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Heather Peters sued Honda after her car didn't achieve ... Heather Peters sued Honda after her car didn't achieve the MPG she expected (AP).
A judge has overturned a ruling that allowed a California woman to collect nearly $10,000 from Honda in small-claims court because her vehicle received lower-than-advertised fuel economy.

Heather Peters sued American Honda Motor Co. after achieving far less than the 50 miles per gallon she expected from her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, and improbably won a $9,867.19 judgment against the company in February.

Although he said Honda's advertising slogans amounted to "sales puffery," Judge Dudley W. Gray II said in his Tuesday reversal that they did not make specific MPG promises. His ruling noted that the majority of Civic Hybrid drivers came close to meeting the mileage estimate provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The decision, handed down in California Superior Court, is final. The state's laws do not allow for further appeals.

"It's a sad day when regulations designed to protect consumers are used against them," Peters said in a written statement. "I'm certain that the EPA and FTC never intended to shield Honda from liability for advertising claims that a court of law determined to be false."

The window sticker for the '06 Civic hybrid cites EPA mileage estimates of 49 miles per gallon in the city and 51 MPG on the highway. Peters said, at best, she got 37 MPG from her vehicle, and that fuel economy further deteriorated after Honda provided a software update for the car's battery.

In court testimony during the appeal, a technician said he achieved an MPG average close to 50 in an '06 Civic Hybrid. But Peters' actual vehicle was not tested during the litigation.

In a written statement, Honda said it was pleased with the ruling, "which affirms that Honda was truthful in its advertising of the fuel economy potential of the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid."
The lawsuit had attracted considerable attention within the auto industry, not only because automakers have trumpeted their fuel economy ratings in attempts to attract shoppers concerned about rising gas prices, but because Peters had opted out of a class-action lawsuit over the same issues with Civic Hybrids built between 2003 and 2009.

When she initially won in February, her victory emboldened others dissatisfied with the $100 to $200 proposed settlement, which also came with a rebate off future purchases. According to court records, 1,705 people opted out of the settlement, which gave them the leeway to, like Peters, pursue an individual case.

In reality, few have followed her path. Only 18 have brought small-claims court lawsuits, and Honda has prevailed in 17 of the verdicts, according to spokesperson Chris Martin. The class-action lawsuit, Lockabey v. American Honda Motor Co., was settled in March.

"We are never satisfied when a customer is anything less than satisfied with one of our products, and the company does not relish the necessity to defend the truth in opposition to any of our customers," Martin said in a statement.

Although the victories have been good for Honda, there have been other disconcerting numbers. Last year, sales of the Civic Hybrid fell 37.1 percent from 2010, dropping from 7,336 to 4,703, according to sales figures from Autodata Corp.

So far this year, those numbers may recover. The Civic Hybrid had sold 2,862 units through April, which puts it on pace for 8,586 annually in 2012. But the Civic Hybrid lags behind competitors like the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which have already sold 86,027 and 15,143 units through the first third of the year.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Peters said in her statement. "But I'm still glad that I raised awareness that Honda is no longer the great brand that it used to be. They used to go the extra mile in customer service. Now they go the extra mile fighting customers in court."


