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Buy a New Car Since 1995? You Could Get Part of a $1 Billion Settlement

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 5 days ago David Muller
New-Car Buyers Could Get a Piece of a $1 Billion Settlement: Consumers in 30 states and the District of Columbia may be eligible. Read more about the specifics at Car and Driver.© Sam Conant - Car and Driver Consumers in 30 states and the District of Columbia may be eligible. Read more about the specifics at Car and Driver.

Americans who bought a new car or truck in the last 23 years could be eligible for compensation, thanks to the largest criminal antitrust investigation in U.S. history. An ongoing settlement, with dozens of auto suppliers that have been accused of price fixing and bid rigging, so far has resulted in more than $1 billion set aside for consumers. In addition, if you leased a vehicle or bought certain replacement parts at any time between 1995 and 2018, you could be eligible.

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How much money claimants will actually get will not be known until after the settlement period has run its course. A deadline for filing claims has not yet been set, although consumers have until July 13 to opt out of the settlement if they want to separately sue any of the defendants.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to see if they’re eligible for a claim can head to www.autopartsclass.com, where they’ll find a drop-down menu to put the year, make, and model of the new vehicle they purchased or leased. The website will say whether the customer is eligible and list the affected part, such as starters, bearings, or power windows, to name just a few of the automotive components affected by the vast price-fixing scheme. Consumers can can also call 877­–940–5043 for more information.

The U.S. Department of Justice revealed the investigation in 2010 after the FBI raided the offices of wire-harness suppliers Denso, Yazaki, and Tokai Rika. Eventually, more suppliers were added to the investigation as the web of antitrust violations was untangled. Several executives were sentenced to prison terms earlier in this decade. As of February 2018, the subsequent civil case spans 41 coordinated class-action cases against more than 160 defendants.

The DOJ has alleged the defendants conspired on a model-by-model basis to set inflated prices for several dozen parts. As mentioned, a range of components including power-window motors, fuel-sending units, switches, starters, spark plugs, hoses, seals, tubes, lamps, and bearings are affected. The coordinated scheme ultimately led to consumers paying more for cars and trucks and for their replacement parts. 

Consumers in the following 30 states and the District of Columbia are eligible for some kind of compensation: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. States not on the list do not have laws permitting recovery of funds in antitrust cases for indirect purchasers, according to a plaintiff’s attorney.

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