This case concerns a breach of warranty and an intentional failure to disclose material facts and safety concerns to consumers. The defendant vehicle manufacturer allegedly designed their vehicle systems such that they were prone to premature failure. Plaintiffs were informed that the vehicle was designed to last for 12 years without the need for repair. However, many vehicle systems required significant and expensive repairs within the first 3 years of purchase. It was alleged that the system design presented serious safety concerns and placed the drivers and passengers of these vehicles at risk. An automotive-engine design engineering expert was sought to discuss how this defect can affect engine performance and vehicle safety.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience with the engineering / design of automobile engines and engine components.
- 2. Can you speak to the dangers posed by an engine defect such as this?
Expert Witness Response E-083101
I have 21 years post-PhD in academic research on the vibration of belt and gear power transmission systems. I also have detailed experience with timing drives and chain/belt drives in general from 10 years of academic research on belt/timing drive vibration, 7.5 years of timing drive patent litigation consulting, and a research career centered on drivetrain systems. I have received numerous national awards for my research contributions. Timing chains should last for the normal life of a vehicle. In contrast to timing belts, the metal chains are chosen because of longevity, despite the higher cost. Premature failure is indeed a serious issue that almost certainly involves unexpectedly high dynamic loading. Timing chain failures are extremely damaging to the vehicle and its engine, perhaps rendering the engine useless, in addition to the fact that chain failure immediately and without warning prevents the car from operating, which is undoubtedly dangerous when considering all the situations where this might occur (highway, high-speed intersection, night, poor visibility, etc.) I know well how timing drives work in cars and what causes the dynamic forces that lead to failure. I have published extensively on the vibration of automotive belt drives in leading academic journals and given lectures at each of the major U.S. automotive companies on the research I conducted. I have experience in expert consulting for class action, patent, and civil litigation cases.