By on November 10, 2015


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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32 Comments on “For Some TDI Owners, Conflicting Messages on Trade-in...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “The owner asked not to be identified because he said he still services his cars at the dealer and fears retribution.”

    If he fears retribution, he shouldn’t have mentioned the name of the dealership. I’m sure Flow Motors Volkswagen can read this article and narrow it down to one or two people that they had this exact conversation with.

    • 0 avatar

      “What? You won’t take my TDI back? I’m leaving, or my name isn’t Jim Westwood!” Storms out.

      *Two days later*

      “Hi this is TTAC and we got an anonymous tip that YOU wouldn’t take back a TDI! What gives?”

  • avatar

    Volkswagen needs to buy back all these TDIs, crush them, and be done with it. Yes, it’ll cost a lot, but at least they’d put a stop to the bleeding.

    This course is just ticking off their customers and dealers in the process of losing a similar amount of money over a longer period of time.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree this is a smart course of action.

    • 0 avatar

      I mean, do you Have to trade in your diesel? How much does it pollute compared to, say, a ’70 Eldorado? I bet much less in spite of all the hype.

      Personally, I’d keep mine. You’ll take it in the shorts if you sell now and 1 of them probably emits about 1/1 billionth the harmful pollutants in a year that 1 mid sized Chinese toy factory emits in a day. If we’re serious about pollution we ought to start there.

      • 0 avatar

        How much does it pollute compared to recycling a perfectly serviceable car? How much energy is wasted destroying one car and then building another in the name of an arbitrarily set limit on a pollutant of which cars are a token source?

        • 0 avatar

          Who said anything about TDIs getting “destroyed”? Trade-ins will get “fixed” and resold, with the TDI accepting dealer likely taking it in the shorts. VWoA should pay the dealer for the trouble/loss though.

          • 0 avatar

            VAG, who knew this was going on with EPA for a year, should have nipped it in the bud on Day 2 by saying we will buy all TDIs back at Black Book + 10% (or some other incentive) and destroy them (but then really just ship the bulk overseas to mitigate losses say to “poor countries”). I’d wager 1/3 to 1/2 of owners or lessees would have taken this, and then with statist morons obsessed with the Green Religion freak out, VWoA could say we took X off the market and our offer stands with the rest for 1 year. They were going to be railed by USG and have to fix it regardless once the story broke. But by reducing supply the value of the remaining TDIs would have increased making those customers happy while satisfying ones who felt they were screwed and appearing to go above and beyond in making up for their transgressions. Image is key in dealing with a crisis.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know how it would compare to recycling a “perfectly serviceable car”, ask the Cash for Clunkers people. They had plenty of practice.

        • 0 avatar

          @ CJinSD, you say

          “arbitrarily set limit on a pollutant of which cars are a token source?”

          Where did you come up with this gem? I call BS. It’s like the rest of the time when you’re quoting “studies” to support your strange point-of-view, which seems highly inconsistent in any case. I’ve never been able to figure your viewpoint out in eleven years of reading your utterings.

          I’d suggest the limits were not arbitrary, and that cars ARE a significant source of NOx. What is arbitrary is your interpretation.

          Some decent refernces please on both counts, please, otherwise it’s miscellaneous ramblings of zero import, opinion, not fact.

          • 0 avatar


            Here’s a thought. Perhaps you don’t understand my point of view for the same reason you can’t use a search engine to find a source like this one:


            Transportation contributes 5% of US Nitrous Oxide emissions. That’s total transportation, not just 482,000 small displacement diesel cars.

            What isn’t arbitrary about expensive to meet restrictions on a pollutant that small cars aren’t emitting in significant volume?

            Arbitrary means based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system. Arbitrary acts of power or of a ruling body are unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority. Apropos to the regulation, no? Or is that another word I’d have to define for you, since you know so little due to your inability to research or learn?

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            Looking at NOx emissions over the entire country is a flawed form of analysis.

            NOx pollution is only a concern in urban areas where it is concentrated, and thus vehicle NOx regulations are set based on what contributes specifically to urban smog.

            If all the cars & trucks in the US were distributed equally across our vast nation, the story would be different, and there would be no need for any tailpipe emissions standards at all. But they’re not equally distributed. Over 80% of US vehicles are operated within urban areas that make up only 3% of our land.

