By on September 18, 2015

news-2016-audi-a3-sportback-tdi-exterior-02

The Environmental Protection Agency took the rare step of recalling more than 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi cars for using a “defeat device” to force the cars to comply with emissions standards, the New York Times reported.

The California Air Resources Board and EPA slammed the automaker for using the device that can detect when the car is being tested for emissions and implement full pollutant controls to curb nitrogen oxide emissions.

“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said in a statement. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, E.P.A. is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. E.P.A. will continue to investigate these very serious violations.”

Last month, TTAC reader Stephen reported that his newly ordered 2016 Audi A3 TDI was being held at port for months for months for an EPA hold. We reached out to Audi, and they reported the same, directing us to the EPA who reported that the cars had not yet received a Certificate of Compliance.

According to the EPA, researches at West Virginia University, working with the International Council on Clean Transportation, uncovered the devices.

When pressed by the government agency, Volkswagen admitted in September that the cars used the illegal device to pass emissions.

The recall signals the changing relationship between government and automakers, who’ve in the past had a fairly cozy relationship. This month, safety regulators issued recalls for more than 1.7 million Fiat Chrysler Automobile models and penalized General Motors $900 million.

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191 Comments on “EPA Recalling Volkswagens, Audis for Bogus Emissions Tests...”


  • avatar
    riviera67

    My question is, if the cars are capable of meeting the emissions standards, why have the defeat device in the first place?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The defeat devices are to improve emissions control durability, performance and fuel economy.

      I wonder if Obama’s friends in organized crime will get control over VW’s US workforce as part of the fallout from this.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      The emissions systems on the diesels are very complex by comparison to a gasoline engine. The parts involved go wel beyond a couple of oxygen sensors and a catalyst. For starters you gain a urea tank, pump, injector. There is a motor controlled flap in the exhaust. But wait there is more fun in the form of a diesel particulate filter which is like another catalyst that requires periodic burning off a process handled by the ECM during vehicle operation. Then you have some additional sensors to give the ECM the ability to monitor the emissions control system a bit better and that includes a differential pressure sensor and some exhaust gas temperature probes.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Nothing will become of this.

      We’re in an era of Big Corporate Immunity, whether Wall Street/Banks, Mortgage Bundlers & Processors (Linda Green, Angelo Mozilo) Automakers that kill with reckless & nearly willful abandonment (General Motors), Big Pharma, etc.

      Eric PlaceHolder will be the US Attorney General that ushered in the permanent era of Too Big To Fail, Prosecute or Jail; Slap a symbolic fine on them if they are a big donor to politicians, especially if taxpayers prop them up, and hurry the whole thing under the rug.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “I wonder if Obama’s friends in organized crime will get control over VW’s US workforce as part of the fallout from this.”

        “Nothing will become of this. We’re in an era of Big Corporate Immunity”

        Ladies and gentlemen, politics in the United States!

        I’ll be off shooting myself in the head if anyone needs me.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        This.

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        We can’t all pull down the same coin that DW does, but $900 million is no symbolic fine.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          900 million is a literaql slap on the wrist, and to add insult to injury, its the byproduct of sums received by GM from US taxpayers via an involuntary looting of US taxpayers by the US Treasury Department under both the Bush II and Obama Administrations.

          GM shouldn’t exist today, period.

          People at GM and Delphi, as in individuals, including a possible current CEO of GM, need to be criminally prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated.

          You know nothing about the rule of law if you disagree with this, given the evidence, facts and ADMISSIONS made in the ignition switch case thus far.

          In addition to criminal prosecutions of GM employees, the GM bankruptcy was a fraud on the court, as the ignition switch liability was known at the time of the filing of the BK Petition yet not disclosed in any manner, and GM’s bankruptcy should be reversed now.

          Also, GM should be forced to litigate each and every injury and death case resulting from the ignition switch defect, on a case by case basis, with full punitive damages per victim allowed.

          The institution of justice and rule of law has taken a massive, and maybe irreversible hit, beginning with Eric PlaceHolder’s Department of Justice, continuing now under Loretta Lynch, with ZERO persons from Wall Street, Mortgage Companies, Banks, Automakers, Pharmaceutical Companies, etc., jailed (not one single person) for blatant violations of clear-cut law.

          http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/10/loretta-lynch-fumbled-hsbc-jail-attorney-general

          —-

          http://www.democracynow.org/2015/9/18/gm_did_the_crime_drivers_do

          GM Did the Crime, Drivers Do the Time: The Failure of U.S. to Prosecute Car Executives

          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/business/a-fatally-flawed-switch-and-a-burdened-engineer.html?_r=0

          Documents show that Mr. DeGiorgio was in close contact with a number of other G.M. workers and officials at Delphi, the switch’s supplier, in his attempts to fix the faulty part. And while he had considerable authority, he operated without significant supervision or oversight.

          When the switch began failing because the ignition key could be inadvertently bumped, shutting off the engine and disabling airbags, Mr. DeGiorgio tried to have it replaced with a newer part. But his request was rejected by a high-level G.M. product committee, documents show.

          He then violated company policy by ordering a modified switch from Delphi without a new part number, according to G.M. While that fixed the problem for future vehicles, it left countless people at risk of driving cars equipped with the original part.

          To hear Mr. DeGiorgio tell it, he was nothing more than a loyal worker whose best efforts got him fired and made him a target of possible criminal charges. “I did what I was supposed to do,” he said.

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          His response is revealing for what current and former employees say is the culture inside G.M.’s sprawling technical center in Warren, Mich., where thousands of engineers and designers work in a vast matrix of offices that one former executive nicknamed “cube city.”

          “DeGiorgio was part of what we called the ‘frozen middle’ at G.M., just another tiny cog in a massive machine,” said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he now works for a major G.M. supplier. “You stay in your box and you do your job. And you don’t let anyone else into your box.”

          Mr. DeGiorgio’s job in the spring of 2001 was to choose a switch that would improve the bargain-basement image of G.M.’s small cars.

          Senior management dictated that new models like the Cobalt have higher-class, European-style components, interviews reveal. The message was driven home to engineers by a supervisory panel called TALC — the “touch, aroma and look” committee.

          Presented with two design options for a Cobalt switch, Mr. DeGiorgio picked the one that required less force to turn the key. But it fared poorly in testing. “Failure is significant,” Mr. DeGiorgio wrote to G.M. co-workers in a previously unreported email. “I just returned from Delphi. They promised modified switches.”

          Over the next several months, he expressed his frustration with the weak switch in several emails to G.M. colleagues and Delphi engineers, even calling it the “switch from hell.”

          Documents show that Mr. DeGiorgio interacted with a wide range of G.M. departments about the problem, including warranty claim managers, supply chain officials, electrical engineers and test-track drivers.

          By mid-2005, internal emails show that Mr. DeGiorgio was being pressed by two product committees to change the switch, and was meeting frequently with Delphi engineers for a solution.

          “Cobalt is blowing up in their face,” one Delphi official wrote to a co-worker in June 2005.

          In September 2005, Mr. DeGiorgio asked a high-level engineering committee to replace the switch with a new, stronger part designed for a future G.M. model. The request was rejected, documents show.

          Reports of ignition failures continued to pour into G.M., including news media accounts of Cobalts stalling during test drives. In May 2006, Mr. DeGiorgio made a decision. He instructed Delphi, in writing, to replace the switch with a stronger version that he had initially bypassed five years earlier.

          But his failure to issue a new part number would torpedo G.M.’s efforts to understand why older Cobalts had much higher failure rates than cars built after 2006.

          Mr. DeGiorgio compounded his mistake when he told G.M. product investigators in 2009, and again in 2012, that he had never changed the Cobalt ignition, according to documents.

