A U.S. District Court judge in Illinois has ruled that a class action lawsuit against AutoZone for marketing auto parts the company allegedly knew were defective may proceed.

The suit claims that AutoZone continued to sell timing chain tensioners for Chrysler model vehicles that the company knew were defective and failed to warn consumers about the product defects. The tensioners are sold under the labels SA Gear or Duralast.

The plaintiffs contend that AutoZone advertised the tensioners as meeting or exceeding original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications and that the part is “precision machined with high grade material for greater strength and durability.” AutoZone claims that the representations in the tensioner ads were only product descriptions and did not constitute a written warranty.

However, the judge found that the representations formed an adequate basis for a breach of warranty claim and that the AutoZone ads of the parts at issue meeting or exceeding OEM requirements was a question of fact suitable for a jury to resolve.

In addition, the judge found the plaintiffs have sufficient alleged facts to state a claim for common law fraud, but dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim for fraudulent concealment since there was no stated claim that AutoZone exercised “overwhelming influence” over the plaintiffs.

While allowing the class action to proceed on the breach of warranty and common law fraud claims, the judge dismissed plaintiffs’ claim for breach of implied warranty and their claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The AutoZone Defective Timing Chain Class Action Lawsuit is Steve Williamson, et al. v. S.A. Gear Company Inc., et al., Case No. 3:15-cv-00365, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

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