There are close to half a million of you that have Volkswagen-built 4-cylinder diesel engines. This mess all started close to a year ago when it was discovered that VW had installed a device that would show acceptable levels of emissions during testing, then return to its normal status of putting out unacceptable levels of emissions. We now know that this was one of the reasons the TDI performed so well when it came to power and fuel economy. Simply put, VW was not adhering to the same rules as every other automaker that builds diesels.
As I write this at the end of August 2016, many are asking me what they should do about the VW goodwill packages they are getting in the mail. VW is offering a generous amount of money to repurchase your VW or Audi, clearly more than anyone could sell or trade his or her car for. Whether you sell your car back to VW or not, everyone gets a hefty restitution amount, and last December everyone got $1000 from VW that was intended to buy time with disgruntled TDI owners.
Essentially the big choice to make is whether to keep your VW and have the modifications made (once the California Air Resources Board and the EPA approves the fix) or let VW buy your vehicle back. I have been surprised at the number of people who have told me they really want to keep their TDIs.
So, what should you do at this time? NOTHING. I would not do anything at this point and here’s why: we don’t yet know what effect the emission modifications will have on the cars. Conventional wisdom says it has to drop the fuel economy and power once the defeat device is gone and the vehicle is choked down, but how much will the fuel economy drop? Will you have to begin adding urea like other diesels? We don’t know at this point, and we don’t know when we’ll find out.
With that said, if your biggest concern is the effect on the environment and our air quality, the decision is easy; let VW overpay for your VW or Audi and be done with it, but if you really love your car like many VW dealers do, the decision gets cloudy.
The good news is you have over two years to decide, and the amount VW agreed to pay doesn’t change, except for additional mileage deductions. Of course if you owe money on your car, you’ll have to continue to make payments, but that is money in the bank because with every payment you make, you are building more equity.
One big requirement of the settlement that has not been widely discussed is that VW is required to reach 85% of the affected cars being either bought back or fixed. That is roughly 400,000 people that must do one or the other, but what if no fix is approved? That would mean VW must do more repurchases and may have to sweeten the pot to get more people to let their cars go. Those early people who respond to the buyback would likely miss out on that.
For you lucky owners who have the 3.0-liter TDI, we have no idea what the settlement will be for you or what your options will be, but we hope to know this information soon.
Although the amount VW is willing to pay for your vehicle is tempting, I do not think we have enough answers to make an intelligent decision and there is no downside to waiting until we do. If and when a fix is announced, you can bet testing will be done immediately by independent sources to see how much fuel economy and performance has changed. Once we have that info, I think it will be much easier to make the right decision for you.