          But a reckoning was coming. Lawyers representing the family of Brooke Melton, a Georgia woman killed in a Cobalt crash, sued G.M. and discovered during independent testing that older Cobalts had different ignition switches than newer ones did.

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          In his deposition in April 2013, Mr. DeGiorgio denied replacing the faulty switch in 2006. “I don’t recall ever authorizing a change,” he said. But he could not deny the physical evidence presented by the family’s lawyer, Lance Cooper, showing that newer Cobalts were equipped with a stronger switch.

          “Do you see the difference?” Mr. Cooper asked.

          “Yes,” Mr. DeGiorgio said.

          Soon after the deposition, G.M. lawyers quickly sought a confidential settlement in the case. More important, Mr. DeGiorgio’s testimony revived an internal inquiry of the ignition switch that led to the recalls of 2.6 million small cars starting in February, and plunged G.M. into a safety crisis that has cost billions of dollars and smeared its reputation.

          Now Mr. DeGiorgio is facing multiple legal threats. He could be criminally prosecuted for withholding safety information from federal regulators and possibly charged with perjury for his deposition.

          Lawyers pursuing wrongful-death cases against G.M. are also focusing intently on Mr. DeGiorgio, as well as other company officials who worked with him.

          “DeGiorgio was able to both successfully thrive and hide in the weeds of G.M.’s corporate carelessness,” said Robert Hilliard, who represents hundreds of accident victims and their families.

          Until now, Mr. DeGiorgio, who worked for G.M. for 23 years, had not spoken publicly about his actions. But on a recent weekday morning, he opened up in a brief conversation.

          A short, slightly built man with curly hair and a white mustache, he bristled at accusations he was incompetent and negligent. “My name has been trashed,” he said. “I’ve been crucified in public. What else is left other than jail time? What else?”

          He lashed out at news accounts of his career at G.M. “There’s been so much written about me,” he said. “Some of it is just fiction.”

          When pressed to explain, Mr. DeGiorgio abruptly cut off the discussion. “I could write a book just about the switch,” he said. “Maybe someday I will.”

          But his protests hardly absolve him in the eyes of Laura Christian, the birth mother of Amber Marie Rose, a Maryland teenager who was killed in 2005 behind the wheel of a defective Chevrolet Cobalt.

          “He had many opportunities to correct his mistakes or speak out about the defective switches,” Ms. Christian said. “The pain he may be feeling is nothing compared to the pain of losing a child.”

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Critics Rip GM Deferred Prosecution Agreement in Engine Switch Case

            CAS Statement on GM Criminal Settlement with Justice Department

            September 17, 2015

            “GM killed over a 100 people by knowingly putting a defective ignition switch into over 1 million vehicles. Yet no one from GM went to jail or was even charged with criminal homicide. This shows a weakness in the law not a weakness in the facts. GM killed innocent consumers. GM has paid millions of dollars to its lobbyists to keep criminal penalties out of the Vehicle Safety Act since 1966. Today thanks to its lobbyists, GM officials walk free while its customers are six feet under.”

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        Deadweight is entirely correct.

        It’s a thoroughly damning indictment when you’re able to say that the Bush II regime did better, notably with Enron.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Ummm, the auto bailout was done by Bush (43). The record is crystal clear on this.

          The Obama Administration in March of 2009 simply continued the Bush plan started in December of 2008. Bush is on the record, multiple times, publicly, post-Presidency, taking credit for the auto bailout and saying he would do it again.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Just like with the Iraq War, Shrub was given some bad information at the end of 2008.

            I like to look at the whole bailout thing in the larger context: The UAW was bailed out and kept working for two dead automakers, while 25-million other workers in America lost their jobs, lost their homes, or lost everything.

            It would have been better had O’b*m* bailed out the other 25-million Americans who went bust.

            If people buy a GM product, they deserve everything they get, even if it kills them.

      • 0 avatar
        natrat

        just the beginning, when TPP kicks in it really will be a new world order like pappy bush envisioned

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      Let me guess, a big gazillion dollar fine and no one goes to prison UNLESS VW of America failed to innoculate the right blend of Ds & Rs with campaign cash.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    What are they calling a “defeat device”?

    Perhaps a small box to manipulate sensor readings to the ECM?

    I’m also curious what the test protocol is and how it is performed in terms of what is measured and if it is measured by using actual sensors or if it is measured by reading via the OBD port.

    • 0 avatar
      Frankie the Hollywood Scum

      This will be expensive for VW. There will be a fine + the cost of the recall but the class action suit of people with cars that are about to have a decrease capability.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        The fine may be heavy but the recall cost will be negligible. No actual parts installed, no wrenches turned, just a software reflash. And only .0001% of owners in OBD-only inspection states will actually show up.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Don’t forget though that the software is programmed this way for a reason.
          What will be the consequences of correcting this, DPF usage increase 400%? Engine coking up? Parts needing to be replaced quicker? Fuel economy dropping x%?

          It’s not like it’s programmed that way to tell the EPA to go F themselves, it is engineered to work “correctly”, and then work correctly.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Chances are if VW had been compliant during all operating cycles, they probably knew they would have aftertreatment system problems or overall performance problems, hence the “defeat” unless being tested.

            With compliant software, owners can probably look forward to poor fuel economy, poor performance and lots of emissions system component failures.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I think it is a non-issue because we’ll find out that every other diesel engine in America is spewing out far greater pollution that advertised.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    “According to the EPA, researches at West Virginia University, working with the International Council on Clean Transportation, uncovered the devices.”

    Not quite. EPA said that the researchers discovered the large discrepancy between real-world and lab emissions and notified them. EPA asked VW why this was happening and VW fed them a string of (apparently unbelievable) lies until CARB and EPA said no 2016 diesel sales until you give us an explanation.

    That’s when VW fessed up. Nobody “uncovered” the devices. Devices being an alternate set of software routines stored on a control module somewhere in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I imagine the car can use wheel speed sensors and an accelerometer to determine when it is on a dyno, at which point it starts pumping urea like there’s no tomorrow.

      • 0 avatar
        DaveNH

        “pumping urea”

        That doesn’t sound like something I want to be involved with…

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        Dyno? What is this, 1995? Where I live an emission test just involves an OBDII hookup (pre-’96 cars are exempt from emissions testing) and the scanner will get the emission readings off the port. I wonder what sorcery was involved to make sure the scanner gets bogus readings

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          http://smogcheck.ca.gov/pdf/Smog_Check_Manual_ENG_2013.pdf

          This is the CARB smog check procedure manual from 2013. In it you can read about how California emissions testing requires dynamometer use with a few exceptions. The news stories about this make multiple references to CARB, which means California emissions testing procedures are relevant.

          http://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Smog_Check_Reference_Guide.pdf

          This guide says that diesels sold after 1997 with GVWRs under 14,001 lbs are subject to SCM Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) Emission Inspection, which means tailpipe emissions are tested while the vehicle runs on a dyno. Good for you that you don’t register your cars in California.

          • 0 avatar
            TOTitan

            CJ you are wrong on two accounts today. 1. Saying that Obama has friends in the mafia is just dumb. 2. As the owner of a BMW 335d and a VW tdi who lives in CA Im here to tell you that diesel vehicles do not get put on a dyno for their smog test. They check for OBD codes, look for mods, and look for smoke from the tailpipe. Thats it…takes ten minutes or less.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Speaking of dumb, organized crime isn’t limited to the mafia. OTOH, the mafia does have strong ties to labor unions, which means it applies in this case. Perhaps your SMOG station doesn’t follow the book, but the guides distributed to SMOG stations specify that diesels made after 1997 that weigh less than 14,001 lbs when fully loaded, which would include your cars, must be tested on a dyno. Do you know how links work? My ex-gf used to get her car smogged with a bad exhaust manifold catalyst and a lit CEL. It doesn’t have anything to do with the letter of the law.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        I was trying to figure a way that the car could sense when it was being tested. Your idea is brilliant! Put that ABS system to work.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        “pumping urea like there’s no tomorrow.”

