Volkswagen Isn't Willing to Buy Back Your Stripped Diesel

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
volkswagen isnt willing to buy back your stripped diesel

If you were considering stripping your Volkswagen diesel prior to returning it, hit the brakes on that project immediately. VW’s nonspecific wording in the buyback terms created a gray area of legality that a few emissions scandal-affected owners decided to test, removing unessential portions of their 2.0-liter TDI-equipped models.

However, after a particularly thorough set of peelings, a federal judge warned opportunistic owners not to strip parts out of their vehicles before attempting to sell them back to Volkswagen through the company’s emissions settlement.

The initial theory was that the language used the settlement required only that cars be capable of movement under their own power in order to qualify for a buyback — providing a legal loophole for the removal of radios, mirrors, seats, doors, and anything else that wasn’t directly connected to the drivetrain. After one owner successfully returned a damaged vehicle with a missing bumper, it seemed like open season.

It was not.

USA Today reports that, leading up to Christmas weekend, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer cautioned owners to end the practice.

Robert Giuffra, VW’s attorney, said at Thursday’s court hearing that “a handful of owners have brought in vehicles that have been regrettably, deliberately stripped of parts.”

He even mentioned one owner that who had removed “almost every part” of their buyback vehicle, still intent on returning it. That “goes too far” and “they should not be engaging in deliberate parts stripping,” Giuffra explained to the judge.

Breyer agreed. “Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars,” he said.

Jonathan Cohen, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, said the FTC is “absolutely against bad-faith behavior by consumers.” However, he also issued a reminder that Volkswagen cannot decline buyback payments based upon a “vehicle’s superficial condition.”

So if your Golf TDI just so happens to be missing a mirror, possesses some unsightly dents, or is inexplicably fitted with incorrect wheels, you are probably within your rights. However, converting your VW into a frame on wheels with a motor attached is absolutely out of the question.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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2 of 46 comments
  • RHD RHD on Dec 27, 2016

    Those who want an additional pound of flesh from VW could just put a carefully located dent in each panel, just big enough to make the body work necessary to resell uneconomical. Other passive-aggressive sabotage could include contamination of the vital fluids. Doing anything like that would be wrong, and is not recommended. We still don't know what will happen to these cars in the future. Even if VW tries to suck it up and do the right thing, they have lost a huge number of future customers.

  • Sirwired Sirwired on Dec 28, 2016

    This result should surprise nobody. The intent of the agreement is clear, and deliberately maximizing harm to VW is well outside of it. In other news, if anybody was wondering why contracts for the simplest transactions often run dozens of pages, now you know.

  • Jkross22 Current Mazda interiors match or beat Audi. Chunky buttons, clicky knobs, big displays - pity that Mazda hasn't figured out how to boot the crappy Bose system and offer up something better. No shortage of audio companies that could help with that.
  • Skippity “Things To Watch Out For When Buying a 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7.” A 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7.
  • Mike Beranek Would you cross this man? No way!
  • Skippity I kinda like styling. There’s plenty of lookalike boxes on the road. Nice to see something unique.
  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.