By on January 6, 2017

tdiengine

Assuming owners of 2.0-liter diesel Volkswagens aren’t so pissed at the company that thoughts of cash extraction and corporate punishment fill their every waking hour, up to 70,000 of the little polluters could be spared.

After failing multiple times to whip up a fix for the emissions-rigged engines, VW has made a breakthrough with the U.S. government. That means owners of certain VW and Audi vehicles have a choice to make.

The automaker’s $16.5 billion settlement clearly spelled out owners of affected vehicles could sell their cars back to the company (and be handed an extra pile of cash for their troubles), or opt for a yet-undefined fix. Well, the Environmental Protection Agency has now approved a fix, Reuters reports.

Due to a change in engine design, only the newest models equipped with 2.0-liter diesels have a chance at a longer life. These include 2015 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, and Passat models, as well as the 2015 Audi A3.

The approved fix is twofold. Owners opting to keep their diesels can go in for a minor software tweak right away, which should reduce emissions slightly. However, in about a year, a much larger fix should become available. Those modifications include both software and hardware updates, including the installation of a diesel particulate filter, diesel oxidation catalyst and NOx catalyst.

EPA claims the full fix won’t affect the vehicles’ “fuel economy, reliability, or durability.”

Under the settlement, 85 percent of the 475,000 affected vehicles must be off the road by June 2019, which makes the 70,000 figure a rosy theoretical ceiling. So far, the buyout option has proven popular, and with good reason. When else will an automaker pay pre-scandal value for a car, and hand you up to $10,000 as a gift?

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35 Comments on “Volkswagen Can Save 70,000 TDI Vehicles, if their Owners Want It...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    So we’re supposed to what, trust vw that the modifications brings the cars into compliance?

    You can’t exactly say “just trust us on this one” after all that.

    Also, adding two kinds of catalysts and a DPF will absolutely ruin fuel economy, reliability, and durability.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Nobody said that. No doubt that Volkswagen was completely and totally in the wrong here, but they’d be suicidal to try anything else. Presumably, this fix will have been engineered and tested under the watchful eye of the EPA, so you can bet it’s been reviewed with a fine-toothed comb, which is probably why it took so long. The article even says that the announcement comes from the EPA itself, not Volkswagen.

      I have called the TDI hotline and they confirm that this approval took place, that owners will be notified, and that owners can have the fix approved ASAP

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the article wasn’t clear, but these cars already have DPFs, DOCs, and SCR (AdBlue.) The way I interpret it is they’ll need larger units swapped in to be compliant.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That sounds right. Nice avatar, BTW :P

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          I was about to say the same thing. I guess it’s not a bad deal to get all those expensive parts replaced, giving you a fresh start on the depreciation cycle. However, I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a marked increase in DEF consumption; note that it wasn’t mentioned along with “fuel economy, reliability, and durability”.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Here’s a complete description of the impact:

            https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com/en/docs/emissions/Gen3_Emissions_Modification_Disclosure_Volkswagen.pdf

            Looks like the big things for Phase 1 of the fix are slightly lower shifting points for DSG-equipped vehicles, and between 1 and 14 percent greater AdBlue consumption

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well, this is big news, and it’s in-line with what we initially thought…that the newer EA288 TDIs (Gen III) would be economical to fix with modifications, versus the older EA189 diesels.

    The restitution payment for my 2015 Golf SportWagen SEL with DSG and Lighting Package is a shade over $7,600. In the VW owner portal, VW stated that the proposed fix would take place in two parts, so I already knew that. I would receive half of that restitution figure upon the completion of the first fix and the other half upon the completion of the second.

    I’m still probably going to sell mine back, but this is interesting. I’m eager to hear more about this.

    • 0 avatar
      5280thinair

      Yep, pretty much as expected. I figured my 2010 (lacking the more advanced emissions hardware) was highly unlikely to be fixable. I turned it in yesterday and find myself somewhat bummed about it. On the one hand, getting ~75% of the money I’d paid for it back after 6 years of use was pretty good compared to what the residual value would normally be on a car of that age. On the other, it was one the best cars I’ve ever owned (extremely reliable, I know, not VW’s reputation but I never had anything approaching a major problem with it) and I was really sorry to see it go.

