Class-Action Lawsuit Accuses Audi of Ignoring Start/Stop System Defect Causing Delayed Braking, Acceleration and Risk of Crash

Attorneys say Audi violated the law when it willfully ignored a defect that can affect power steering, brakes and acceleration in tens of thousands of Audi 2017- 2020 models

ALEXANDRIA, Va.  – A class-action lawsuit filed today accuses Audi of willfully ignoring a defect affecting the auto start/stop system in tens of thousands of 2017 - 2020 Audi vehicles that can “cause the power steering and brake assist to turn off while the vehicle is still moving, and delays acceleration, steering and braking,” according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

The defect at the center of the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, affects all 2017 - 2020 Audi vehicles, excluding electric and hybrid models. The lawsuit states that the defect “could result in injuries or even deaths,” yet Audi refuses to repair or replace the defective systems and continues to sell unsafe vehicles, according to attorneys.

Owners report that Audi dealerships have been of no help, and that in a service bulletin issued by Audi to mechanics in 2018, the automaker acknowledged complaints, but gave no solution.

If you own a 2017 - 2020 Audi and have experienced engine shutdown while still moving, or delays in your brakes, acceleration, power steering when restarting from a stop, find out more about the lawsuit and your rights.

“In its warranty to its own customers, Audi says it is dedicated to ‘exceptional quality, dependability, and peace of mind,’ but it has failed to honor its promise, choosing instead to ignore this defect, keep it from owners and not offer repairs,” said Thomas E. Loeser, Hagens Berman partner and attorney representing the class of vehicle owners. “Audi has historically shown its disregard for playing by the rules in its involvement in the Dieselgate scandal of its parent company Volkswagen, and as we did in that litigation, we intend in this case to hold Audi to the law and accountability it owes consumers.”

The lawsuit accuses Audi of violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as well as multiple state consumer-protection laws, and says the automaker has committed fraudulent concealment. The lawsuit seeks repayment for owners of affected Audi vehicles for repairs they have made, and for Audi’s breach of warranty and failure to act in good faith, among other remedies.

Signs of the Audi Start/Stop Defect

When the defect manifests, owner complaints in online forums indicate that affected vehicles sometimes flash a code for a “start/stop” malfunction. The system installed in gasoline powered models is designed to curtail emissions that occur while the vehicle is stopped in traffic, parked or not moving. Yet attorneys accuse Audi of allowing this system to “come at the cost of reliable operation of the basic safety systems in a car, namely the brakes, steering and acceleration.”

Owners report that the defect shuts down the engine before they have come to a complete stop, which drastically increases the force required to turn the steering wheel and the pedal force required to completely stop the vehicle. After the vehicle is stopped, owners report that the defect creates a delay between when their foot is removed from the brake and when the engine turns back on. During this delay, the driver can't move the steering wheel or accelerate. When the engine finally does turn back on, drivers report that the car lurches forward, rather than accelerating gradually.

“…critical braking, steering and accelerating functions of the Affected Vehicles shut off too soon and restart too late,” the lawsuit states.

Audi Owner Reports: “…dangerous…” and a “major design defect”

Dozens of reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) document the start/stop defect, both indicating that Audi has likely been made aware of the widespread issue. The following are excerpts of owner reports filed with NHTSA:

  • "It is dangerous...car will not respond after a few seconds. ...suddenly the car will surge ahead. This is not an isolated incident..."
  • "This is a major design defect in the auto start/stop system and occurs every time the system is active."
  • "...vehicle feels like the brakes have been artificially and aggressively applied to bring the car to a complete stop before the start/stop engine feature otherwise should have engaged. ...For vehicles following close behind, the effect will be that the Audi vehicle in front of them will appear to lurch to a stop, thus creating a risk of rear-end collision."
  • "I almost got hit because of this and it is very scary not to be able to steer out of the way when necessary!!! This is horrible function of the car which can cause a lot of accidents!!"

Find out more about the class-action lawsuit against Audi for the start/stop defect in its 2017 – 2020 models.

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

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