        Uh no. That would really screw things up. Pumping the correct amount instead of almost none is more like it.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I would bet money on speed sensors for the rear wheels that inform the ECM the rear wheels are not spinning and the front ones are turning 50mph. Probably a simple ‘if then’ coding to switch to the EPA tune to dramatically lower emissions.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    VW is not alone in the deceit. Honda got busted in the late 90s when they had trouble getting the Accord to reliably respond to misfire detection as required by OBDII. Seems they felt that the light coming on was concern for their reliability reputation. So they programmed the car to ignore all but the most egregious cases of misfire. Part of that settlement was a greatly extended warranty – something my brother got to take advantage of. Great car, by the way. The last of the trim Accords.

    Solution to such sleight of hand is simple…crippling levels of penalties so that such behavior is discouraged…like the Ford case of Pinto fires.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      So you’re saying that a high threshold for throwing a code is the same thing as programming cars to pollute whenever they aren’t being tested under a specific protocol? SMH

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I read this elsewhere:

    “The EPA said VW faces fines of up to $37,500 per vehicle for the violations – a total of more than $18 billion. No final total was announced. California issued a separate compliance order to VW, and officials announced an investigation by the California Air Resources Board.”

    Potentially $18 billion… VW will be glad it didn’t achieve its US sales targets. Not only the Feds, but CARB will come after them with both barrels. This seems much more egregious than gaming an EPA drive cycle.

    Long term, I wonder if this scandal will doom VW in the US, not to mention diesels (again). In the 70s, MB and VW gave us weak diesels, in the 80s GM gave us the 350 diesel, then we got the carbon-clogged intakes of the 00’s VW diesels, now this.

    Mazda can’t seem to get their diesel right with oil issues and certification problems for the US market, and even France has repented of diesel religion and is touting EVs.

    VW was the last best hope for diesels in the US, in spite of VW’s poor reputation for quality. Now what will they do?

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      I also have a feeling EPA fines will be the tip of the iceberg (and probably nowhere near $18B). Think of all the civil suits if/when the fix reduces fuel economy, durability, etc. Then there will be future lost sales due to mpg adjustments and, to a smaller extent, ill will. Ouch.

      If this damages the TDI brand, that’s a pretty huge nail in VWoA’s coffin.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Nah.

        Big fines – yes – and big will be an understatement. Huge, historic is more likely.

        Congress wanting to know WTF – maybe.

        Lawsuits – lawyers likely already sharpening their knives.

        Diminished resale value – definitely.

        Possible stop sale for impacted vehicles – could happen.

        Hurt future sales – nope – not a chance

        We’ve seen this over and over and over again.

        The Toyota debacle didn’t hurt sales. Consumer sentiment moving away from sedans and cheap gas is what has stalled out Camry, Corolla and Prius growth.

        The GM ignition switch didn’t hurt a thing in the growth and sales department.

        VW and Audi customers are loyal and VW customers are VERY passionate. They’ll tell you burning a quart of oil every 1K miles is normal, replacing ignition coils every 30K miles is regular maintenance and you don’t need to check the fluid or level in your automatic transmission – EVER – that’s the dealer’s job. They’ll add to that list the genius of “dual model emission compliance,” a VW exclusive feature.

        If this story gets legs in the press, the happiest person is Mary Barra, just as I’m sure Akido was quite pleased when the GM ignition switches story broke.

        People have very short memories.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @APaGttH:

          VW is already facing challenges with future sales, but I do think there will be a ‘diesel effect’ as well.

          Toyota and GM didn’t lose sales because consumers somehow believed the issue wouldn’t happen to them, or that they could prevent the problem (“just stand on the brakes”).

          As you say, the VW/Audi fan club is pretty rabid – and the TDI club even more so – but the media play of this story will paint VW as a conniving devil. With Toyota and GM, it’s plausible their problems were caused by that a mixture of incompetence, poor communication, and bad luck. In VW’s case, though, it looks like a corporate conspiracy to trick unsuspecting US regulators and the ‘breathing public’.

          Think Erin Brockovich.

          • 0 avatar
            mazdaman007

            This.

            A deliberate corporate decision at a very high level to break the law and screw their own paying customers. There should be massive fines and jail time (ha ha, as if).

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I don’t like VW. Still, they didn’t do this to screw their customers. They did this so they could sell the diesels people want at a reasonable price with some probability of economical and reliable operation. Practically every diesel car vendor in Europe has been caught doing the same thing.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ” They did this so they could sell the diesels people want at a reasonable price with some probability of economical and reliable operation.”

            Yep, this. VW was building cars specifically to satisfy their customers rather than to the EPA, who doesn’t pay their bills.

            You want affordable diesels on this continent? Tell the EPA.

          • 0 avatar
            mazdaman007

            You’re telling me the owners of the affected cars are not feeling screwed right now ? Resale values ? Potential future mechanical repercussions caused by this ?

            Even if this had all gone undetected they’re running around spewing 40x the allowable limit of NOx meanwhile thinking how environmentally responsible they are in their ‘clean’ diesel. That’s screwing your customer.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Someone already screwed them before VW could if they thought there is such a thing as a clean diesel.

            >In the early 2000s the Blair government threw its weight behind the sector by changing ‘road tax’ (vehicle excise duty) to a CO2-based system, which favoured diesel cars as they generally had lower CO2 emissions than petrol versions.

            It inspired British car makers to invest heavily in a manufacturing process that most countries outside Europe have ignored. In 1994 the UK car fleet was only 7.4% diesel. By 2013 there were 10.1m diesel cars in the UK, 34.5% of the total.

            But studies have since shown that diesel cars’ emissions of other pollutants can have serious impacts on the health of people exposed to them.

            Now the European Union is scrambling to reduce the impact of its massive diesel industry on the health of its citizens.< http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/11/have-diesel-cars-been-unfairly-demonised-for-air-pollution

            Basically, these people are paying the price for believing in the carbon scam. They gave up superior, cleaner cars for diesels in the name of a government initiative to reduce CO2 output. They traded their real health for the belief that politicians know better than markets. Half a million such dupes don't make a lick of difference in a country the size of the US, but reality is slapping Europeans silly these days.

          • 0 avatar
            mazdaman007

            So are you saying every manufacturer over in Europe is pulling the same sleight-of-hand diesel game as VAG, and that this is one of the reasons that has lead to the health issues ?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I agree with CJ here, both on his assessment of the reasons VW pulled this stunt and on the foolishness of creating public policy that chases the in vogue environmental/health problem of CO2-driven climate change without understanding that such a policy would create more local acute environmental/health problems from NOx emissions.

            The true emissions from diesels were not sufficiently investigated if real-world tests have NOx emissions at 7x the standard lab tests used to direct government policy.

          • 0 avatar
            mazdaman007

            So VAG basically is saying let’s just break the law because we think it’s a dumb law and it would cost us too much to comply with legally.

        • 0 avatar
          hf_auto

          @APaGttH:
          I’m mostly thinking lost sales if the new version of software suddenly lops 10mpg of their rating, the main reason many people bought TDIs. That may be a bit high, but more EGR == worse fuel economy and worse reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        My brother’s 2014 Sportwagen TDI blew its turbo at 8000k.

        Now he tells me it’s out of warranty. Good luck w/ that.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        If the feds are really serious about $18 billion in fines would it be a better business move to pull out of the US? We’re just not that big a deal in VW’s earnings.

        Just the threat alone would get phones ringing in Congress with dealers trying to protect their franchises. Then Tennessee would panic at the prospect of VW closing the plant.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’d be curious to know if the Cruze diesel really reaches these ridiculous standards. I suspect that the EPA and CARB’s suspicions were really raised by VW meeting standards that weren’t meant to be met.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Interesting theory. Sort of like the kid who aces the mid-term exam when everybody else scores a 72%.

