Frustrated Customers Sue Cat Over Acert Failures, But All Engines Have Problems, Sources Say

August 13, 2010

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Continual breakdowns, ineffective repairs and financial losses from disrupted operations have pushed frustrated fleet owners to sue Caterpillar Inc., along with the truck and engine dealers who sold and tried to fix the trouble-prone heavy duty diesels.
Problems with Caterpillar Acert engines have prompted some truck owners to file a lawsuit. (Photo by Steve Sturgess)
Problems with Caterpillar Acert engines have prompted some truck owners to file a lawsuit. (Photo by Steve Sturgess)

Meanwhile, another suit against Cat and one other builder is pending in Arkansas, a source told Heavy Duty Trucking. But no details of that suit were available at this writing.

The Texas lawsuit chronicles problems with Caterpillar C15 Acert engines produced with exhaust emissions equipment designed to meet federal limits imposed in January 2007. The suit involves 90 Cat-powered trucks run by three fleets. No 2010-spec engines are involved.

Stories of numerous problems with diesels since the Environmental Protection Agency's October '02/January '04 limits took effect have since been circulating in the industry. But fleet executives have tried to get satisfaction from builders rather than through lawsuits, and builders have said they are fixing problems while improving newer products.

The Texas Suit

Miller, Curtis & Weisbrod LLC, of Dallas, filed the suit March 4 in a Bowie County circuit court. The firm says more fleets have joined the complaint, and it's advertising for disgruntled owners of Cat C13 and C15 engines to contact its attorneys for possible inclusion in the suit. The ads brought the suit to light; the law firm has since commented on it to HDT, which is seeking comment from the defendants.

The suit names as defendants Caterpillar Inc., plus its "agents," Warren Power & Machinery, the Cat dealer, and Rush Truck Centers of Texas, a large Peterbilt dealer. Both dealers have locations in Texarkana, Texas, where the Cat-powered trucks were sold and serviced.

Plaintiffs are Thomason Trucking Inc., Paul Trucking Inc., and Tapley Forestry Service, all based in Oklahoma. They bought a total of 90 trucks with C15 engines in 2007 and 2008, but were not warned of the engines' defects, the suit says.

Cat and its dealer representatives "assured plaintiffs Thomason, Paul and Tapley that the engines were in perfect working order and without defects," which "induced" the fleets to buy the engines, the suit states. "However, the engines were defective when purchased" by the fleets.

"Defendant Warren and Defendant Rush have been in the business of selling Caterpillar engines for many years and knew or should have known of the defects to the Caterpillar engines," the suit continues. "Not long after plaintiffs received these engines, plaintiffs began to experience problems with the trucks these engines were installed in, which put the trucks out of service."

Consequently, the fleets "suffered substantial financial losses and other damages," the suit charged. It does not specify monetary amounts, but probably will when the law firm amends the suit, said Attorney Warren Armstrong, who is working with Miller, Curtis & Weisbrod's lead lawyer on the case, Clay Miller.

The suit charges fraud, breach of contract, breach of implied and express warranties, and violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade and Practices Act. Under this law, the trucking companies are consumers who can sue Cat and its dealers, the suit says. And bcause of the alleged fraud, defendants are entitled to treble damages.

"In particular it's the regeneration system" in the C15 Acert engines' exhaust - "clogged injector heads, sensor malfunctions, something wrong with fuel line - for whatever reason, it doesn't regenerate as it's supposed to," Warren said of the system's diesel particulate filter. "The ECM will then tell the engine to shut down."

"When you're in business to haul over the road and this happens, it's very difficult to continue" because trucks and drivers are stranded until repairs are made. And the breakdowns happen repeatedly because dealer technicians can't properly fix them. "They're scared," he said of truck owners, "because you don't know where it will happen... It's not if, but when" the malfunctions and breakdowns will occur.

Beyond Caterpillar

Caterpillar formally left the North American truck-engine market in late 2009, just before EPA's 2010 regulations took effect. It produced EPA-'07 Acert-model diesels before the deadline and many were installed in Peterbilt, Kenworth and International trucks. Many Cat Acert engines are in service and Cat had promised to back them, but customers have said this hasn't happened.

Cat last year stopped sending representatives to regular meetings of the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations. So Cat reps have not been not present to answer complaints made through that group, leading to more disgruntlement.

But all builders' engines have had problems, said Darry Stuart, a consultant and fleet manager and a past general chairman of TMC. Cat has been named in the lawsuit, but he thinks there may be as many or more issues with Cummins diesels, partly because there are more Cummins engines out there.

