I am getting a lot of questions from listeners of the Car Pro Radio Show, wondering what they should do about their VW diesels since this scandal drags on. News of the “defeat devices” to trick emissions testing broke on September 18th of this year. Since then, we have had more questions than answers, and that is probably not going to change anytime soon.
VW says there will not be any repairs beginning before January 2016, but that time frame seems pretty uncertain. There are three different versions of the 2.0-liter diesel, and each one will require a different fix to get the cars to pass emission testing legitimately.
So what should you do if you own one of the affected TDI VWs? My advice right now is to do nothing. We need more information before anyone can give good advice. It is important to remember that this is not a safety issue. Frankly, I suspect many TDI owners will not want to make the needed repairs because it will likely dampen performance and will almost certainly cause a drop in fuel economy. Neither the EPA nor the National Highway Traffic Administration can force people to have the repairs made, unless Congress passes a new law tied to registrations or inspection stickers.
In the meantime, VW is trying to appease TDI owners with a $500 gift card good anywhere, and another $500 card good for service at a VW dealership. There are some hoops you have to jump through, like going to a dealership with proof of ownership in order to get the gift cards. No matter how you feel about VW right now, get the gift cards and use them, it will not affect your ability to take legal action down the road.
What about just trading your vehicle off? If you want a gas-powered VW, you can certainly make a trade. There is, in fact, a $2000 additional rebate for those who want to do just that. However, trying to trade it for a different brand is pretty much a waste of your time, the other dealership brands do not want them, and if they trade for them, they cannot sell them. Therefore, they just won’t accept them as trade-ins. You also don’t want to get rid of your car before we know how VW will compensate owners.
Many have asked about joining one of hundreds of class action lawsuits. While that is an individual call each owner must make, my experience with automotive class action suits are that the people who are actually harmed get very little compensation. Besides fixing the vehicles, I believe Volkswagen will have to address loss of value claims with its owners. That could happen through the use of a guaranteed trade value equal to the value prior to September 18, 2015 or it could come in the form of a cash payment. Most likely it will come in an incentive to purchase another VW product, but time will tell us more.
Bottom line: if you own a VW diesel, you have a great car that has a lot of power and gets amazing fuel economy. I believe you will be fairly compensated, and then you will have to make a decision on whether or not you want to have your car brought into Federal Emission compliance. Those people who are environmentally conscious will have the repairs made; others will not want to sacrifice performance. My advice for now is to get your $1000 from VW and wait to see how this unfolds. Check the VW website often for updates. It is www.VWDieselInfo.com.