        In any case, this will really fry VW’s diesel competitors who are trying to a) meet difficult standards, and b) break into a US market that is traditionally hostile to diesels.

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        While the regulations have no doubt been challenging for engine manufacturers, they’re not unattainable.

        Navistar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navistar_International#Failed_Engine_Strategy) is a good, recent example of an OEM trying to get clever with NOX as a way to get ahead of the competition. To Navistar’s credit, they were at least transparent about things, telling everyone what they were doing, s&*t-talking the competition, and suing the EPA. It nearly wiped out the company, flushed most of the C-suite, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          A few years ago, Honda announced they were expanding a factory in the US to build clean diesel engines. As I recall, they spent $200M on R&D and tooling.

          But they just couldn’t get the engines clean enough to offer at a reasonable price. And in the end, Honda wrote off the investment. At the time, I wondered how VW could do it, but Honda- who understands internal combustion as well as anyone – could not.

          Now we know why.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Potentially $18 billion… VW will be glad it didn’t achieve its US sales targets.”

      L.O.L.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “VW was the last best hope for diesels in the US, in spite of VW’s poor reputation for quality. Now what will they do?”

      Pay an enormous fine, do some hasty engineering and continue to target levels of US market share that it never had a chance to get.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The NYT article quoted here seems tame on VW compared to Reuters and others. The recall is for 480,000 2009 to 2015 VW and Audi TDI four cylinder cars sold in the US.

    The cheat is a software routine. Runs one schedule on emission testing, and another the rest of the time, putting out 40 times the NOX. The potential fine up to $38 grand a car. No wonder Piech left early, that’s a bit more than Suzuki paid to regain its independence.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    My guess is that VW realized early-on that the amount of EGR they’d need & the conditions they’d need to run it under to get their NOx levels down to US standards would very quickly foul the EGR cooler. This is a problem all diesels run into when meeting current & future NOx standards in the US & EU since there are only a few ways to get rid of NOx at the tailpipe without taking too much of a power/efficiency/cost hit.

    Since this is an emissions control device, it is required to last 100k miles with only minimal degradation in performance, which isn’t going to happen if its plugged up. Therefore, they only activate it when on the test and under a limited set of circumstances to avoid fouling it quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You cannot run a diesel “lean” for any length of time. You’ll end up burning a hole in the top of the pistons if you do. So my guess would be VW runs the diesel lean for testing, and rich for all other times.

      Even the cleanest diesel will belch out black smoke under load because the DEF cannot neutralize it all. Most drivers have a lead foot and like to tromp on the go-pedal instead of gingerly pushing it as if it had an egg under the pedal.

      I think it is a non-story. Anyone who had has any exposure to diesels should already know all this. My M-B 220D (Euro) had to run rich all of the time and that was before EGR became mandated by the EPA.

      Sounds like another EPA overreach. If the EPA really wants to crack down, they should turn their attention to Big Rig trucks and Commercial diesels. That’s where all the pollution is.

      • 0 avatar
        BigOldChryslers

        Diesels normally run lean, which is part of the reason they get good fuel economy. Gasoline engines can’t run lean under load, at least they couldn’t until the advent of direct fuel injection.

        The only time a (properly operating) diesel runs rich enough to “belch out black smoke” is under sudden increase in load and the turbo hasn’t spooled-up yet to provide extra oxygen for the extra fuel.

        You burn a hole through the piston when the injector is failing and injects fuel when it’s not supposed to and/or doesn’t atomize the fuel properly and instead squirts a stream of fuel into the combustion chamber.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        “Sounds like another EPA overreach.”

        Dunno, NOx contributes to ground-level ozone, which is rather poisonous.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The numbers of them in this country are so low that I’d wager it doesn’t matter to ground level ozone layers

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            There really aren’t enough diesel-powered CARS in America to have any impact on anything.

            The summer of 2014 I helped my son transport some cattle by driving one of the rented rigs for him and his business partner.

            The American Tractors we rented were running clean, but the two Mexican drivers who brought their own Tractors were bellowing black smoke under load all the way from Dalhart to KC to Hastings and back South from Denver.

            Now THAT was air pollution! Along with the stench of the cattle.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “You cannot run a diesel “lean” for any length of time. You’ll end up burning a hole in the top of the pistons if you do. So my guess would be VW runs the diesel lean for testing, and rich for all other times.”

        False. Rich is mean in a diesel, not lean.

        Diesels run “lean” mixtures most of the time, part of why it’s hard to get heat out of them in winter at low engine speeds.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          danio, I disagree. But my extensive reply to your post has disappeared into the great ttac WordPress Void.

          However, I will agree that today’s modern diesels run leaner than those using the mechanical Bosch diesel fuel-injection system.

          Still, with the air intake on all diesels always being wide open (no throttle plate), idle and acceleration is controlled by injecting fuel.

          I will not try to convince anyone otherwise.

          I have completely rebuilt a Wacker G70 Diesel and a Kubota 3-cyl Diesel and it has been my experience that at speed diesels run rich.

          Without traps, exhaust filters, or a DEF catalytic converter, you can see the particulates escape into the air.

          • 0 avatar
            toplessFC3Sman

            Diesel engines run globally (meaning overall fuel/overall air ratio) lean at least 95% of the time, and when they get anywhere close to stoichiometric, you can tell by the clouds of black smoke. If you think yours are running rich, then they are either not running correctly or you’re mistaking the particulates & smoke from normal lean operation for them being rich. Basically, they control load with the amount of fuel injected & don’t worry about throttling the intake (which really hurts efficency since the engine needs to suck in air at low pressure, but push it out at atmospheric pressure), which allows them to be more efficient.

            Diesel engines can do this while gasoline cannot because diesels inject a very easily auto-ignitable fuel into the cylinder after compression, and it burns as it’s being injected. Since diesel fuel is pretty viscous & thick, it doesn’t mix with the air too well, and you end up with these jets of fuel spewing out of the injector that burn as soon as they encounter enough oxygen to get the chemical process started. Some of the fuel that’s injected early makes it far enough into the combustion chamber before autoigniting that it is surrounded by air and is locally burning lean, but all the fuel injected later is getting sprayed into this burning or already burned mixture where it has a hard time mixing & finding enough air to combust until much later in the cycle. Therefore, even though a diesel engine is globally lean, a lot of the combustion happens locally rich as the fuel searches for air.

            Now, NOx is created by dissociation of O2 & N2 in really hot temperatures. Since the combustion chamber is globally lean, there is plenty of excess O2, whereas if it were stoichiometric, most of the O2 would be consumed by combustion before dissociating. It’s also very hot due to combustion, which creates a perfect environment to make lots of NOx. Following that, the higher the engine load, the more NOx is created due to the hotter temperatures.

            There are ways to reduce the NOx production, but they all have their own downsides, so all manufacturers tend to use a combination of all of them. You can:
            – Retard combustion timing until later in the cycle by injecting the fuel later. However, this gives up the ability to expand the burning gas and get work out, making the engine much less efficient.
            – Increase in-cylinder motion via swirl or tumble. This will help the fuel and air mix better, avoiding some of the extremes and reducing NOx a little, but primarily reducing soot. However, this also increases heat losses and creating the swirl hurts the port’s flow, which means you won’t be as efficient and can’t make as much power
            – Add EGR back in to the intake, displacing some of the excess air. If you don’t need all the excess O2, why have it there to create NOx? Displacing it with some EGR can help, and it also slows combustion, giving the fuel more time to thoroughly mix and combust evenly. This has very little impact on efficiency or performance in diesel engines, since you can control when you put it in and when you don’t. Thus, this is the biggest, most effective knob to reduce NOx in a diesel. Efficiency & NOx reduction can be improved further if you cool the EGR, so that everything in-cylinder stays cooler.