      Still on the fence regarding what to do for a replacement. Fortunately I’m in a situation where I don’t need to buy right away. The VW dealer was certainly hoping to sell me a replacement right then and there, with one of the sales guys hovering around and really wanting to ask us some questions.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “The VW dealer was certainly hoping to sell me a replacement right then and there, with one of the sales guys hovering around and really wanting to ask us some questions.”

        Oh, I brought my GSW in to have the coolant system pressure-tested (it keeps losing enough coolant to trigger a light every couple of months), and I had the owner of the dealership practically begging me to take a Passat SE off of him that I expressed vague interest in…and by “vague interest”, I mean that I glanced at the window sticker, since it was in the showroom and I had nothing to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Correction…you get 2/3 of the restitution upon completion of the first phase and the remaining 1/3 upon completion of the second phase.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    This is interesting but would someone please re-explain to me why an engine swap is not one of the proposed fixes? Stresses on the chassis or it’s simply cheaper to buyback?

    I’ve wondered if part of VW’s thinking is to wait a while and turn TDI Golfs and Jettas in to very low-cost fleet e-vehicles or some other pseudo-marketing move rather than just send them all to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      why would it be? It’s not that the engines are emitting excessive amounts of pollutants compared to any other diesel engine; no diesel can pass EPA requirements without the full stack of aftertreatment hardware: Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC,) Selective Reduction Catalyst (SCR,) and Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF.)

      VW cheated because they didn’t want to spend the money on catalysts and filters which could actually handle cleaning up after the engine during real-world driving. So when the PCM sensed the car was being tested, it probably admitted a lot more EGR than during normal driving to keep NOx levels lower so the catalyst could handle it. In the real world it dialed EGR back to improve performance, but the resulting increase in pollutants overwhelmed the catalyst.

      on the EA189 cars (2009-2013?) they tried to get away without using SCR at all by combining an “NOx adsorber” into the DPF, and then probably EGR’d the s**t out of the engine while testing.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Close.

        -Gen 1 (EA189) was from 2009-2014, in all of the compact Volkswagen diesels, plus the first-gen A3 diesel.
        -Gen 2 appears to be an EA189 with an SCR (AdBlue / DEF-fluid) function, and was only used in the Passat from 2012-2014
        -Gen 3 (EA288) is the final engine, which was all-new, and replaced both the Gen 1 in the small cars and the Gen 2 in the Passat

        • 0 avatar
          1998redwagon

          kyree, i have a gen2 so i still do not have a fix? would like to keep it as turning it in severely screws up our family car payment plans.

          what’s the diff btwn gen2 and gen3?

          • 0 avatar
            brettc

            I think there’s a chance the gen 2 cars might get fixed. It would require more Adblue dosing (aka more frequent refills) and there is also a provision in the settlement for a water sensor to be installed in the urea tank on gen 2 cars.

            I’m not completely sure of the differences between the two aside from the EA288 being a new modular engine design that produces a little bit more power. There’s a self study guide at http://pics3.tdiclub.com/data/517/820433_EA288.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            The Gen 1 and Gen 2 are EA189, which was the first iteration of VW’s “Clean Diesel” engines. The difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2, among other things, is that Gen 1 has a lean NOx trap, but no SCR, while Gen 2 has a relatively-small SCR system under the floor. Meanwhile, Gen 3 (EA288) is a clean-sheet design, and completely different from Gen 1 and Gen 2. It employs a much-more comprehensive emissions system, with two SCRs, one relatively-close to the engine, and the other under the floor.

            But, no, your Gen 2 doesn’t have a fix, yet. However, it’s a lot more likely that Gen 2 will receive a fix than that Gen 1, which has no SCR or space for a urea tank (in some cars), will.

            Really, if you’re not ready to buy another car, you have until September of 2018 to sell your car back to VW, so you can continue to drive it until either a fix is offered, or you’re ready to let it go. However, if you total the car between now and then, you’ll be paid market value for what it’s worth at that time, so you could lose some money. But even if you total it, you’ll still be eligible for your restitution payment, which I believe is the same money you’d get if there was a fix and you had it performed.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            “turning it in severely screws up our family car payment plans”

            How? You can’t find a low mileage replacement for the money VW cuts you a check for? I don’t see how that’s possible. Even if you bought the same VW with a gas engine, I’m quite sure you could find an example at or below what the payout offer is. If budget is a concern over the long term, I’d consider moving away from European brands altogether. There are a lot of choices.

