For Some TDI Owners, Conflicting Messages on Trade-in

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

As Volkswagen works to make amends with customers and the public, TDI owners ready to give up their illegally polluting cars are hearing conflicting messages from some Volkswagen dealers who are either unwilling to or begrudgingly taking in those cars on trade.

A TDI owner said when he took his car into Flow Motors Volkswagen in North Carolina last month the dealership told him it wouldn’t initially accept his vehicle for trade. The dealer originally had asked if the owner had found a willing dealership to take his car.

“ … Let me know as I have a couple of other diesel owners I will send if things worked out for you,” the dealer wrote in an email after they turned down the man’s diesel car.

“To say I’m irritated is an understatement,” the TDI owner wrote.

The owner said the dealer has since accepted his car after Volkswagen of America insisted that it would buy back those cars from dealers if they’ve sat on lots long enough. The owner asked not to be identified because he said he still services his cars at the dealer and fears retribution.

When contacted last week, a sales manager for Flow Motors said that the dealership would accept TDI models. However, he advises customers not to trade in those cars, “just like any other recall,” he told TTAC.

“We’ll take it, but it’s just not a good idea.”

The sales manager refused to be identified on the record. A general manager for Flow did not comment and Flow Motors’ Chief Financial Officer Tim Jefferies did not return repeated calls for comment.

Volkswagen said it’s only issued a stop-sale on its cars but trade-ins at Volkswagen dealers are still allowed. However, those stores are independently owned and can’t be forced into accepting cars, a Volkswagen spokesman said.

Volkswagen wouldn’t make public its correspondence with dealers.

Other owners on diesel forums say they’ve encountered similar dealerships that have refused taking diesel cars on trade.

Other dealerships, such as Emich Volkswagen in Denver, say they’re taking the TDI models and offering up to 15 percent over current values for drivers looking to get out of those cars.

General Manager Fred Emich said his dealership is using money Volkswagen sent its dealers last month to offset costs from the growing diesel scandal and to help pay more for affected diesel vehicle trades.

“Volkswagen gave dealers discretionary funds, we’re using them to essentially trade people out of TDIs — for people who don’t feel comfortable driving those cars,” he said.

Emich said he was aware of a plan by Volkswagen to buy back those cars at pre-crisis prices, but that Volkswagen didn’t detail those plans when it was announced. Just like drivers, Emich said he was waiting to hear from Volkswagen on what it would do for dealers.

“There were no details and what we’ve received thus far hasn’t told us what to expect,” Emich said.

Emich said he’s seen many TDI owners come in to trade in their illegally polluting cars and that those owners were using the loyalty discount to buy other Volkswagen cars.

According to Bloomberg, the company is asking dealers to take diesel cars at pre-scandal prices and offering cash and no-interest loans to offset costs for the cars taking up space on lots.

“They have to keep those dealers on board, afloat and as happy as they can, because the dealers are going to be on the front line whenever there’s a fix for this problem,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst with, told Bloomberg. “Dealers are absolutely critical when these bad things happen.”

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  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Nov 10, 2015

    I have heard on the vw forums a dealership in VA giving trade ins at pre crisis levels as well so some are doing that. The only way VW will buy back these cars is if you buy another VW and I doubt other car companies want VW to set a precedent like that. I can see them doing a super trade in on the older cars where the fix will cost more but even that is a reach but could happen. many folks will not trade them in esp if they live in a no test state. I just paid off my TDI before this happened and I am not looking for another payment. Part of the reason TDI values are down is gas is dirt cheap so why pay the extra premium to get into a TDI, that was before this broke. if you need to get out trade for a gas version of the same VW and with the money VW is giving you , you should break even at worse. Until VW says what the fix is I will be in a holding pattern.

    • See 2 previous
    • Thattruthguy Thattruthguy on Nov 10, 2015

      @CJinSD There are plenty of practical reasons to get out of owning a TDi if someone can do so without taking a financial hit. It isn't just about Bambi. This is a mess, and the owners are stuck in it too. A gas VW is further from the mess, so a reasonable deal on a gas VW may be an improvement.

  • Irvingklaws Irvingklaws on Nov 11, 2015

    I recently received a glossy printed offer from my dealer to buy back my TDI and put me in a new VW. It came with a hand written note from the sales manager saying, "Let's make this right!" Nice gesture on it's face I suppose. Though, I've received other hand written notes from VW dealers in the past, effectively using the "personal touch" as a sales tactic. Even got the same notes from 2 separate dealers before. They must all attended the same marketing seminar. I'm sure some people are just looking to trade out of their cars because they only keep them a few years and its time for a new one. The timing has nothing to do with this scandal. Year end is typically a good time to pick up a deal. Now they're finding their cars are made of kryptonite. Especially if they want to buy from a dealer other than VW.

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