Currently, Ford has said the testing is incorrect on “certain vehicles”, and lawsuits have been filed involving the Ford Ranger and the F-150. But Graifman says those models may be the tip of the iceberg as more consumers become aware of this issue.
“Our clients indicated they are not getting anywhere near the mileage advertised,” says Graifman. “When the news broke that Ford admitted its testing methods were incorrect and produced artificially high fuel economy ratings --which it advertised and published on the window stickers of certain vehicles-- our phones started ringing. We looked into their complaints and believe other models are affected.” Plaintiffs’ models are all leased vehicles, including a 2017 Ford Escape, 2018 Ford Fusion SE and a 2018 Ford Explorer XLT.
The lawsuit states that Ford also failed to disclose fuel economy ratings to its customers. “Ford knows that consumers are concerned with fuel economy and rising fuel prices, and markets its inflated fuel economy claims to entice consumers to buy or lease Ford vehicles instead of those of its competitors,” according to the lawsuit.
Ford and the EPA
Ford admitted that its testing methods were incorrect with respect to road-load specifications and produced artificially high fuel economy ratings, which it advertised and published on the window stickers of “certain vehicles”. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for providing the fuel economy data that appears on the window sticker of your car based on information provided by the manufacturer – the automakers are responsible for testing their own vehicles with the EPA’s standardized laboratory test procedures and are then required to report the results to the EPA.
The EPA requires auto manufacturers to change or update their MPG (miles per gallon) values on fuel economy labels (window stickers) if information comes to light that show that the values are too high.
Since the mid-1970s, window stickers containing vehicle MPG estimates have been displayed on vehicles pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The EPA/DOT Fuel Economy and Environment window sticker contains MPG estimates that are based on standardized laboratory test procedures to ensure that the MPG estimates are “reliable, repeatable, and fair across different car models,” says Graifman. “This allows the consumer to accurately compare the fuel efficiency among various vehicles.”
Periodically, the EPA updates its methodology to determine fuel economy to reflect the modernization of vehicles and improving vehicle testing. For instance, in 2017 the EPA updated some of the calculations that manufacturers use to determine EPA fuel economy to better reflect newer more fuel-efficient vehicles. According to this Ford class action, manufacturers are only required to test “one representative vehicle—typically a preproduction prototype—for each combination of loaded vehicle weight class, transmission class, and basic engine… In fact, the EPA only reviews and confirms the results of about 15%-20% of the vehicles with their own testing, leaving the majority of vehicle fuel economy testing and reporting to the honor system of the manufacturers.”
Graifman says that Ford has not applied the standards issued by the EPA in 2017 to their testing. “We claim that Ford knew or should have known their testing was incorrect,” explains Graifman. “And Ford has gone through this before—fuel economy was inaccurately reported on its 2013 Fusion and hybrids. As to why they are doing it again, it could be competition pressure and it could also be a complete breakdown in methodology.”
Whatever the reason, people rely on fuel economy ratings. “Using your car to commute to work combined with rising gas prices can result in a heavy debt,” says Graifman. “And in our current state, we could have a spike in fuel.”
Consumers want to know how much they can get back from Ford. Graifman says that being forced to spend more money for fuel could result in:
• Additional fuel to be spent during the life of the car
• Once known it has less fuel economy rating, the car’s resale value is affected negatively.
“Until we know which models are affected, we would retain an expert to calculate the actual differences,” says Graifman.
READ MORE FORD FUEL ECONOMY LEGAL NEWS
If you are considering filing a complaint, Graifman advises that you do your own testing over the course of 10-15 fills. “Record the mileage at the gas station when you fill up and record how many miles you have driven. Then you will get a fairly good idea of MPG. And check your window sticker--when you buy a car, the side window has a sticker; you can also check your window sticker at monroneylabels.com.”