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Several class action lawsuits claim that Mercedes BlueTEC diesels violate emissions laws by shutting off pollution-cleaning features when temperatures drop below 50ºF. The vehicles were marketed as “environmentally friendly,” but consumers were not informed of increased emissions in cold temperatures.

What is BlueTEC?

Mercedes BlueTEC was marketed as “Clean Diesel” because it has a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to convert NOx into harmless nitrogen and oxygen. It also has a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to trap and remove particles (soot).

Mercedes BlueTEC Class Action

In February 2016, Mercedes-Benz was sued for allegedly using software to bypass emissions laws. Coming amid a similar scandal involving Volkswagen, the class actions claim Mercedes installed an illegal device to shut off an emissions-control system when temperatures drop below 50ºF.

Mercedes insists the feature is not illegal and is designed to prevent condensation that could cause corrosion in the engine and exhaust system. However, lawyers say the vehicles spew toxic exhaust up to 65-times the federal limit, and 19-times on average.

The first class action (PDF) was filed by Ulyana Lynevych, a woman from Illinois who bought a Mercedes ML 350 SUV in August 2014. Her decisions was based in part on marketing materials promoting the BlueTEC Clean Diesel vehicle as “environmentally friendly.”

She says Mercedes never informed that the pollution-limiting features only work when the temperature is above 50ºF. According to the complaint:

“Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be ‘clean’ diesels when it is warm, but are ‘dirty’ diesels when it is not. Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people.”

The same Seattle-based law firm representing Lynevych has filed two more class actions (PDF) on behalf of plaintiffs in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

What Do Class Actions Demand?

They are seeking to represent everyone in the United States who bought an affected vehicle. They also want an injunction that would force Mercedes to recall the vehicles, provide loaner cars while they are being repaired, and compensate owners for lost resale value.

Fixing Software Could Impact Performance and Resale

The impact of the scandal on resale value has yet to be determined. Simply updating the software to fix the problem could impact vehicle performance and longevity. However, it remains unclear whether Mercedes will be forced to repair the vehicles.

Diesel NOx Pollution and Health Problems

In response to the class actions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked Mercedes for an explanation. The agency regulates diesel emissions because they cause pollution and health problems. Diesel fuel is more powerful and efficient than gasoline, but produces much more nitrogen-oxide (NOx), a toxic gas that has been linked to respiratory problems, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and cancer.

List of Mercedes BlueTEC Diesel Vehicles

  • ML 320
  • ML 350
  • GL 320
  • S 350
  • E 320
  • R 320
  • E Class
  • GL Class
  • ML Class
  • R Class
  • S Class
  • GLK Class
  • GLE Class
  • Sprinter