By on March 27, 2017

tdiengine

Volkswagen’s U.S. diesel woes have consumed most of the oxygen in the room for the past year and a half, but Europe has its own issues with the automaker’s emissions-spewing powerplants.

While owners on the continent haven’t had to hand their vehicle over in exchange for cash, the region’s less-stringent environmental laws still require that VW offer a fix for its rigged diesel engines. Good news for air quality, but bad news — apparently — for drivers. Many owners have discovered the fix turns a perfectly fine (though illegal) vehicle into a nightmare.

According to UK’s The Guardian, complaints are pouring in over the newly compliant 1.6 and 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinders.

A total of 1.2 million VW, Skoda and Seat vehicles are currently under recall, of which half a million have seen a fix. Some just require a software upgrade, which happens to be the only available fix for certain newer-model U.S. vehicles, but a more in-depth fix for other vehicles has proved to be a problem. The U.S. hasn’t approved a full-scale fix for older affected vehicles, but it remains on the option list for VW owners facing a buyback.

2015 model year vehicles equipped with the 2.0-liter diesel will ultimately see the installation of a diesel particulate filter, diesel oxidation catalyst and NOx catalyst, in addition to the software tweaks. In Europe, however, a “flow transformer” mesh insert installed in the air intake allows the car’s computer to gain a more accurate reading of incoming oxygen.

The newspaper claims the alterations performed on 1.6-liter engines have turned vehicles into “a shadow of their former selves.” Some of the grips stem from the fact that the recall’s voluntary nature wasn’t known to some owners, or that the fix was performed during routine servicing.

One Guardian reader, James Harrison, said his 2010 Golf 1.6 “has begun to stall intermittently, and is difficult to restart.” The vehicle now goes into regeneration mode — a process where the particulate trapped by the filter is burned off at high temperatures — every day, rather than a few times a year, he claims.

“If the car is regenerating every day, what will this do to the lifespan of the EGR [exhaust gas recirculation] valve and the rest of the exhaust system, which cost thousands to fix if they go wrong?” Harrison wrote, adding that the fix has “ruined” his car.

Volkswagen admits there are some complaints about the fix, but denies that it’s a widespread issue.

Last fall, the British automotive website Honest John detailed some of the complaints that began rolling in regarding 2.0-liter Tiguans. Fixed vehicles often exhibit a decrease in low-end torque, accompanied by an annoying rattle, the publication said. One owner said a VW mechanic confirmed their 2012 Tiguan lacked power between 1,000 and 2,000 rpm. Another claimed their 2012 2.0-liter Passat wagon was a “sluggish, underpowered donkey.” Another poster’s fuel economy dropped by up to 10 percent.

One Honest John poster, claiming to be a former VW mechanic, advised readers to have a specialist reverse their vehicle’s engine fix.

All of this seems like another headache in waiting for Volkswagen of America. While Volkswagen claims the approved fix for newer 2.0-liter engines will “not affect vehicle fuel economy, reliability, or durability,” Europe’s woes should make the automaker wary of repairing older models. So far, the buyback has proved very popular in the States. If the EPA fails to approve an older engine fix, it might not be a loss to either VW or owners.

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35 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Diesel Fix has European Customers Wishing They Hadn’t Bothered...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    There was a lot of grumbling from engine folks at other companies about “how did they do it”. Well, when VW has to do diesel legally, it’s more expensive and less functional, just like everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      For how many years did every single automotive review of a efficienty-oriented car, end with a paragraph telling the reader to ‘just get a Jetta diesel’ or something like that? No other automaker could create a diesel or hybrid that could match VWs blend of efficiency and performance. A sad angle to the whole story that doesn’t get much attention is the consideration of the cars that weren’t sold or weren’t even available because of the presence of VW’s offerings. Maybe the Cruze Diesel really is the best compact diesel available when you make VW play by the rules. You can imagine that perpetually-delayed Mazda diesel may have never made it to the US because their engineers couldn’t match the VW’s performance while complying with emissions rules.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @legacygt
        Different Regulations in Europe versus the US. US Diesels are not Euro compliant. Mazda appears to not have a Diesel here or in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          The VW apologist strikes again.

