LOS ANGELES (CN) - Dodge Ram trucks from 2004 to 2012 model years have defective steering that makes them shake "uncontrollably when driven at high speeds," according to a federal class action.
Lead plaintiff Richard Samuel claims that in early 2013 he was driving his 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 on the freeway when the truck began to shake so violently he thought he had had a blowout.
When he got the truck under control and pulled over, Samuel claims, he found nothing wrong with his tires. He says he concluded that what had happened was a one-off.
In fact, he says, he had experienced a "death wobble," caused by a defect in Dodge Rams that makes them shake violently and sometimes uncontrollably at high speeds.
Samuel sued Chrysler Group on Oct. 3. He claims the defect occurs in "certain 2004-2012 Dodge Ram trucks."
Samuel claims that if his truck hits minor bumps in the road or an uneven surface at faster than 50 mph the dreaded "death wobble" kicks in.
To keep his truck under control he has to hold the wheel as firmly as he can, and the shaking stops only when he has brought the truck to a complete standstill, Samuel says.
He says the problem is in the steering linkage system - which should stabilize front wheels when trucks roll over bumps or other uneven surfaces at high speeds.
In the defective Rams the front wheels do not properly stabilize when the trucks go over uneven surfaces, according to the complaint. Eventually, wear and tear results in uncontrollable shaking.
Samuel says he discovered something might be up when a new alignment and tires did not stop the death wobble. An online search revealed that other drivers were dealing with the same problem, according to the complaint.
Eventually, Samuel says, he received a recall notice for the tire rods in his truck. But a technician at a Chrysler dealership told him that his Ram did not include the recalled part.
When he told the dealership about the death wobble, he says, the employees pleaded ignorance and "shrugged their shoulders."
Samuel claims that Chrysler has known about the problem since the mid-2000s, and waited almost half a decade before "conducting a series of botched recalls."
"The recalls omitted many affected vehicles and provided replacement parts that were themselves defective, forcing Chrysler to make additional recalls to remedy previous ones," Samuel says in the lawsuit.
Demand for replacement parts has been so high, Samuel claims, that Chrysler has been unable to fix all trucks that have been brought into dealerships.
He claims that five models of Dodge Rams have the dangerous defect: the 2004-2012 Dodge Ram 2500; 2004-2012 Dodge Ram 3500; the 2007-2012 Dodge Ram 3500 Cab Chassis trucks; 2008-2012 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500; and 2006-2008 Dodge RAM 1500.
He seeks class certification, wants Chrysler enjoined from unlawful business practices, plus disgorgement of profits, restitution, damages for unjust enrichment, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, failure to warn and unfair competition.
Samuel is represented by Eric H. Gibbs with Girard Gibbs of San Francisco, and Gregory F. Coleman with Greg Coleman Law of Knoxville, Tenn.
Chrysler said it had not been served and declined to comment.
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