Volkswagen Isn't 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.
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