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Buying a 2009-16 VW Diesel TDI During the Emission Scandal

Updated on June 7, 2016

The VW TDI has been made since the early 2000’s. When maintained, the easily go 300K miles without a major issue. It’s not a perfect car but its main selling point is 30 MPG in town\40+ MPG on the highway. These diesels are fairly clean, you do not see a lot black smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Up until 2009, VW TDIs seem to have been fine as far as exhaust emission tests. They easily pass. But, as California, continued to tighten the air pollution standards, which vary even within a single county, VW seems to have cheated on the nitric oxide emissions using software manipulation and mechanical configurations. They had hidden software in their diesel cars that allowed those cars to pass emissions tests in the laboratory while producing much higher levels of pollution when they drove outside the laboratory. For eight years VW misled Californians and regulators about the amount of pollution the company’s vehicles released into our air. That means VW profited by lying to California consumers who thought they were helping improve the environment by purchasing a vehicle which was marketed as “clean.”

Of course, the tightening of air standards now go beyond overkill. Most other states have far less concern about it. It is unclear if the earlier TDI models 2000-2008, were actually cleaner or was it that the emission standards were lower, but when the anomaly was discovered by California, more recent year models were impacted.

VW was not the only German car busted: Audi and Porsche were included:

  • Audi A3 (MY 2010 - 2013, 2015)
  • Audi A6 Quattro (MY 2014 - 2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattro (MY 2014 - 2016)
  • Audi A8 (MY 2014 - 2016)
  • Audi A8L (MY 2014 - 2016)
  • Audi Q5 (MY 2014 - 2016)
  • Audi Q7 (MY 2009 - 2015)
  • Porsche Cayenne (MY 2013 - 2016)
  • VW Beetle (MY 2013 - 2015)
  • VW Golf (MY 2010 - 2015)
  • VW Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015)
  • VW Jetta (MY 2009 - 2015)
  • VW Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009 - 2014)
  • VW Passat (MY 2012 - 2015)
  • VW Touareg (MY 2009 - 2016)

As of June, 2016, the “fix” is still not available. VW did submit their plan to California for approval, but it was rejected and VW was told to try again. California is still waiting. Consumers are still confused about what is going on.

VW dealers cannot sell any of the above models in California as new or certified used cars. Non-VW dealers may sell them. Dealers are left with the WTF situation to what they have in stock. However, the selling ban does not apply to private parties with the impacted models. They can sell. People wishing to buy a TDI at a low price may buy one from a private seller, non-VW dealer, OR may buy one from out of state (private or from dealer) and ship it to California. After the purchase, they still can register and smog the impacted models. If you buy a TDI and need to smog it, the smog will happen based upon the model year.

Until there is an official resolution, smog and registering the impacted cars will continue. Once there is a resolution, new owners will have to meet these new regulations before they smog\register the TDI. Once all details have been worked out between VW and regulators, owners will be notified by VW of whatever repair/buyback options are available for a specific vehicle. Those instructions should include where and when the vehicle can be repaired. Those notifications generally include a timeframe in which the repair must be completed. At the end of that period the repair will be a requirement of registration.

As a buyer, you will find the TDI prices lower than ever, but what exactly will happen once an agreement occurs is where you gamble. It might be just bring your car in for a free fix or something more significant. You might have to bear some costs (seems doubtful, though). Of course, there is the inconvenience of having your car fixed to meet the standards.

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