Builders have had "a ton of problems" with engines produced since emissions regulations were first seriously tightened in late 2002, Stuart said. In general, engines don't run long before major problems begin, and customers can't understand why. Builders pay for repairs until warranties run out, then owners are on their own.

"You ask them (manufacturers), 'What is the B50 life?'" - the point at whick at least half the engines shouls still be running - Stuart said. "They'll say maybe 750,000 miles. So the assumption is you should get at least B50 life without major failures, including turbos, EGR coolers, other parts. And that's not the case.

"When we buy a truck we're paying $20,000 for the motor and probably $10,000 for the emissions system, so now we're paying $30,000 for it and we expect to get at least B50 life out of them," Stuart said of all truck diesels. "And we're not."

However, some complaining truck owners turn out to be guilty of not maintaining the engines properly, he said. They fail to change oil regularly, idle the engines too much, do not perform certain work specific to exhaust-aftertreatment equipment, and in general are either negligent or ignorant of the new diesels' needs.

Many in the industry place ultimate blame for the situation on the federal EPA, which forced increasingly strict exhaust limits on the industry in a short time frame, while dismissing warnings that the equipment devised to meet the limits couldn't be properly tested and would be very expensive. Truck owners' experiences have proven at least some of the warnings to be true.


  1. 1. Eagle Valley South inc [ July 10, 2013 @ 10:33AM ]

    My c13 cat engine has broke down 6 times in 70k miles and is under warranty. They keep fixing it but it doesnt last. When is enough ,enough. Are there any class action lawsuits going on, and can I get onboard . I lost over 50k plus costumers over this in less than one year and 70k miles.Any lawfirms that would add me to thier list please respond.

  2. 2. Bennie Richardson [ July 11, 2013 @ 01:07PM ]

    My CAT 2008 C13 has had numerous operating failures due to the exhaust emission control. I have only had it in service is eight months and it has been time consuming and costly in repairs.

  3. 3. Robert Bryant [ July 27, 2013 @ 12:00PM ]

    We have a 2008 C25 Acert in a Peterbuilt that was in the shop 11 times in 2012 with emission problems as well as others. In the first week of March it was in the shop then in the last week of March the motor came apart with the bolts comming our of the rocker arm. Every time in the shop it was in a Cat shop. No time since being purchased new has it got over 70k miles without being in the shop and as few as 200 miles. When the motor came apart it has 300k miles. I would also like to get in on the law auite

  4. 4. G McDaniel [ August 05, 2013 @ 01:15PM ]

    I purchased a 2005 Van Hool coach with a Cat engine. I specifically asked the sales person about the engine when I inspected it because of Caterpillar going out of business. He assured me it wasnot one of the engines with the problem. This coach has been back and forth in the shop with one indicator light on or another since Nov 2012 when purchased. No one seems to be able to locate the problem, It has been rebooted and sensors changed. When these sensor first started to appear I did not move it for a month in fear it would shut down. It almost put shut down on the interstate with a coach full of high school students. Money lost money place into repairs and it has not made 15000 miles.

  5. 5. Neil smith [ October 22, 2013 @ 04:31AM ]

    I have a c15 ascert in Western Australia doing a job grossing 140 tonnes and it has been the biggest pile of shit I have ever owned I would have the old 3406 engines or the original c15 engines any day.this emission bullshit does not work.

  6. 6. Bowers Trucking [ November 24, 2013 @ 06:36AM ]

    I have a 2007 c13(470), I bought this truck with 270000 and at 300 the the turbos went and ever since the truck has been nothing but problem,now the truck has 410000 and it needs a engine rebuild, it uses 2 qts of oil every 200 miles, This truck is the biggest piece of shit I ever bought, I use to be a cat man now they r nothing but junk,The best way to get away from this emmisions is look for the 3406e engines and buy a glider.

  7. 7. Robin [ January 03, 2014 @ 08:43AM ]

    I a 2011 peterbuilt c13 it's carhauler truck I got this truck with 30,000 miles now has 302006, miles since I got it every weekend on my days "off" I have to spen it on the truck with a cat mechanic not counting that it has bent some time at rush truck center 6 times 2 or 3 weeks each time, my first truck, not a great experience,cat suck big time, it used to be good, now the head has to be replace (Ty California for you emission idea)

  8. 8. billy bob [ January 06, 2014 @ 09:25PM ]