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  • 462 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh, Waaaa! These people buy these cars and continue to drive like Racers evey where they go. In my travels I am passed buy these car going 20-30MPH over the limits constantly. Why would they think they will get advertised milage? I think the court made a good dession on this. The way you drive is 50% of your milage..
      ppchao
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had a Honda and my was the generation before hers. I was getting anywhere from 44-46 miles per gallon. My wife is more of a leadfoot and she would get 38 mph. It all depends on the person driving. Of course she is a Democrat and thus she is NOT responsible for anything and everybody else is responsible for her problems, thus she sued. The All American way to get money, don't earn it, sue for it
        ticknert2
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ppchao
        Of course you are a fool and have just shown your a$$. Silly baggie.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ppchao
        Republicans never sue? Right, and they never lie either.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have the same car as ms peters.Mine will only get 29 miles per gallon.I have written honda 3 times.They will not call or write back.Never buy a honda again!!!!!
        jahwehschild
        • 3 Years Ago
        On three occasions, I've looked into getting a honda and good sense prevailed everytime, am I glad!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm going after Hyundai. EPA states that my brand new 2012 Hyundai Elantra is expected to run 29/40 mpg. However, I'm receiving 10/17 mpg. Got it inspected and Hyundai told me there were no problems with the car and that driving style might be the issue. Nonsense! I've driven plenty of cars and never had a problem like this before. Even the worst drivers should expect to receive more than 70% of the estimated mpg. This is totally unacceptable and I'm going to demand a refund or take them to court. I would trade my car with her Honda Civic anytime. 35mpg is still extremely good... for me at least.
        whamhammer
        • 3 Years Ago
        The estimates are per EPA testing standards, maybe the EPA and its testing standards are the ones you should be after. A few years ago, the EPA had to change thier test protocols because no cars were getting the suggested fuel mileage/
        whamhammer
        • 3 Years Ago
        I know quite a few people who own the new Elantra, and none of them have averaged less than 25 mpg. How much stuff is in your car, what is your driving style, fuel quality and where you drive are key in detrmining actuall fuel mileage. Also, turn the "Eco" button on, the test was done with that engaged.
      pat
      • 3 Years Ago
      just a poor loser who didn't get more than her 15 minutes of fame......really? a lawsuit over this?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hmmmm do you think numbers dropped because of the devistation in Japan??? I have an 06 Civic with over 218,000 miles on it,. I average between 36-39 mpg and at best 41 MPG. The brand of gas does have a lot to do with MPG and the way you drive. I chose to not get a Hybrid because most of my miles are HWY. If you are driving a lot in the city under 45 MPH then a Hybrid might benefit. I am happy Honda Customer. Great Tires, Regular oil changes, good gas and responsible driving make for good MPG. That can all go down the toilet if all are not followed.
        • 3 Years Ago
        41 is good but its not 49 to 51 as per est!!!!
      redcapline
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, its Honda-just crap, just like Terd-ota, more Jap Crap. REAL AMERICANS BUY AMERICAN MADE CARS AND TRUCKS FROM AMERICAN COMPANIES-PERIOD.
        papachuck63
        • 3 Years Ago
        @redcapline
        My last two Real American cars were made it Mexico!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @redcapline
        Who died and anointed you King of Real Americans? I can state categorically YOU do not speak for ME! Oh and do you know where all the part contents come from to build American autos? Thought not.
      Samm
      • 3 Years Ago
      Word of mouth is the only thing that will make manufacturing accountable. If no one buys, they will change - and only then.
      Freddy De Joint
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nobody ever tells the truths, companies, parents, polications, cops, courts, etc, etc, Did she or anybody else expected anything differnct?
      ddiribbons
      • 3 Years Ago
      You see products advertised everyday on TV that do not work, but no one does anything about it. The biggest fraud is that company that advertises Flex Seal. Go on line and google complaints against Flex Seal, and you will see what I mean. And don't depend on our great federal government to do anything about these scams.
      Peter Brown
      • 3 Years Ago
      If the judge says puffery it might be a good idea to find out how far he thinks puffery goes on a gallon of gas. They estimate 50MPG but the car gets 20MPG is 30 MPG a decent puffer? Where does hot air intersect with a puff? Is there any clean air in that Puff or is it all gas for the corporations, and if corporations are people would puffery just be flatuelence or burps? Weighty legal issues that the courts were not going to get in to, especially on the day in 1886 of the anniversary when the Santa Clara Court started that whole chain that eventually lead to Citizens United Decision.
      Sooner 1
      • 3 Years Ago
      selling my honda, this was wrong simply wrong
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sooner 1
        I'll buy it! But it better be cheap since you thing they're such bad cars.
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