          • 0 avatar

            So you’re saying that 80% of transportation emissions are taking place in 3% of our land? So what? Since the vast majority of NOx production is occurring in rural areas, I’m not too worried about the prospect that as much as 4% of NOx emissions are occurring in high density areas, especially since transportation includes shipping and airplane travel, meaning that car emissions of NOx probably aren’t even a fart in the wind.

      • 0 avatar

        My thoughts exactly…FULL DISCLOSURE: I drive a 2015 RAM EcoDiesel…but this is really getting a lot of media drama added to the mix. Yes, the TDIs bypassed emissions laws but how many other diesel and gas vehicles emit more than specified? Did you ever see the comparison of a 2-cycle 28cc trimmer and a Ford F-150? The pollution from the trimmer is worse because they aren’t really regulated. I BELIEVE in global warming too, so let’s start with real issues…China and India…

        • 0 avatar

          The preliminary resultszof the testing are that VW is the only one than blatently cheated this way.

          I’m sure some of others are “teaching to the test”, but that’s not the name as cheating.

      • 0 avatar

        @Superdessucke: You’re spot on. That has been my thinking all along. It’s not everyone has a Volkswagen like they do a Toyota, and it can’t be that bad in comparison to a heavy-duty diesel truck or a 10-20 year-old diesel vehicle.

        As hard as it is for me to say this as someone who’s very rarely an advocate of government regulation, the EPA should fine those responsible appropriately and fairly because the “law was broken” and move on. It’s not that big of a deal.

        After all this is said and done, I think it would be best for manufacturers to form a privatized testing agency and begin a crusade to to minimize the need for government involvement. That way the guidelines are more reasonable and are agreeable for both the consumer and the manufacturers. It eliminates arbitrary rules that only the government comes up with: not good for business and not good for the free market.

        If I owned a TDI Volkswagen I wouldn’t even be blinking an eye.

        • 0 avatar

          You don’t understand how it works. The EPA doesn’t just arbitrarily make up standards. They have slowly tightened up the standards over the years and the mfgs were consulted and have lobbied/negotiated for changes in the standards and implementation dates ect.

          Additionally the certification testing is done by the mfg, not the EPA. The EPA does do random spot check or if they have reason to believe that a vehicle is not compliant. Or at least that was the way until they found out just how deep the cheating went at VW.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to know how the “dirty” the modern TDIs are compared to oil boilers, which a high percentage of people in the Northeast use.

        I know with my car I can barely smell anything at idle, but in my neighbourhood in Maine, you can often see and smell the heating oil emissions from the houses. Since heating oil is basically dyed #2 diesel, it makes me wonder how much NOx the boilers put out on a daily basis, especially in the winter. There are zero emission controls on residential boilers and I’ve never heard anyone talk about such things.

  • avatar

    I saw the same panic among drivers when the Camry problems were happening a few years ago. People were desperate to make a rash decision to get out now, and lost their shirts. Patience is required here.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but the Camry issue was safety related. At this time of the year, the extra NOx emissions aren’t even an air pollution issue.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, the excess emissions ARE the issue, and the “time of the year” makes no difference. Throw in the egregious dishonesty and multiple laws that were knowingly and intentionally broken, and VW has crippled its reputation on a Nixonian level.

  • avatar

    Aaron I had been wondering about this end of the business, nice piece.

  • avatar

    I just went to a bakery and saw a nice lady in a nice TDI Touareg pull out of the lot and get minigunned by a black helicopter half a block down the road.

    I almost dropped my quiche! This is evidently a serious issue.

  • avatar

    About the included picture: was there ever a TDI version of the Eos?

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t understand why someone that needs to get out of their VW TDI over this issue would find another VW product as a logical replacement. If someone learns about this issue and waits to see how it plays out, I get that. If someone feels betrayed over their commitment to being green, then I comprehend why they don’t want a VW anymore. The idea that someone is freaked out over VW’s conduct to the extent that they’re dumping their car for another VW is about as fine an illustration of the mentality of greens as one might see.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Is the hybrid Jetta still around? or the E-Golf?

      • 0 avatar

        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.

  • avatar

    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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