Lawsuit says Suzuki outboard overheats

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Two men in Alaska are suing American Suzuki Motor Corp., alleging that the company's DF300 outboard overheats, causing safety concerns and shortening the life of the engine, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was filed in June in Superior Court in the First Judicial District at Ketchikan. Suzuki, which has not yet answered the complaint, asked that the case be moved to federal court.

The suit was filed by Ronald Moyer and Kevin Beck, who are seeking class-action status for the case. They have asked to represent a class of people who purchased Suzuki DF300 outboards and were Alaska residents at the time of purchase.

Moyer said that at the end of the 2008 season he learned that the fuel economy of the engine was dropping and tests discovered "substantial valve bypass," according to court documents.

"Examination of several Suzuki DF300 engines operated in the waters near Ketchikan also disclosed a pattern of valves, valve guides and valve seats with dimensions falling outside of design tolerances," the suit alleges. "Examination of Suzuki DF300 engines has also found, among other problems, cylinders that are out of round."

These problems are indicative of overheating, the suit says. This will lead to reduced service life of the engine and "compromised Moyer's ability to use the Suzuki DF300 engines safely while also achieving Suzuki's intended low emissions of pollution and good fuel economy."

It also causes a dangerous situation on the water, according to court documents.

Moyer said he is aware of at least 40 sales that fall within the proposed class definition and he believes that the class consists of more than 100 potential claimants.

The suit requests that claimants receive three times the amount of actual damages or $500 a violation, whichever is greater, as well as other relief.

A representative from Suzuki said the company could not respond to pending litigation.

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