            Its much cheaper to reduce NOx in-cylinder than to clean it up afterwards in a diesel since you don’t have anywhere near the CO & hydrocarbons necessary for a three-way catalyst (like stoichiometric gasoline engines can use). Still, to clean up the NOx that’s left to get below the limit, you can either:
            – Store it temporarily (Lean NOx Trap, or LNT), then run rich for a few seconds and send the NOx and rich combustion products through a modified three-way catalyst to clean everything up. This strategy relies on not producing very much NOx and relying on EGR & in-cylinder strategies very much. Otherwise, you’d fill up the LNT so quickly and have to spend so much time running rich to clean everything up that you’d no longer have any of the diesel efficiency benefits.
            – The other common way is via selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which relies on urea injection in the exhaust. The urea breaks up into ammonia in the exhaust, which then reacts with the NOx as it passes over a special catalyst. This method doesn’t hurt engine efficiency, but requires you to carry around the urea injection system & actively inject it to deal with the NOx that’s created. With this type of system, if you didn’t use any of the above methods you’d be draining the urea tank so quickly you’d need to fill up every tank or 2 of gas.

            So – there’s the basis of how diesel engines work, create NOx, and how the NOx can be taken care of. So, where’s VW’s problem? Well, they chose to use an LNT system on the affected 4-cyl cars, so they are storage-limited for the NOx and need to run rich to clean it out when the trap is full. The most likely problem causing this would be EGR cooler fouling. If you use EGR coolers under the wrong conditions, they can very easily clog or foul, getting a layer of deposits that prevents heat transfer and prevents the cooler from cooling. When this happens, you can’t get enough EGR or don’t have good control over the quantity or temperature, meaning that your primary knob for NOx reduction doesn’t work. When this happens, there is no way that the LNT can keep up, and you destroy all efficiency benefits, making those TDI owners complain about 30 mpg, not 40-50. Not to mention, running rich that often will cause other problems like clogging the diesel particulate filter (DPF) & making the car smell more.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “danio, I disagree. But my extensive reply to your post has disappeared into the great ttac WordPress Void.”

            That doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change reality.

            I don’t really miss much around here. The same people posting the same things about stuff they don’t really know.

            Good on FC3Sman for having the patience.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Diesel Exhaust Fluid (or DEF) is not intended to neutralize black smoke. DEF is used to convert NOx into carbon dioxide and water.

        The black smoke (or soot) is captured in the diesel particulate filter (or DPF) and stored until the backpressure reaches a certain level, triggering a regeneration to burn the soot into ash. Ash remains in the DPF permanently (assuming a sealed housing in a typical consumer application) until eventually the DPF needs to be replaced from excessive ash accumulation, as well as the precious metal washcoat on the substrate becoming inert over time.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Accurate!

          But where there is black smoke under acceleration there will be unconverted NOx.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            What happens under hard acceleration or pulling a heavy load is one thing, but what’s important is a clean idle. Old, pre emissions diesels would make your eyes feel like they were on fire with a pungent, distinctive diesel smell.

            California attempted to have all pre 2010 diesel commercial trucks banned from use in California, but of course that was a ridiculous bill. My 2006 was scheduled to be off_the_road in January, 2015. My A$$! All pre 2010 diesels were set to be off road’d by 2025. Ha!

            It was a hoax, I saw right through it. What kind of gave it away was all the ’87 diesel school buses still driving around in CA. They’ve got the ‘rainbow’ licence plates of ’87.

            CA/CARB can kiss my soot! Mine has a somewhat simple soot-trap/cat and EGR/EGR cooler. It’s clean enough for me. No fumes/smell at idle, no burning eyes.

            But I do need to stomp on it hard occasionally, to blow out or clean out the cat and EGR. The best time to do so is driving at night when stuck in front of some D-bag with his HID “blue light special” and fog lights.

            Although this thing with VW is mind blowing.. Their biggest payout will be keeping it off the news.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            DenverMike, that’s exactly it! The passenger car diesel engines are, like their gas counterparts tested at idle after they are thoroughly warmed up.

            At idle I presume they do run lean.

            But those tiny diesels are not tested under load or at 2000rpm or cruising down the highway, and there, I suspect, is where they spew a ton of NOx and whatever.

            BTW, I double checked my assertion of lean vs rich, and that was what it said in the handouts I received when attending Trucking School in Phx to get my CDL, in 1985.

            Granted, that was a long time ago, long before computer management of fuel injection was even dreamt of. Things probably have changed these days to where the fuel and air mixture has been leaned out to reduce emmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            CA was not trying to eliminate diesel vehicles that were older than 2010 it was to eliminate diesel engines that don’t meet 2010 standards so it is possible to retrofit or re-power the vehicle and it be compliant. Not cost effective in many cases but it could be in certain instances.

            As far as the school buses go there are lots of 60’s era school buses running around CA. However it is easy for the gov’t to issue an exemption to another state agency. Additionally there were big federal grants to retrofit emissions control devices and/or re-power school buses specifically. So the school bus angle doesn’t fly.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @HDC Idle is not where controlling NOx is an issue. It is at speed when it is under load that it is a problem. They do test them under load, idle is just a small portion of the test. VW did program the vehicles to run a full emission control strategy when it detects that the vehicle is being run on a dyno in accordance with the test procedures, but only as long as the length of the test.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            CA fully expected the aftermarket to jump in and offer a cost effective “retrofit” for pre 2010 emissions, commercial trucks (14K lbs and up) but the aftermarket never really stepped in.

            Replacing the older, pre 2010 trucks with newer was the only cost effective way. The handful of “grants” went fast for the million+ trucks needing replaced before the deadline.

            I saw companies scramble at the last minute, replacing their fleets and nearly go bankrupt. Yes it was a hoax. Ridiculous to even think. Owners put their hard earned capital into pre emissions trucks, in good faith.

            But at speed and under a load, dirty emissions dissipates and mix with the air around, compared to breathing in stagnant, and concentrated particulates and fumes of idling trucks. Or rolled with soot/coal, behind an old diesel truck leaving from a dead stop.

            Old diesel buses ahead of you in traffic are the absolute worst. The exhaust exits their tail and in your face, repeatedly until you can get the fukk around/past them. At speed it’s not as much of an issue.

            Chicks driving old rear-engine school buses and public transit are the by far the worst. WOT or nothing, from every stop.

            .

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Boy, I’m so glad that the The-Law-Is-The-Law watermelons at the People’s Revolutionary Commissariat for the Environment are protecting me and all the other nobodies out here in flyover country from these horrible, smoke-belching death machines.

    This is all so very ridiculous. Anyone else notice the copious amounts of Gasp-And-Swoon-Well-I-Never! sanctimony in the press release?

    “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said in a statement.

    “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, E.P.A. is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. E.P.A. will continue to investigate these very serious violations.”

    Yes, Cynthia. Very Serious Violations. Because they’re ALWAYS Very Serious Violations, aren’t they?

    Let’s be realistic, here. Cars are so clean these days, you could lock yourself in the garage and run the engine until the sun explodes and you wouldn’t die from anything but boredom.

    We’ve cut automotive emissions by 99-and-some-change % in the last 40 years. Cars are clean enough, mission accomplished, congratulations all.

    Now, let’s declare victory, abolish the EPA and give its funding to NASA.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Why don’t you run a car in your own bedroom for an hour or two and report back later on what it’s like to suffocate in carbon dioxide?

      The point here, which you seem to be missing completely (and I couldn’t care less about the clucking language of EPA and CARB) is that this was an organized corporate cheat, and no matter what you think about the current state of pollution control on diesels, is outright fraud and deception.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        +1. That’s the real story. Perhaps this is also why Mazda has not offered up their Skyactive-D.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        American logic.

