Class Action Lawsuit Targets Nasty Mercedes-Benz HVAC Systems

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A lawsuit filed by two Georgia Mercedes-Benz owners accuses the automaker of failing to rectify a long-standing HVAC problem and stiffing customers with the bill.

Sunil Amin and Trushar Patel claim the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in numerous models dating to the turn of the century are inherently faulty and want Mercedes-Benz and its parent, Daimler AG, to pay damages. They also want the suit to grow into a class action.

The plaintiffs say the issue started a noxious odor emitted from the vehicles’ vents and, despite attempts to have the issue fixed, nothing the automaker has done has made a difference.

Amin owns a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250, while Patel owns a 2014 Mercedes E350. Both say the vehicles began emitting mold and mildew odors shortly after their purchase, attributing the unpleasant aroma to buildup of those growths in an improperly drained HVAC system.

The automaker knew about the problems well in advance of the sale of their vehicles, the suit claims. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, points to technical service bulletins issued by Mercedes in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016. Each TSB sent to dealers describes a moldy odor. Complaints were also logged with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation as early as 2008.

While the dealer documents gave tips on how to remove the odors, the plaintiffs claim the “inadequate and temporary solutions” are merely “band aids.” Attempts to fix the issue by replacing the cabin air filter, “flushing the system” and applying cleaning agents didn’t work, they allege, adding the job wasn’t covered under warranty.

Because of this, they claim, owners will likely incur out-of-pocket expenses for a long time. Hence the class action, which is open to all Georgia Mercedes drivers.

The plaintiffs, represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, were dismissed from a similar California class action in March after a U.S. District Court judge demanded only California residents behind the suit. Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. of the Central District of California has allowed the suit to advance.

Numerous models sold between 1999 and 2017 are named in the Georgia lawsuit. Those vehicles include various model years of nearly every vehicle in the Mercedes lineup, as the models contained identical or similar HVAC systems at different times.

[Source: Law360] [Image: Mercedes-Benz]

Steph Willems
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  • RobbieAZ RobbieAZ on May 25, 2017

    I have a 2016 C450 and run the AC every day, even in the winter, and have never noticed any odor in that car. This is actually the best climate control system I've ever had.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on May 26, 2017

    The humidity of the area in which you live has a huge impact on car A/C odors, as does the timing of your use of fresh or recirculated air and the length of your trips. There are ways to mitigate it, or you can just accept it. I have been dealing with this for as long as I have been driving, in cars from every major manufacturer. If you live in Phoenix, it probably won't be an issue. Southern/Gulf states, probably a problem.

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on May 26, 2017

      I think there are other environmental factors too. When I worked in Northern Alberta for a couple years, the A/C in my '87 Grand Am smelled horrible every morning, like a humidifier wet filter does after a few weeks of use. I'd have to drive with the windows down for the first few minutes until it cleared. Turning off the A/C for the last few minutes of each drive and running the fan to dry out the evaporator didn't help. I thought I was going to have to do something about it eventually, but when I returned to central Saskatchewan, the smell immediately disappeared and never returned. I figure it must have been the result of some airborne dust or pollen. My girlfriend at the time would experience allergy symptoms whenever she was there but nothing while at school in Central Alberta.

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  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.