‘Chevy shake’ leads to dangerous issue with nearly a million GM vehicles, lawsuit claims

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The “Chevy shake” is an issue that affects nearly a million vehicles across the country and potentially tens of thousands in the Mid-South. It’s described as “dangerous” in a federal lawsuit.

FOX13 Investigates dug through hundreds of pages of two federal lawsuits filed against auto manufacturer General Motors, the maker of Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet. The lawsuits allege that the company’s manufacturing and placement into vehicles of two eight-speed transmissions created “dangerous” driving conditions for hundreds of thousands of consumers.

The lawsuits allege the shake happens because of GM’s 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions, that it happens when drivers attempt to speed up or slow down, and that the vehicle hesitates and shakes, shudders, or engages in a hard shift when changing gears. It notes the shake as “violent” enough for some drivers to report feeling as though they were involved in an accident.

The list of vehicles includes:

  • 2015-2019 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2017-2019 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2015-2019 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 2016-2019 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2015-2017 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV
  • 2016-2019 Cadillac ATS, ATS-V, CTS, CT6 and CTS-V
  • 2015-2019 GMC Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL; the 2015-2017 Yukon Denali and Denali XL
  • 2017-2019 GMC Canyon

FOX13 Investigates spoke with a man who asked us not to share his face and asked to be called only by his first name, Reggie. He currently drives a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado after trading in his 2017 that he said became riddled with problems within weeks of driving it off the lot.

“It could happen to anybody,” Reggie said.

According to his bill of sale, he paid more than $50,000 for the vehicle. He said he spent at least $3,000 in repairs over three years.

“I changed tires; I changed rims; I tried everything,” Reggie said. “(Dealership mechanics) didn’t find anything. They couldn’t tell me nothing.”

According to the attorney filing the suit and now seeking class-action status, Reggie is one of 800,000 buyers with the same issue, outlining what attorneys said are vehicles made faulty due to “defective automatic transmission fluid.”

“It’s oftentimes been considered like driving over rumble strips at certain speeds,” said Ted Leopold, one of the attorneys behind the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges GM knew about the issue as early as 2014, that they “artificially inflated the purchase and lease price” for the vehicles through a “deliberate non-disclosure,” and that the company was aware of the issue even after people began driving the cars off dealership lots. The attorneys wrote that this is because those buyers began voicing frustration about the issue on online forums, some specifically for discussions about GM vehicles. They also said GM should have known because the issue was written about in online trade publications and because public complaints were left on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

The company chose not to issue a costly recall, said Leopold, and instead issued “technical service bulletins” to GM dealers, which is “an alert to dealerships, informing them of a potential problem in a GM product and advising them how to address the problem when customers complain to GM dealerships,” according to the lawsuit.

“Then and only then do they make some attempt to try and fix it. Ultimately, there is no fix,” said Leopold, speaking with FOX13 Investigates over Zoom.

“They put money and profits to get their vehicles on the roadway,” Leopold said.

It’s an issue that has been investigated by Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke, a consumer investigative reporter at our sister station in Charlotte, for nearly three years.

“In that time, I have gotten more complaints about the so-called ‘Chevy shake’ than any other consumer issue, not related to the pandemic. We have almost 300 complaints to Action 9 here in Charlotte about this issue from drivers in 30 states and Canada,” said Stoogenke.

FOX13 Investigates reached out to GM for a response to our reporting. They did not respond to a request for comment, but they did respond to Action 9 in September.

“Owners should visit their GM dealer (Chevrolet, Buick-GMC, Cadillac). Dealers have service and technical procedures they can enact to address this concern,” a statement from the company said.

The attorneys filing the lawsuit have asked the court to certify the lawsuit as a federal class action, meaning anyone falling under specific qualifications can join.

They’re asking for damages to be determined by a jury.

We want to hear from you. If you believe you now have or have had any of the vehicles listed, please contact the FOX13 assignment desk at news@fox13memphis.com or call 901-320-1340.