            You are driving a “used” car now, what is the difference in getting another used car? Maybe one slightly newer, with lower mileage and some manufacturers warranty left to provide some peace of mind?

      • 0 avatar
        desertsoldier22

        It does not quite work like that but close. There are three main pollutants emitted by all IC engines gas or diesel. Hydrocarbons(HC) which is unburned fuel. Carbon monoxide (CO) which is the byproduct of burning a hydrocarbon based fuel and Oxides of Nitrogen which is a byproduct of lean burning an engine (which raises combustion temps) to reduce the first two pollutants. In a diesel the Diesel particulate filter (DPF) Primarily reduces both of the first two of these pollutants HC and CO by trapping heavy soot particles and reducing CO through a hexagonal trap and rare earth metal catalyst. The Selective Reduction catalyst (SCR) is an injector that spray urea into an oxidizing catalyst to reduce NOX. The EGR system selectively dilutes the intake mixture with post treated exhaust which is mostly HC and CO even after the DPF to lower combustion temps during light cruise load to further reduce NOX and burn the rest of the unburnt hydrocarbons. The problem with lower combustion temps is more soot quickly overwhelming the DPF.
        A larger DPF would restrict more power, and add weight to the vehicle, using the SCR more with higher combustion temps would deplete the Urea faster (Pissing off customers having to buymore overpriced VW branded piss). So VW said screw it we will reduce via the PCM the duty cycle of both the EGR and SCR, raising Nox levels. Frankly the VW’s have a negligible NOX level, far less than a medium or heavy duty diesel. But alas instead of 20 ppm of Nox they are 27ppm which is above the EPA’s overly stringent standards. NOX is not as serious a pollutant as HC and CO, and is a natural atmospheric component gas like Co2 and O3, it just makes a brown haze in the LA basin…..

    • 0 avatar
      5280thinair

      Keep in mind rework done after a car has been assembled is hugely more expensive than doing it on the assembly line. Converting to electric or to a gas engine would require a lot of labor on top of the parts. Keeping it a diesel but adding on the proper emissions equipment is difficult on many of the cars because they weren’t designed with it in mind (e.g. no place for the urea tank).

      • 0 avatar
        TDIandThen....

        Thank you 5280, I was thinking 1.8 TSI or some other gas option and had assumed a new EA 189 or other diesel option wouldn’t meet emissions requirements.

        They must have charted how much labour a gas conversion would cost relative to installing proper emissions controls in a tdi; for design / stress reasons I’d assumed a gas conversion would be more workable in the long term. I suppose there are obvious barriers to this solution as I haven’t seen much discussion of conversion to e-Golf or TSI engines at all.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          In the old days, converting a Chevy Silverado with a 6.2 diesel to a gas 350 was stupid easy as the motors were essentially the same, used the same transmission and had no computers. Swapping computer controls, fuel lines most likely, exhaust would most likely be too time consuming the potential for error at install too high to be cost effective.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            Yes a whole cottage industry developed converting 5.7 Olds diesels to gassers. I can even remember newspaper adverts for the garages doing them. Ahhh the good old days.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          If I were VW, I would strip them of the engine and exhaust system, and then donate them as gliders to schools and universities, so that the students can turn them into alt-fuel creations (mostly electric I’d imagine).

          • 0 avatar
            TDIandThen....

            That school-use makes sense to me but there are half a million of these cars…they could donate one to every high school and Community College program on the continent and they’ll still have tens of thousands to recycle / dispose of.

            Unless these could be fed to trade school Coop programs which converted them as class projects and sold them – I’d be interested in a biodiesel / electric as a 2nd or station car for the price of (say) cost of parts and a donation to the school.

            Anyway thanks for the discussion y’all.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “EPA claims the full fix won’t affect the vehicles’ “fuel economy, reliability, or durability.””

    No mention of performance changes.