    I have worked for 2 cat dealers for 10 years and half you guys are retarded. All engine builders have been having problems meeting these regulations. All engine manufacturers have to meet emissions tiers ever so many years. That is why we have been seeing diesel engines advance in technology in the last 20 years. If you bought a 2005 coach, that is built off 2004 acert engine, which does not apply to this webs site. 04 acert does not have exhaust treatment. 07 acert (manufacturered 07-10) does. I have worked on a lot of coaches and half the problem are bus wiring and lack of maintenance. Oh, and caterpillar is not going out of business, they are the biggest dirt move company in the world, they are into generators, ship engines, logging, etc. And now they are working with international and have a cat truck ct660 for north america markets and outside the USA, international rebranded cat trucks. Now, Australia emissions are different then north america emissions. I think your engines are more like 04 acert engines with passive dpfs. 3406s shift different that acerts and is the truck spec. Right from the dealer to haul 140 tons????. That is a lot of weight, if the truck is not speced. Right......... Now to the 07 acert, 07 acert is a brilliant design when is it working right, but it is too complicated and to much to go wrong. You have a filter in the exhaust which is a restriction that causes low power when not maintence or regen. System malfunctions. Cat uses a system called CGI which is egr pulled after the dpf. You are forcing the engine to eat its own shit. I would like to see you eat your own shit and see how long you last. If I had a 04 acert or older I would buy a glider kit and would not touch anything with egr and dpfs. We need to change and clean up our air BUT now it has gone to far. The tech. Is not quite there. You can't blame the builders, if epa was not pushing these levels to where they are cat would be building 6nz, mbn, kal, still.

  9. 9. haitham [ February 13, 2014 @ 10:33PM ]

    Tightening the head of the engine Cat C11 Machines
    how mach?

  10. 10. Joe [ February 26, 2014 @ 10:02AM ]

    I just purchased a 2010 kenworth t660 with a c15 475. I just averaged 5.6 mpg going to Florida. Is that normal with 42000 lbs coming from Ohio. Is anyone have any good tips on what I can do to get better fuel mileage thanks, joe

  11. 11. Terence [ March 31, 2014 @ 05:25PM ]

    Well I have been reading all the comment. I'm just about to buy a 09 386 peterbilt and you guys are scaring me the truck has had a inframe done at 576000 and it now has 626000 should I buy it

  12. 12. geredsv [ April 07, 2014 @ 08:44PM ]

    I own two trucks one pete with a c15 what a headache and waste of money replacing regeneration head one every 10 months plus the filter clogging and the regeneration every month for 35 mins while in the other hand the freightliner with a detroit only do the regeneration once a year and and only had a problem with EGR once in 3 years and its not that expensive that CAT mechanic that comment is lost in my cat c15 always been fixed by a cat technician at a cat dealer and still giving the same problem

  13. 13. TruckerMatt [ May 31, 2014 @ 06:11PM ]

    I have a 2008 Peterbilt with CAT C15 Acert Twin Turbo. Once again it goes every 150 miles and then it says Regen Required. Same problem I had a year ago. I am down doing the regen for 45 minutes every 150 miles. It has been in the shop repeatedly with problems. I get only 4.8 mpg hauling loaded only 50% of the time. My older 3406C engine got 6.5 mpg and never ever had problems. I am close to bankruptcy and cannot make it with a truck that is in the shop so often at exhorbatant costs and no production. HOW DO WE GET ON THE CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST CAT?

  14. 14. J [ August 21, 2014 @ 12:32PM ]

    To date no one can build an engine that complies with epa's rules and still have the power, fuel mileage and reliability of what we have enjoyed in the past. Fuel is no longer the same diesel it once was either. Burns hotter less efficient puts more stress on components fuel filter life proves this. Please don't single out one engine builder they all have the same problems. In my fleet, books show 2003 and older trucks to be more reliable and profitable even with added maintenance of million mile plus trucks. Truly a sad time for the heavy diesel engine market in north america

  15. 15. chris [ October 18, 2014 @ 03:15PM ]

    c15 t2000, lost of problems oil pressure gauge goes up and down , starving for fuel, low turbo boost

  16. 16. carlos [ October 20, 2014 @ 10:13PM ]

    I have worked for cat dealers as well and we constantly get 1000000 kilometers on c15 engines in Africa

  17. 17. Ramiro [ November 03, 2014 @ 05:04PM ]

    It is a big pain drive any owner crazy to much broke down on c13 & c15 2008

  18. 18. John [ October 22, 2017 @ 01:15PM ]

    Any shop can tell you the EPA simply pressured engine makers to make compromises that met regulations, but reduced durability. Nobody likes to admit that a pre 2007 is better and more reliable. But in essence it is, and then add to it extended drain intervals, lack of proper maintenance on time, and the increased temps and complexity of engines post 2007. That's a recipe for more issues. Maybe this is why fleets replace trucks before all the problems being? But of course this leaves a used truck buyer with a increased potential for buying a truck with costly problems.


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