On the Car Pro Radio Show and also in our free weekly newsletter, we have covered extensively the VW diesel scandal, and now are watching closely the Fiat Chrysler issue with its 3.0 EcoDiesel that comes in the Ram and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
So what is my advice to those of you who own a VW, Audi, or Porsche diesel?
If you currently own a 4-cylinder VW diesel, I still think it is wise to wait before making the decision on whether to let them buy back your car, or wait until we know how the repair is going to affect the vehicles. I totally understand that the money VW is offering is incredible. I heard from a listener last week who had a 2012 Jetta diesel with 154,000 miles on it, it had been in a serious accident so had a bad history report, and VW paid him $16,400 for his car. That is easily $10,000 more than the true value. He did the right thing letting the car go.
For most people, however, I think you have to think back to when you bought your VW and why you bought it in the first place.
I recommended VW diesels to people who drove a lot of miles, who were looking for great fuel economy, and also people who wanted to get over 300,000 miles out of a car. The VW diesels were exceptional for all those needs. The problem is if you take the buy back money, as tempting as that is, what do you buy now?
If you like the VW brand, luckily its gas engine lineup has gotten increasingly more fuel-efficient and the incentives have been really good to try to make up for the lost sales of diesels. If you want to stay with a diesel, you’ve got to go to one of the luxury brands like Mercedes, BMW, or Jaguar. We know Chevy is bringing back the Cruze diesel and it will probably be a good choice for many VW diesel owners, but it’s still a ways off and I expect production numbers to be fairly small.
So why do I say to wait?
There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost, as mentioned earlier, we don’t know if the cars are going to perform as well after they become compliant. I think we’ll know soon how the fuel economy is going to be affected, and if it takes a big drop, you may get better mileage with a gasoline engine. Also, if you wait, there may be more choices in diesels, and we know fuel economy across the board goes up every year.
You have until September of 2018 to take the buy back, and the mileage penalties for continuing to drive the car are minimal. Be aware that the only risk of continuing to drive your TDI is if it gets totaled. If that happens, VW is off the hook and your insurance will kick in.
Currently, we are trying to verify what will happen to 3.0-liter TDIs in the VW, Audi, and Porsche brands. There is a plan to compensate all owners, and also you will have the choice of a buy back or fixing 2013 and newer models. The details have not yet been approved, but I expect that announcement soon.
If you have one of the Fiat Chrysler EcoDiesel models, for sure hold on.
Don’t trade your vehicle off until we know if it can be repaired without harming performance, if there will be compensation, or if there will be a buy back offering.
No matter which diesel you own, give this serious thought on the best move for you and stay tuned to the show and the newsletter.