          Well, not so much an apology, more like denial, followed by deflection.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Troll, burbles nonsense

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “US Diesels are not Euro compliant…”

            That’s such a goofball statement, I don’t know where to begin..

            First, vs US emissions, Euro diesels are allowed much higher NOx emissions, despite more stringent CO standards.

            Remember, as a trade barrier, EU standards (which only came about after US regulations) “zig” everywhere US standards “zag”

            But are we talking “real world” European emissions *tests* that don’t reflect “everyday usage” of vehicles?

            As you know, EU manufacturers are allowed to “lighten” the vehicle by removing the back seats, improve aerodynamics by taping over grilles and door handles or reduce the load on the generator by switching off the headlights, the passenger compartment fan or simply DISCONNECTING the alternator?????????????????

            It’s no wonder VW pulled such a Royal Scam without a 2nd thought.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Same Troll different name

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            “As you know, EU manufacturers are allowed to “lighten” the vehicle by removing the back seats, improve aerodynamics by taping over grilles and door handles or reduce the load on the generator by switching off the headlights, the passenger compartment fan or simply DISCONNECTING the alternator?????????????????”

            They probably learned all those dirty little tricks watching Ford drop their bumpers and spare tires, strip their doors, and pull the rear seats to pad their payload and tow ratings.

        • 0 avatar
          Marcin Laszuk

          You’re wrong, Robert. Mazda does have a 2.2 and a 1.5 diesel in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’ve heard that this is why Mazda’s long-awaited diesels haven’t arrived yet. No one could figure out how VW was able to do it. Easy, they cheated!

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “Volkswagen claims the approved fix for newer 2.0-liter engines will “not affect vehicle fuel economy, reliability, or durability,””

    It takes some chutzpah to lie with a straight face like that. If any of those things were true, VW wouldn’t have cheated in the first place.

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    Pretty much what many of us figured, that a fix would compromise drivability or fuel consumption — or both. Also, what will be the longevity of the emissions components now that they’re actually being used all of the time?

    I really liked my TDI, but news like this makes me glad I took the buy-back.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Not at all surprising. If I had bought a newer TDI (who are we kidding, I’d probably buy a Northstar Caddy before I did that) I would absolutely not apply the “fix.”

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      As we learned last week, there are thousands of these cars piling up in storage lots around the US. I wonder how much security they have? Would VW even notice (or care) if one just disappeared?

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        I assume they are going to sell the unfixable ones in bulk to local recycler at $x per vehicle and that they have track of all the VINs. So if they show up a vehicle short they will get a few hundred $ less. Chances are some small % of vehicles will fall thru the cracks of a program this big and they are not going to go nuts unless it’s a significant # indicating some systematic problem. They are storing these cars on open lots and maybe a few will get stolen. Like any other stolen car, you could chop it or ship it intact in a container to some 3rd worldish place or maybe you could try to swap the VIN and register it as salvage of the VIN of a previously wrecked vehicle. Hardly worth the risk for a car that isn’t worth that much to begin with.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I managed to not get the 23o6 fix applied even though my car had to go to the dealer a couple times after it was released for warranty work. From what I’ve read, objecting to that “fix” is a good idea overall. My car will have a stock 2012 tune when I turn it in late 2018. The European “fix” sounds very terrible.

      Also – Interesting drone footage of the Silverdome TDIs

      youtube.com/watch?v=J05b95lpaUk

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Its too bad for affected owners. It is annoying that service techs at dealerships would just take it upon themselves to perform the reflash/recall.

    I had a 2006 Mazdaspeed6. About 6 months into my purchase, I stupidly allowed them to perform reflash as part of a recall. To find out later that the reflash would alter performance because it was intended to allow the Speed6 to run on 91 octane as 93 was not widely available in some parts of the country. Since it was originally designed for 93, I had always maintained that the car was never quite itself again. The seat of your pants meter was not enough to warrant service/repair.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Steph Willems
    ” the region’s less-stringent environmental laws still require that VW offer a fix for its rigged diesel engines. Good news for air quality, but bad news”
    No different , not less stringent. Current US Diesels cannot pass Euro6 regulations.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    At this point is is wrong to punish the drivers that bought a vehicle expecting a certain level of performance and then retroactively taking it away. Leave the euro cars alone. Perhaps a mandated life (maybe) but it makes sense to let the cars stay. The buyers didn’t do anything wrong.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “Only Nixon could go to China.”

