What the Volkswagen Emissions Violations Mean for Drivers 

 November 20, 2015

By  LMW Attorneys

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they were investigating Volkswagen for defrauding emissions tests by installing software in diesel vehicles that would change performance during the tests. The company has since admitted to cheating on emissions tests in the United States. Although the company says only Volkswagen vehicles with diesel engines were involved, the EPA says that they have found other irregularities in Audi and Porsche vehicles while there are some reports that gasoline-powered vehicles may also be involved. Many people are asking, however, what this discovery means for the owners of the cars involved.

Cars Affected

Currently, the violations have only officially been linked to cars with the EA189, 2.0 liter TDI engine found in the Golf, Beetle, Jetta and Passat, although other models may also be affected. According to the EPA, Volkswagen installed software known as “defeat devices” that could detect when the engine was being tested. The software changed the performance for the testing so that results were improved by placing the engine in “safety mode,” running below normal power. When the vehicles operated normally, outside of laboratory conditions where cars are often placed on a stationary test platform, the software switched off. After the software turned off, nitrogen oxide emissions from the vehicle rose to 40 times higher than permitted under United States regulations.

Consumer Impact

The vehicles are safe and legal to drive, but it is probable a recall will be issued. Most likely, the repairs will be minor software updates for newer models. However, older model cars may need additional components installed and this could delay recalls on those vehicles. Recently, Volkswagen announced a “Customer Goodwill Package” to owners of 2.0-liter diesel cars, which are the models Volkswagen admits included the software. Owners will receive a $500 prepaid Visa, $500 in dealership credit and three additional years of roadside assistance. However, the plan is not being offered to owners of 3.0 liter Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen models, despite the EPA report that they also cheated emissions tests.

Obtaining Goodwill Package

Owners of the 2.0-liter vehicles will not find the goodwill package arriving in their mailbox, however. Instead, owners must submit information online, wait four weeks and then visit a dealership to present photo identification, vehicle registration and a title or lease agreement. The package must be claimed by April 20, 2016 and the Visa card as well as the dealer credit expires within one year. Volkswagen is also offering loyalty rebates for repeat customers along with very aggressive financing in an effort to improve sales in the wake of the scandal. Many consumer advocates say that the company should compensate owners as the emissions issue could devalue the car in the future and may cause a reduction in fuel economy.

Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins for Product Liability Attorneys

If you or a loved one has purchased a Volkswagen that may be part of the emissions scandal,  contact our office today to see what rights you may have. Like many consumers, you purchased a vehicle that was supposed to help improve the environment, only to learn that it may be causing more harm than other vehicles that did not make such promises. We can provide you with information on where to turn to get satisfaction.