Woman Sues Honda Over Gas Mileage

A California woman has sued Honda alleging Honda exaggerated the miles per gallon she could expect. A small claims judge agreed with her.

After purchasing a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, the Plaintiff expected that her vehicle would get the 50 miles per gallon that it advertised. Instead, it was only getting around 30, and never got more than 42 (personally, I’d be thrilled if my car got 30 miles per gallon, let alone 42). So she sued, asking that Honda pay for her trouble and the extra money that she spent on gas.

The judge ruled that Honda misled her when it claimed that its Civic hybrid could drive up to 50 miles on a gallon of gas, and awarded her more than $9,800 in damages.

Interestingly enough, instead of joining other Honda owners in a class-action lawsuit, she filed in small claims court (she’s a former lawyer, no surprise there). She said that a small claims suit could cost the company up to $10,000 in her case, and with 200,000 of these cars out there, if every other individual owner filed in the same manner, “That’s a potential payout of $2 billion.” She said that she doubts that all other owners will take the same route, but suggests that the penalty could be substantial for the company if a large percentage of the owners file individually.

As you might expect, Honda plans to appeal the decision. Ultimately, I think this is a good lawsuit because it keeps car manufacturers honest. But I don’t particularly like these cases, particularly filed as individual cases just because they clog up our court system with relatively insignificant damages without physical injury. If you think Honda is not playing straight with its MPG estimate, buy a Ford.

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