Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Douglas G. Carnahan was presented this week with the small claims court case by a Los Angeles-based Honda Civic Hybrid owner who alleged fuel-economy misrepresentation, but declined to rule on the case and said he will mail out the decision, the Los Angeles Times reported. Honda representatives refuted the plaintiff's allegation that she was misled.

The plaintiff, 46-year-old Heather Peters, eschewed a class-action case against Honda and instead sued the automaker for the small-claims maximum of $10,000. Peters alleged that Honda advertised her 2006 model to get about 50 miles per gallon but that the car never achieved more than 42 miles per gallon and that the car's fuel economy fell to less than 30 miles per gallon after a software update was performed on the vehicle, the newspaper said.

Honda representative and technical specialist Neil Schmidt said Peters' claim was "ridiculous" and that the automaker wasn't responsible for fuel economy figures reached through independent testing, according to the Times. American Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the automaker offered to work with Peters on the findings but that the plaintiff rejected the offers, adding that Peters wasn't deceived.

Honda was the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in 2007 stemming from what plaintiffs said was an overstatement of the car's gas mileage figures in its EPA ratings for the 2003-07 model years. While the ratings were 49 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon highway, some plaintiffs said they were getting as little as 31 miles per gallon. Honda's Civic Hybrids from 2008 on weren't included in the suit because the EPA changed the methodology for calculating average fuel economy for hybrids so that the ratings would be more realistic.

Honda settled the class-action lawsuit out of court in 2009. The proposed settlement gave Civic hybrid drivers the option to get either up to $1,000 off the purchase of a new Honda or a $100 check if they could prove they complained to Honda about the mileage. After the case was settled, 26 state attorneys general called the settlement "not fair, adequate or reasonable" because the attorneys in the case made far more than the plaintiffs did.

