Caterpillar Hit With Lawsuits Over Truck, Bus Engines

PEORIA, IL— At least 15 lawsuits are now pending over Caterpillar’s C13 and C15 engines for chronic failures of its 2007-2010 ACERT diesels, according to news reports.

The suits extend beyond heavy trucks, and include school buses and motor coaches as well as at least one marine engine.

A common complaint is that the engines are unreliable and repeatedly break down, leaving trucks, drivers and loads stranded while mechanics at truck dealers and Cat’s own distributors struggled to repair them.

Some fleets claim they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and lost revenue. Many disposed of their Cat-powered trucks early and bought vehicles with other engines.

Stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Journal Star claim some suits have been settled with judgments ranging into the millions of dollars.

“The suits are a potential embarrassment for a company that regularly says the reliability of its products justifies premium prices,” the Wall Street Journal noted

A school district in San Antonio, Texas, won $900,000 over engine failures and fires that destroyed at least two buses, reports said. Those presumably involved midrange C7 diesels, which used pollution-control equipment similar to those on the larger C13 and C15 engines.

In a statement last month, Catterpillar said: “Caterpillar Inc. is addressing various claims relating to alleged performance issues with emissions technology in some of its 2007 EPA-compliant C13 and C15 ACERT on-highway engines.”

“Caterpillar has worked diligently to deliver operating cost improvements and other value-added features in its engines to enable our customers to benefit from this technology,” the statement said. “Our customers have utilized and had success with the performance of these engines in trucks, buses and RVs across millions of miles in North America.”

Cat left the truck- and bus-engine business at the end of 2009 when ever-tighter federal emissions limits made compliance increasingly expensive.

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