    Take the money and run. I don’t understand why it would take another whole year to bring the cars into compliance. They will still have hampered resale value during that time, and certainly after.

    Half a million vehicles are affected, and VW wants to dither over 15% of them. This is a dishonest company, and every move they’ve made during this scandal is just like a crook who keeps changing his plea:

    1. “We couldn’t properly translate those American laws into German.”
    2. “3.0 V6 applications are fine.”
    3. “We’ll have a fix by February 2016.”
    3a. “We’ll have a fix by June 2016.”
    3b. “We’ll have a fix by September 2016.”
    3c. “We’ll have a two-part fix, and the second part works great.”
    4. To German owners: “American customers are special, so you don’t get the same settlement.”
    5. “We’re going green (really this time), so look for 25 different VW EVs by 2025.”
    6. “Herr Winterkorn knew nothing about this at any time. Our own internal investigation says so.”
    7. “This conspiracy was limited to a few underlings.”
    8. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities.”

    And so on. I don’t trust *anything* coming from this company.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it takes a while to tool up a supplier and validate parts. same reason TRW and AutoLiv couldn’t just jump right in an make replacements for Takata airbag inflators.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      “No mention of performance changes.”

      I was just going to post the same. Seems like a telling omission.

    • 0 avatar
      desertsoldier22

      They will just do a software fix and the car will use more Diesel Exhaust fluid. Its not that complicated. The problem is the EPA takes 2-3 years to recertify vehicles. The delay is not mechanical its regulatory. This caused the problem in the first place, regulators working faster than technology. I’m certain that if every light duty diesel engine from every manufacturer was tested with the same scrutiny Volkswagen has received they would fail too. Every manufacturer has posted software fixes on thier diesels since the scandal, since they were not caught they dont need to re-certify. GM execs were the whistle blowers who got VW in trouble because they were number one for a couple of months.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “EPA claims the full fix won’t affect the vehicles’ “fuel economy, reliability, or durability.”

    Thanks, I needed a late-afternoon laugh.

    Know what? My Jetta with the 1.4T and a manual averages about 32 mpg in plodding-around-the-‘burbs driving. If I mix in about 40-50% of that driving on the freeway, that goes to about 34-35 mpg. If the overwhelming majority of my driving was on the freeway, I’d be getting close to 40.

    So what, precisely, is the point of the diesel? Take the buyout and get a gas Jetta or Golf. You’ll get a helluva deal on either one (Jetta in particular).

    What’s the percentage in keeping the TDI on the “we’ll fix it” promise given higher diesel prices? I don’t see it.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      For me, lifetime economy over 58405 miles is 35.3 MPG according to fuelly (2012 Sportwagen TDI with DSG). They’ve made some real progress on gas engine economy in the last 4-5 years.

      There really is no reason for diesel any longer unless you’re hauling very heavy things. VW will sell all of their stop saled 2015 TDIs to diesel enthusiasts, but there’s no reason to bring any more over.

      • 0 avatar
        desertsoldier22

        HCCI systems will boost diesel engines a further 25% in fuel econmoy and 30% in power in the next five years. Diesel also can run any oil based fuel, produces more low end torque and produces quite a bit more economy during highway driving. I have personally seen 60mpg+ on a VW TDI Golf. Dont discount diesels yet. Also dont let uninformed media types discourage it…they are no engineers or technicians. I laugh everytime I hear about this scandal.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          ” produces more low end torque”

          I like how people keep saying this nonsense, without realizing every 2.0T gas engine on the market outputs more torque than the VW 2.0 TDI.

          • 0 avatar
            ram3

            please look at the specs on both vw engines gas and diesel

            the 2 liter gas produces 207 ft pounds of torque 3600-5000 rpm
            114 HP

            the 2 liter diesel produces 280 ft pounds of torque 1700 -2500 rpm
            148 HP

            Diesel engines will always produce more torque at normal rpm

            liter to liter a gas engine will never produce the same or even close the torque of a diesel

            take a look a heavy equipment or large yachts they all have Diesel engines because of the heavy loads . there is no gas engines that can compete under those conditions.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I would follow this advice from Steve Miller.

    Whoa..oooo take the money and run.

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