Last year, American Honda sold 4,703 Civic Hybrid vehicles in the U.S., down 36 percent from 2010. The 2012 Civic Hybrid is rated at 44 miles per gallon combined.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      This sounds like something that the EPA could get involved with. Let them do actual scientific testing on this car to get the new numbers that would go on the sticker. Even let some clerk at the judges office drive the car with 5 gallons in it to see how far it goes, trying to make it go as far as it can. Then you have to ask, is the car being properly maintained. With high tire pressure, eco tires, new fuel filter, and other parts that can impact mileage.
        EZEE
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        I would be curious of the software update, but the maintenance, and driving style is huge. Hey Ryan, what kind of car(s) do you have? Always cool to hear what people drive...
        EZEE
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Hey Steve I had asked what his car was - he wasn't just offering that up. A bit of a curiosity of mine, what people drive here. Happily, many people 'walk the walk' on green cars, electric bikes, and even their own feet. Several have electrics, including one person who has a fleet of electrics.
      Taggart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, none of the hybrids get as good mpg as claimed. Consumer Reports showed that the Toyota Prius realistically gets only 44 mpg combined, though rated at 50. And Motor Trend showed that the Ford Fusion hybrid only gets 32 mpg, even though the EPA rates it at 41 mpg. Actually, getting up to 42 mpg doesn't seem bad with '06 hybrid tech. The software update didn't help, but it seems like she (and others) had a problem with their mpg's even before.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey Kids! Try www.realclearenergy.org - a clearing house on energy stories from all over the web (including time, Newsweek, huffington post, etc). If there is an anti EV article, than right near it, there will be a pro EV article. I was tipping ABG ON A PILE of stuff, but figured you could check it out. There is even a whole series on earth quakes tied to fracking on Ohio! Don't say I never gave you people anything! :D
      oollyoumn
      • 4 Months Ago
      Almost every vehicle I've owned, at one time, has taken more gas than the manual stated it could hold. I always attributed it filling the filler neck or temperature changes affecting the tank size. I had a Ford Van that I regularly put 2 -3 gallon more in it than it should have been able to hold. It also could go 150-200 mile before then fuel gauge needle went below the full line. I ran the original tires on that van for 90k mi. They still had plenty of tread, but after 9 years they had almost no traction. They were scary in the rain and suicidal in snow. I replaced them with a set of cheap Kumho's and couldn't believe how much safer it was. Since then I normally don't wait until tires wear out. Driving patterns do play a huge part in mileage and wear. The Ford I kept the longest was while living on a dirt road and drive to the downtown of a major city but was able to use interstate most of the way. One summer I got 6 fills with more than 42mpg. I was so obsessed with accuracy that I would only fill at the same station, same pump, and parked identically. In 6 fills my mileage never varied more than .1mpg between any consecutive fills. (That may be a clue as to why my wife dumped my after 30 years) The front brake pads lasted 180k miles on that car. I sold it with 256k mi, but the engine had never been worked on and it didn't use enough oil in 5k mi to add any. Toward the end I when to 10k mi between oil changes since then engine appeared to be immortal..I never changed the clutch either, even though I taught 2 teenager to drive stick on that car. The last 3 fills averaged 40mpg. I only sold it because it was rear-ended by a inattentive young driver. It should have been totaled, but I convinced his insurance company to let me keep it while getting the full value. It was a pain to not have access to the hatch area, so I sold it within a month. I'm not much of a brand person, so I've owned a variety of cars, including 3 VWs, 3 Fiats and a Peugeot. When I give that information, I feel compelled to add that I am a slow learner. But, even crappy cars can be loveable. I even owned an 85 Colt Vista 4WD. Imagine, a car based SUV (Pre SUV and CUV) with 3 rows of seats facing forward. Now the hottest segment, back then no one thought there was any need for such a vehicle. Good luck with the Fusion. I am vary curious about the specifications of the new one. I hope Ford does not forget this it was value that made them great.
      stevejust
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ryan-- Frankly, what you get in your Saturn is irrelevant to this woman's situation. I had a MT Honda Civic Hybrid when I lived in Dallas and was averaging 46.8 mpg when I lived there. When I moved to Los Angeles, the total lifetime MPG very quickly dropped from 46.8 mpg after driving @30,000 miles in Dallas to 44.1 mpg here in Los Angeles. Honda's IMA system is particularly poorly suited to the constant stopping,starting and low speeds of Los Angeles driving. Conversely, the Toyota synergy drive does really well here. This all said, I got my claims form from the class action and threw it away. While I don't blame Honda necessarily... I went from having several Hondas and Honda motorcycles to now driving a Prius. I went from being very Honda loyal to probably never buying a Honda again. Not because of the mileage so much as their technological innovation lagging so far behind.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is just a bizarre abuse of process by a vexatious litigant. Heather Peters is simply a grandstanding litigant, exploiting the quirks in the US legal system
        JeremyD
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I imagine that she is probably a little pissed off about her real world mileage, and rightfully so, but there seem to be too many variables to really win a (another) case against Honda... the class action case was a joke, as they always are, where only the lawyers are the winners. Similarly our Elantra doesnt come even close to EPA (simply no way you can get 40 on the highway in this car) while our Cruze gets over EPA numbers (40+ avg)... overall we are happy with both cars. No plans to sue Hyundai here :-)
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Just great! Now I have to open a dictionary for Marco's posts. Previously it had been just a history book... ;)
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Ezee, The term 'Vexatious' has a real meaning in the law. A plaintiff can be declared a Vexatious Litigant and is there after denied the right to issue proceeds without special leave and a surety of cost's.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Vexatious - Adjective: Causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry. Denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant. :D
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          I still looked it up.... :)
      Tweaker
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not getting how she can sue in small-claims for $10k when the limit is $7,500.
        stevejust
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Tweaker
        The small claims limit in Los Angeles is $10,000. http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/smallclaims/ui/ Not only does the article say that, so does their website. Different small claims courts have different limits.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a 1995 Saturn with plastic body panels that still look good. It gets better gas mileage than this Civic Hybrid. :) I do my own maintenance on it, check the tire pressure and keep it at the max. I've lowered it 1.5-2" (I can't remember), took off the air dam (I don't drive in stop&go traffic), added a better air intake, change fuel filters every 45,000 miles, and removed the spare tire. I haven't swtiched to a LiFePO4 battery yet to save weight, I wish that they were easily available 4 years ago when I replaced the lead acid one.
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      "26 state attorneys general called the settlement "not fair, adequate or reasonable" because the attorneys in the case made far more than the plaintiffs did." Really? I'm shocked, shocked, that the lawyers made more than the plaintiffs.
        Marco Polo
        • 4 Months Ago
        @throwback
        @throwback Only far more? Incompetence! Tsk tsk, it should have been outrageously more! but it's and odd thing that when State Attorneys General return to private practise, their views undergo a rapid transformation!
      GoodCheer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I should clarify: I do about 10% better than the new updated EPA rating, which is about 8% worse than the then current rating. I do love my Prius: I can fit two bikes in it, it has traction control that has really really impressed me in snow these last two winters, it's smooth and quiet driving, and of course O&M are really low.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had an Escape Hybrid once, it was SO much fun trying to hyper mile it! :) Don't think I have ever talked to anyone that didn't love their Prius!
      oollyoumn
      • 3 Years Ago
      EZEE I am one of those engineer types that calculated using pump readings to1000th of a gallon and even estimating between 10ths on the odometer. I read people complain about on-board mileage computer accuracy, which make me laugh if you trust the odometer. I have even used GPS and mile markers to check my odometer accuracy, but there I have no way to test the pump accuracy. I have lightened up a little with age, but I have a long history of recording mileage. From my experience every car is different, but there appears to be a trend with manufacturers. My worst variations from EPA came from GM cars, with the worst being a difference of more than 20% less than the Pre 08 EPA numbers. I typically did better with Ford with my best being 12% better (Pre 08) for 6 consecutive fills. (I generally only count the average of 3 consecutive fills as representative). I currently drive a Gen3 Prius. My trip computer shows my best trip being 74mpg, but I don't recall that trip. I did have three consecutive fills with an average of 67mpg, but I find that this car has larger variations then previous cars I've owned. When I moved and shortened my route to work to only 4 mile my average when down to the low to mid 50s. Now with only 2.5 miles to work I'm in the high 40s to low 50s. But worst case, even with snow and bitter cold, I have never seen a tank that wasn't in the low 40s. BTW, the trip computer generally errors high, with time between fill-ups having a direct relationship to the amount of error and both the GPS and mile markers show that my odometer error lowered my mileage in this car when the tires were new.
        Marco Polo
        • 4 Months Ago
        @oollyoumn
        @oollyoumn, Please don't take offence but are you really that concerned with the minutia of your fuel consumption? I mean the difference can only amount to a few cents?
        EZEE
        • 4 Months Ago
        @oollyoumn
        Wow - the gas pump - great point. It annoys me when I put in more gasoline than the capacity of the car's tank (inaccurate/cheating pump). My Fusion errors a bit on the high side as well. I will see 33mpg, but it is about 31mpg average - a bit higher or lower depending on city/highway driving (obviously). Engineering type here as well. I am out with the tire gauge and look around the car (see Ryan's post below) when I have a variation on mileage. The side benefit is, I have 79,000 miles on my original tires on the Fusion, and am on the second set of tires on my Ranger, which is well into six figures.... Thanks for the post! :)
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