    “Only Volkswagen could ruin the European affinity for diesel cars.”

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @jalop1991
      No, the European affinity for diesels is not slowing down. In some cases it has sped up. What they are doing is banning Gas and Diesels vehicles on some days in some European cities

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        If by “affinity” you mean diesels are forced by taxing engines by displacement/size, a very highly tax fuel, and subsidized diesel fuel, then yes.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          Troll time…same Troll

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @RobertRyan – Where’s it “sped up”?

            forbes.com/sites/neilwinton/2016/09/15/diesel-sales-stumble-in-europe-undermined-by-vw-scandal-health-worries/#7f16e0137ee0

            “France has been a leader in promoting diesel power, but now it is attempting to trigger a reverse. The government has raised the tax on diesel fuel and removed incentives for diesel car purchases.”

            “Paris and other French cities plan to BAN DIESEL VEHICLES built before 2011 by the end of the decade. France’s Renault expects tighter regulation to force diesels out of small cars because of their expense.”

            I assume the BAN includes all VW TDIs *ever made* and others with bogus/fraud “emissions”. Obviously it should, or will eventually.

      • 0 avatar
        Marcin Laszuk

        You are wrong once again, Robert. The affinity for diesels IS slowing down. With the appearance of small, direct-injected gas engines – as shitty as they are – a lot more people are considering a gasser when they would surely have picked the diesel as recently as 5 years ago.
        No, it is NOT speeding up. For luxury cars and SUVS, diesel take rate is about 95% and has no room to go but down. For pickups – as rare as they are – it’s approx 99.5% (basically everything but privately imported Rams is diesel). Midsizers: it’s going down; compacts: going WAY down. As for the subcompacts, consider this: about 5 years ago, almost every subcompact had a diesel option. Now, the Mazda 2 offers one only on select markets. Nissan has given up offering one in the Micra. Renault’s Twingo doesn’t have one. Neither does VW’s Up and its Skoda and Seat equivalents. Same for the Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo. Bigger subcompacts usually do offer diesels but the take rate is mediocre.
        So no, I have to call bullshit on the rising affinity for diesels. I live in Europe and see it all firsthand, mind you.

  • avatar
    Rday

    WIth so many hybrids out there, seems to me that diesel engines in cars will go the way of the dinosaurs. Hybrids offer better performance and economy than diesels with less hassle/problems, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Rday
      Far from that simple, that is why you are not seeing a major stampeded to Hybrids in Europe or elsewhere .
      You are seeing more petrol/ hybrids and some EV’s ,in the overall scheme of things , they make up a small percentage of sales

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Better performance? In what dream world? Yours and Al Gore’s?

      Cruze diesel 0-60 is about 8 to 8.5 seconds depending on who did the testing.

      Prius? 10.7

      How is that better performance? And PLEASE come back with “but the prius gets XX MPG!”.

      Or are you going to cite the Acura NSX v. Chevette Diesel to prove your point? Comparable car to comparable car, diesel will give far better acceleration.

      If you mean efficiency by the word “performance”, then why separately mention fuel economy?

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Troll time

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @RobertRyan – Did we get into the “health/death” aspect of Europe’s diesel affinity? Here’s page 2 of the article. Many others like it. Let me know. In the mean time, try to pull your head out (of your mom’s basement).

          forbes.com/sites/neilwinton/2016/09/15/diesel-sales-stumble-in-europe-undermined-by-vw-scandal-health-worries/2/#a3e297460609

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Old fashioned reckon. Don’t pay much kin to your fancy degrees and all that engineerin’ stuff. But why would they risk billions of dollars and their reputation if it was easy to make a diesel without cheating? Don’t make no plum sense.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    I intended to buy one of these TDIs several times, but my trusted mechanic, a VW/audi enthusiast, always cautioned me away. Not like the older TDIs, he said. The engines were fine, but the emissions systems were so elaborate that they would give me trouble down the road. I wish I had bought one anyway and enjoyed VW’s generous buyback offers. But I wonder how long with these components last when they’re pressed into service much more often?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Widely predicted outcome.

    Now these poor owners are going to see a big drop in the resale value of their cars.


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