        Corporations can cheat to gain an advantage to the detriment of customers and fair competition. The heavy hand of regulation must never come between a corporation and scorched earth (literal or metaphor).

        Football heroes however, can’t cheat – EVER.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          “American logic.”

          More like bought/leased government logic. Watching the same buyout of government in CA with the train and environmental impact studies. Or the flat footed attempts to get a pro football team to LA by building a stadium and bypassing environmental and traffic studies.

          Just follow the money trail.

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          I never understood that term – “football hero.”

          What makes a football player heroic?

          Most of them are the exact opposite of heroic.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            They are not heroes, but I think they are idolized because they can do something you and I cannot.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “..they are idolized because they can do something you and I cannot.”

            Well, so can women but they don’t fare so well in comments here.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Wmba

        I think That’s the story too. It all hinges on the mechanism used. When my wife’s Honda fit would rev hang only at epa test rpm’s I knew it was dumping nox and unburnt hydrocarbons any time I shifted over 3500rpm. Same with thecorvette skip shift. If there was a wheel speed sensor or obd2 related detection protocol used here by vw that will play differently in the court off public opinion, but more importantly, will really piss off the carb regulators who are looking for an easy political win right now. Vw being a small volume import with infrastructure in a red state, well I don’t see how they can resist.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Cars are so clean these days because of the EPA. This is an area in which mfrs cannot regulate themselves, and market forces cannot do it either, so I’m glad the government does it for the consumer and ‘breathing public’, as they put it.

      NOX is a Bad Chemical. VW diesels may comprise a small portion of US cars, but half a million of them spewing 40x the NOX limit isn’t good.

      Yes, the EPA over-reaches, and often. But I’d say their heavy-handed approach here is quite warranted.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      The problem here is mens rea. Unless VW can explain that the device wasn’t designed to defeat the tests, they are guilty.

      Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the EPA Head refuses to testify before Congress concerning the mine spill they engineered that severely polluted the major water source of the southwest US.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It’s the people that think the ideologues at the EPA are any more trustworthy than the people that run car companies that scare me.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Thank you.

        We often disagree, but mens rea is the perfect legal, latin phrase that efficiently sums up why VAG should be punished and punished to the extreme.

        “Mens rea is a legal phrase used to describe the mental state a person must be in while committing a crime for it to be intentional. It can refer to a general intent to break the law or a specific, premeditated plan to commit a particular offense.”

        And I would add mens rea should mandate that GM executives and engineers should be criminally prosecuted, and be the reason why GM’s sham bankruptcy should be reversed, over the ignition switch crimes.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          From the way this has been reported, it appears that VAG put subroutines into its ECM software with the specific intent of changing the “normal” operating parameters to ones that would pass the test. This is a higher level of fault than, assuming the worst, GM executives failing to correct — or report — a known defect in their ignition switch that, under the right circumstances, could cause death or injury. Someone at VAG should go to jail. I’m not so sure about GM; at most, that is reckless (“heedless of the consequences”) conduct. The VAG people knew — and intended — the consequences of their actions.

          As others have pointed out, the owners of these vehicles are really screwed. Certainly, the software can be re-flashed to have the engine operate in EPA-compliant mode. What no one (except VAG) knows are the consequences of doing that in terms of fuel economy, performance and longevity.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Person A watches their dog defecate on the sidewalk and leaves it there whenever nobody else is looking. Person B tied their dog to their bumper even though they killed their last three dogs by tying them to their bumper and forgetting about them. Is letting your dog take a dump on the sidewalk an incarcerable offense?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …Cars are so clean these days, you could lock yourself in the garage and run the engine until the sun explodes and you wouldn’t die from anything but boredom…

      Ya. They’re so efficient and clean these days that people are dying from forgetting to turn off push button ignition cars in their garages. Oh and among the makers that offer zero safe guards from walking away from an idling push button ignition vehicle? VAG.

      http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/hidden-dangers-of-push-button-start/ar-AAehp0x

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      A good friends wife was suffering the downside of a bipolar swing. Late that night she got out of bed and walked into the garage, entered and started her newish Accord. She left the main garage door closed but the door to the house open. My friend awoke in early morning with a splitting headache. Seeing that his wife wasn’t in bed, he went downstairs to see if she was OK. He saw her slumped over the steering wheel and stumbled out of the house. A jogger found him laying in the front yard and called the police. When the cops arrived, they opened the garage door and turned off the car. Shortly later, they found the suicide note in the kitchen.
      So yes. even new cars produce enough CO in an enclosed space to hill you.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Your example doesn’t distinguish between CO and CO2. AS World War I and II submariners learned, high CO2 levels can be toxic as well. A modern engine idling is going to produce a lot more CO2 per unit of time than CO. That very well could have done the job.

  • avatar
    mister steve

    Now we know where Sergio Marchionne can find a car company ripe for merger.

    Meanwhile, in Europe: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/14/nine-out-of-10-new-diesel-cars-in-breach-of-eu-pollution-rules-report-finds

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “We cannot choose where we breathe so we must stop cars polluting our city air,” concludes the T&E report.

      I choose not to breath in Europe, and I hope we are smart enough to hold one-world-government types accountable for treason.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I believe both VW and Nissan said they were for consolidation, but I don’t think that included Fiatsler as a partner.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The article mentions it’s 4 cyl diesels in the recall. Does that mean the 6 cyl diesels didn’t cheat?

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      It’s just with the 2.0 litre TDI. The 2.0 TDI from 2009 to 2014 didn’t use Adblue/DEF on most models (excluding the Passat). However the Passat is listed as affected.

      So maybe for the 3.0 they did things correctly from the start? I have one of the affected models, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this. I plan to keep the car for several more years so hopefully VW hasn’t screwed themselves (and their existing TDI customers) too badly with their idiocy.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        The 2.0L engines relied on LNT (Lean NOx Trap) technology to control NOx emissions. The problem with LNT is that it increases fuel consumption due to multiple regenerations to not only “clean” the DPF, but to convert the NOx stored in the NOx adsorber catalyst. It also increases the risk of aftertreatment system clogging and sooting if the main fuel injectors are used to inject fuel post-combustion to create the exothermic reaction needed to initiate regeneration.

        A better (but more costly and complex) way to do LNT is to use a dedicated doser (injector) mounted in the exhaust upstream of the catalyst, that way you don’t create the wet soot upstream that tends to coke up the emissions components.

        Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems using urea are better in that there is a lot less post-combustion fueling required to initiate regeneration since less regenerations are required. Less fueling equates to less wet soot and less coking of components. Add to that the fact that an engine using urea can be allowed (within reason, of course) to produce a bit more NOx by increasing combustion temperature and efficiency knowing that it can be cleaned up downstream in the SCR catalyst. It’s no surprise that urea equipped engines get better fuel economy than comparable engines using LNT systems – just look at the improvement in fuel economy when the 6.7L in the Ram trucks switched from LNT to urea.

  • avatar
    Slawek

    In study from 2014. 14 out of 15 new diesel cars have up to 40x higher emissions in real world than during European tests.

    http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_PEMS-study_diesel-cars_20141013.pdf

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This must be the clean diesel that I’ve heard so much about.

  • avatar

    Damn.

    I have a 12 TDi Golf. Nice car, runs decently. An exhaust flapper valve was replaced under warranty. The Diesel Particulate filter that broke at 83k, 3k past Federal Warranty, and tossed a CE light was replaced 1/2 warranty-half my cost ($2400/2). That did harsh the diesel mellow a bit. and ate up a lot of the fuel savings….but yes, I knew it was a VW going in. The service interval per the book for a DPF is 120k for first check…so clearly mine was defective, and just died a notch too late.

    There was recently a software recall, by letter from VW, number 23O6.

    No one on any of the VW boards has figured out what was in it…it was to avoid the CE lights ?

