts. Plaintiffs do not claim, however, that the vehicles are “different products than what they expected”.
The judge ruled that “facts do not support a breach of a contract right”.
The judge then turned to an implied warranty of trade claim alleged by plaintiffs. According to the judge, the basic requirement for a claim based on the implicit guarantee of marketability is that the plaintiff must claim that the goods received are not fit for normal use.
However, the violation of tacit warranty claims fails because the plaintiffs do not claim that the Audi vehicles are not “essentially free of defects”.
And while plaintiffs cite other legal cases, the judge says that, unlike the flaws in the cases cited by plaintiffs, the start-stop system is optional in that it can be turned off with the push of a single button.
“While plaintiffs may be frustrated that they have to press the button to turn off the start / stop system every time the engine is started, they do not offer any authority to support this frustration as a criminal breach of the implied merchantability guarantee to treat.” – Judge Leonie M. Brinkema
The judge also found that all of the plaintiffs who claimed they took their vehicles to Audi dealerships to have the start / stop systems repaired under warranty alleged that their cars had been examined and were told that there are no error codes for the system or deviations from how the system should work. “
Plaintiffs did not have better success with fraud cases because Audi’s class action lawsuit did not provide any information about the hidden systems.
According to the plaintiffs, the start-stop system is defective because it “switches off the engine too early to release the power steering and brakes before the vehicle has come to a standstill” and because it does not restart the engine immediately if that is the case Vehicle begins to move. “
However, the judge says that the operating instructions clearly describe what happens when the start-stop systems are used.
“The engine stops shortly before the vehicle comes to a stop or when the vehicle is stationary. You can determine whether the engine stops or not by increasing or decreasing the force with which you press the brake pedal. For example: When you are stopped -and-go traffic or only lightly depressing the brake pedal when turning, the engine does not switch off when the vehicle is stationary. As soon as you apply the brakes harder, the engine switches off. “
According to the judge, Audi explains how the system is supposed to work, but the plaintiffs claim the system is defective because it works as described in the owner’s manual. The judge says it is “just how the system is supposed to work”.
Plaintiffs do not claim that the owner’s manuals are incorrect, but the lawsuit alleges that the information in the manuals is fraudulent.
“”[T]The Audi manuals describe an operational aspect of the system that it shuts off the engine while it is still in motion, but they are completely silent about the defect that the system is designed so that this shutdown (1) causes the loss of power steering and power brakes while the car is still moving; and (2) prevents the use of power steering and brakes if the engine restarts and lags forward. “- Class action lawsuit against Audi
However, the judge ruled that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ arguments, the operating instructions clearly explain the consequences of engine shutdown for the power steering and brakes.
According to the manual, Audi warns: “[t]The full function of the brake booster and the power steering cannot be guaranteed “when the engine is switched off. The manual also contains a warning” that the brake booster and the power steering only work when the engine is running “.
The Audi class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division: Pitts et al., Against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. et al.
The plaintiff is represented by Bailey Glasser, LLP, and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.