    VW was very vague in the letter. My response is not much, if any change to mileage or driving…..now I really want to know…if I have Perma-Pass software I’m not getting it re flashed.

    That is pretty brave of VW…or extremely stupid.

    The Check Engine light needs to be retired. It is vague, can be minor nonsense or a gross misfire. If you know cars and have a reader it is a PIA, if you don’t know cars and your mechanic is incompetent or dishonest, the CE light can bankrupt you.

    I know Toyota also got in trouble for this a few years back….

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      One thing I liked on my ’05 Grand Prix (and I know some other cars will do it).

      If it threw a CEL for opened gas cap, you get a discrete message and no CEL, “check gas cap,” appeared on the DIC.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Since the NOx cheat was to pass on the test it was likely to keep the DPF from clogging (as yours did). To control NOX with a diesel you need to use either more EGR (producing more soot clogging the DPF and lowering fuel economy) or use less EGR and more Urea (raising costs). Not sure if this vintage VW uses Urea. Most diesel do but some use NOx absorbers to hold NOx until operating load is high and some stoichiometric operaion can be accommodated and the NOx reduced in the post trap reactor.

      • 0 avatar

        According to the TSB and my invoice, it actually didn’t clog…the interior latticework broke, allowing unfiltered exhaust to go…it also fouls the EGR valve and filter, so all of it, way up in the nose of the car, had to be replaced….7.9 hour job !

        That is why I was annoyed they didn’t pick it all up…the part broke, not wore out.

        The 120k service interval is to check backpressure, repeated every 10k per vw and 20k per audi (same engine). Why ? Who knows …

  • avatar
    northeaster

    You have to respect one of the commenters in the NYT:

    “As a former Volkswagen owner, I have to say that I am deeply shocked that they were able to make a piece of electronics that works.”

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Volkswagens.

      Audis without the reliability or prestige.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      respect.

    • 0 avatar
      turboencabulator

      +1 for sure

      Mine spat out an alternator at 140k kms on Monday. The silver lining with the 2.0 TDI is that the alternator is at least not watercooled like in the 3.0 TDI… A 3.0 TDI alternator job will go north of 2000$ really quick.

      Coming back to the original topic, the potential rework that would be happening under an eventual recall is not likely to be felt by the owners. There is a recall campaign in Canada involving the ECU software. Is it related to the EPA connundrum? Probably? Seeing how the car used to run and currently runs, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. If anything, the torque delivery is maginally smoother above 2500 rpm. The car is not any worst that it used to be.

      That being said, VW needs to do something about the exhaust pressure sensors on the turbo (G450/G451). It’s an emission system component they will not cover under the emissions warranty. Outside of your original warranty, VW will make you pay to fix it. It’s not a question of if they fail, it’s when. And that’s a more pressing issue for the EPA and Transport Canada.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    My decision to opt for a gas VW instead of the overly complicated and apparently not-all-that-clean-anyway TDI is looking more and more like the correct one.

    My experience with this one VW has been overwhelmingly positive and I want to stay a VW fan, but stuff like this makes it difficult.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    EPA Recalling Volkswagens, Audis for Bogus Emissions Tests

    Had it been GM

    Monsters at GM Destroying the Planet with Diesel Polluting Vehicles Purposely Designed to Fool Emissions Tests – UAW Thought To Blame

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Those [email protected] UAW thugs!

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      In the recent past it was GM. You didn’t see the article about GM’s $900 million fine yesterday for the faulty ignition switch?

      124 people killed.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/business/gm-to-pay-us-900-million-over-ignition-switch-flaw.html

      Real saints at RenCen.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Considering that 30 million cars were recalled going back to model year 2000, the number killed is amazingly low. There may have been many more deaths/injuries in which the defect was involved, but other factors like driver impairment, speeding, other driver error, and extreme weather conditions made it impossible to pin the blame on the switch alone. The fact that many cars have had no problems indicates the defect is borderline, and someone signed off on it to save money.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Had it been GM that did something that didn’t result in thousands of consumer complaints and hundreds of deaths, we’d have never heard about it.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        How can you say that when they just this past week had a finer for >$900 million. we heard about the sorry saga, rightly, for the past year or so. At least base your conspiracies on some facts.

  • avatar
    LeafMeAlone

    VW broke the law. These TDI engines are illegal immigrants. They are raping our emissions detectors and offering up phony nitrogen oxide numbers just so they can get across our boarders. They are putting hard working, law abiding American cars out of work. We need to build a wall to keep them out. Let’s make the Germans pay for the wall. We’ll put some good people on it and get it done.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Even though I own one of the affected vehicles and will likely wind up losing money over this, I’m highly amused. I can’t wait to get my recall notice for the Golf SportWagen.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Unless you live in a state that still does treadmill tests I expect there won’t be much of await.

      “OK, all you people that came in to have your performance downgraded, line up here. Please, no pushing and shoving, you’ll all get your power cut.”

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Oh gee, I wonder where all the money from the fines will go?

    If not to finance the auto manufacturer witch hunt, I could take a guess. Bonuses for all the EPA higher-ups and all-expense-paid staff trips to Puerto Rico! I’ll watch for the ensuing headlines about hookers and drugs.

    These idiots will search for a way to fine all of Toyota’s competition out of business so the only cars available will be the Prius and Prius XL Grande.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Yeah, and that Playskool nightmare Google’s trying to make work in the real world.

      Don’t forget that.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Even the Fisher Price Little People don’t want the Google car. They would rather take their bus that has no windows or roof.

        • 0 avatar
          GermanReliabilityMyth

          They’re searching for any way to get us autonomous drivers out of our cars. This means we only take transport shuttles to work and for emergencies only. No joy rides. The net result is less pollution. Meanwhile, Chinese urban dwellers can’t tell you what they had for lunch.

          The sad part is, even I can’t tell if I’m joking.

          Also, this says reaffirms one thing about the government’s priorities:

          the environment > human lives

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Flash news: VW finds ANOTHER way to turn customers in to life time non-customers!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “EPA slammed the automaker for using the device that can detect when the car is being tested for emissions and implement full pollutant controls to curb nitrogen oxide emissions.”

    This is absolutely awesome.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    VAG is an expert at this.

    On my B5 A4 you could unplug one single hidden hose on top of the throttle body and prevent the EGR valve from operating except when OBDII emission tested the system.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    ***BREAKING NEWS***

    VAG develops electronic/ECU component that reliably, consistently works at its intended purpose.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Just a friendly reminder to Floridians or anyone thinking of moving to our state: NO VEHICLE INSPECTIONS!!!! I know if I had a VW I couldn’t afford the time to have this repair done. I’m just too busy…

    • 0 avatar

      No catalytic converter?
      No functioning smog systems?
      Constant misfire/CEL?
      75% of your required exterior lighting?
      Treadbare tires with belts showing through?
      Scale rust literally deteriorating off the fram?
      Bumpers held on with bungee cords?
      Bumper substituted with lumber?
      No bumpers at all?

      Got $380 for a new plate?

      Legal!

      -FL HSMV

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @Flybrian – you betcha! When I was just starting out on my own, it was nice to not have to worry about the occasional CEL. My sister enjoyed not having to fix her bad catalyst…until she moved to Pennsylvania. oops – unintended moving expense. There was a chance my BMW had a bad catalyst. It threw a code once that then cleared. My mechanic said if it came back, my options were either to replace the catalyst for $$$$ or since he could just do a tune on the engine that would clear the code and would not be nearly as expensive. I’ve since gotten rid of the car but was glad at that time to live in Florida.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          One year at Virginia Tech, there were some interesting dudes that hung out with my roommates. They rode thousand mile days, fueled by narcotics, on modified Honda VFR750s. They told stories about near-random violence, and basically tried to create the aura of a motorcycle gang, just with much better taste in motorcycles. Every one of their bikes had Florida tags.

    • 0 avatar
      wolftoons

      AND we get to drive in the HOV lane with all of the hybrids and electrics as well!

  • avatar
    z9

    Some people seem to be suggesting that VW may not be able to fix compliance in software without reducing the performance and efficiency of the engine. So then what happens?

    Earlier this summer in France, where 80% of the cars are diesel, a program started to take MY 2001 and earlier cars off the road. The pollution in Paris was so bad in May the mayor banned half the cars from driving each day (based on license plate numbers).

    Tricky programming may not be the innovation that will save the diesel from the inevitable.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I would an opinion from a product attorney, if such a thing exists. Wouldn’t the contingent liability come from the custom lawsuits? Seems to me, if this whole thing proves to be true, VW be open to unfair and deceptive practice lawsuits? They clearly advertised their product did one thing, run clean, and the reality is that it dos not. Unless of course you are operating it in a dyno, then your emissions are no less noxious than a babies breath.

    I would think that some attorney could argue VW needs to purchase all fo the cars back and refund the customers money due to the fact they materially misrepresented the viability of their product. Who knows, this little nugget of news could turn out to be a massive deal.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    Current owners are not required to have recalls performed. If you are a TDI owner and don’t wish to apply the fix that VW develops, then ignore the recall and motor on.

    On a personal note, TDI owners seem to miss the fact that diesel costs more than gasoline and the 10-15mpg improvement that diesel provides over gasoline is quickly absorbed through higher fuel and purchase costs.

    Signed,

    A VW Service Advisor

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Diesel is actually cheaper than unleaded in Kalifornistan now that we have Cap(our prosperity) and Trade(away our freedom).

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        I’ll bet you think that W was good for the country too.

        • 0 avatar
          dr_outback

          No. I simply find it amusing that a relatively small number of vehicles are singled out for producing more NOx emissions during a standarzided test, meanwhile American’s are buying more trucks and SUV’s with 18-20mpg EPA combined figures and can drive their vehicle’s in any way they see fit, all the while wasting whatever amount of fuel they or their credit cards can afford.

    • 0 avatar
      wolftoons

      Diesel is 2.49 in south Florida, and 93 octane is 2.38

      As a VW Service Advisor,you would recommend using 93 octane in a turbo gasoline engine right?

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Agreed. I’ve already told my two family members affected to ignore the eventual recall software for at least a year to see what the effects are. My gut is telling me the flash may put the tdi’s nearer their epa sticker mileage (which both routinely beat right now).

      I also don’t understand the tdi obsession in light of the newestgeneration gas alternatives. The markets I see them in are not Midwestern endless highway diesel dream commutes.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      As a former MB diesel owner, I approve this message

    • 0 avatar

      Clatter-juice is now less than midgrade by me here in the NYC metro area. Diesel here has usually been between high grade and mid grade gas, save a price spike in the dead of winter when it is the same or a bit more than high grade.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      In many states, they’ll likely find a way to check for the fix at emmissions test time. FL will be different.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    Fantastic. Fucking great. Guess where I will be tomorrow morning: at a previously scheduled test drive in a SportWagen TDI.

  • avatar

    I have to believe that Smokey Yunick is smiling somewhere.

    I also believe that the folks at the EPA will use this as an excuse to mandate that car companies make their systems and software accessible to the regulators.

    Being able to monitor what the ECU is telling the engine to do would be useful in detecting cheats like this.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I think you are right about the epa access play. The backdoor they will ask for will only facilitate a broadening of the choicesin the aftermarket tuning industry however. It seems like the epa and carb administrators are trying to wrangle the political capital to go after that industry right now, so I’m looking forward to some entertaining unintended consequences.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      I believe that this was already on the cards to a certain degree. This from last year:

      http://articles.sae.org/13374/

      Here the EPA is now going to design combustion chambers and somehow leapfrog the automakers. Made little sense to me then, now I’m not so sure. Still, why the government would do this is unclear to me, I mean why not hire Ricardo or any one of another half-dozen independent engine design labs to do this work?

      The paranoid are leaping about like geckos on LSD and claiming VW is more trustworthy than the dastardly EPA, when 40 times the allowable limit on NOX is a definite problem. The argument that VW was only trying to satisfy its customers is beyond laughable.

      Autoweek has a .jpg showing part of the EPA letter to VW, in which the EPA says it acknowledges that VW admits guilt. My understanding of regulation making is that there is usually a 90 day period for comments. Why didn’t VW put forward its fears about meeting the standards then? Hubris? Because they don’t even meet the previous standards, let alone the current ones.

      In Europe right now, all the automakers are complaining about the proposed 2025 emissions, so apparently VW thought more of their Clean Diesel marketing campaign in the US than actually doing the engineering to get it right.

      Sad.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Two comments:

        About marketing vs. engineering. You should realize that those two departments are completely unrelated. In the case of VWoA, they don’t reside on the same continent. Did marketing know that “clean” diesels weren’t? No. Did engineering know/care what ads would be run in the US market? No.

        About the EPA doing science and research. That’s part of their mandate, and has been since day 1. The reason why may seem unclear at first but, when you think about it, you can not have an effective EPA that doesn’t do research. You can’t regulate something that you don’t understand, and you can’t trust the entities that you are regulating to do that research for you. Their only concern is short-term stockholder returns; they don’t know/care about childhood asthma rates and bee populations.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-volkswagen-diesel-scandal-20150918-story.html

    They might even become the Milli Vanilli of the auto world, [TrueCar Analyst Eric] Lyman said — a reference to the musical duo that suffered bad PR when it was revealed its singers were lip-syncing to other people’s recorded voices — and be asked to give back awards won by its “clean diesel” vehicles.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    In my previous life at an automotive supplier, there was occasional talk about attempting a ploy like this on mandated govt tests. But the fear of discovery and some type of “death penalty” always over-rode it.

    Will be interesting to see how VW turns out. Of course it’s an election year and the Obama Foundation is planning a billion dollar POTUS library so there’s plenty of places to apply “grease” to ease the pain.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Meh. The landscaper’s truck in front of me in traffic yesterday probably belched more crap in one trip than every single recalled VW TDI combined.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Does this mean we are truly hitting a peak with what the automakers can do with combustion engines? We have several automakers getting caught fudging MPG numbers, now VW purposely programs their cars to cheat the EPA emissions test.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      When Hyundai was bagged making unsubstantiated claims of mpg, it wasn’t long after that every automaker also had to step up to the plate and admit that their mpg numbers were derived under the most ideal of conditions.

      CTS gas pedal in Toyota products. Not long after Ford was included as well.

      Takata airbags. You guessed it, every automaker that used them had to issue recalls.

      Plenty of examples to illustrate fudging of all sorts is widespread throughout the industry.

      Diesel engine emission testing is going to affect any manufacturer offering a diesel ingine in America. Watch and see.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I would be 100% behind that assumption normally. Except that vw was the only brands to offer legal non urea diesel treatment. Since 15 stayed everything is now urea. What might make me wrong is that the passat was urea and is on the list.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Didn’t know that. Not a fan since our 1982 Quantum and 1982 4000.

          But I did drive a diesel Passat in Germany for about six weeks while visiting family there a couple of months back.

          Unremarkable. Accelerated like a limping dog on tranquilizers. Never felt the pain of fill-ups since we filled up on the nearby American base as military retirees.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    I may very well have bought a 2015 GolfSportWagen SE TDI last month if the internet sales lady did not include a $2000 paint protection package in the OTD price I asked for. When I complained, she took $500 off the price of the fluff. I figured there was no point in even negotiating with them after that. It was clear they had no intention of selling it for the advertised price.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Seems ominous that it was only midweek last week that I was building a potential TDI Sportwagon replacement for my 05 LGT.
    Shame on me for even thinking to replace it…


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