By on July 27, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

Nearly two years after the mother of all automotive scandals yanked nine years’ worth of Volkswagens out of the “law-abiding citizen” category and into the environmental slammer, U.S. regulators have approved a fix for older VW 2.0-liter diesel cars.

The fix, which many believed would never happen, received an official thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board today. The move means potential salvation for 326,000 otherwise doomed VW and Audi vehicles in the United States.

Naturally, not all owners will jump with joy after hearing the news. VW’s massive settlement gave owners the choice of a fix or a lucrative buyback of their illegally polluting vehicle, with many choosing to take the money and condemn their car to hell. Still, others might prefer a future with their high-torque, high-mileage TDI Passat, Golf, Jetta and Beetle. The few owners of Audi A3 TDIs might wants this as well.

The crop of first-generation 2.0-liter cars, which makes up the bulk of the half-million vehicles sidelined in the U.S., span model years 2009 to 2014. An earlier two-phase fix already applies to newer models with Gen-2 engines. (Unsold 2015 TDIs went on sale in April.)

“With the approval, VW will offer owners of these vehicles the choice to keep and fix their car, or to have it bought back,” said the EPA in a release. “To obtain this approval, VW submitted test data and technical information that demonstrates that the modification will reduce emissions without negatively affecting vehicle reliability or durability. VW will thoroughly identify any differences in vehicle attributes (such as fuel economy) so owners may make an informed choice.”

After “fixed” European models caused a wave of complaints, U.S. owners will want to know if there’s a chance their beloved diesel could become a shuddering, gutless dog.

Regardless, the EPA’s green light means the automaker can begin notifying owners of their newfound option right away. Once the replies roll in, the cars can go under the knife.

“The approved modification involves both software and hardware changes,” the EPA stated. “VW will remove the defeat device software that reduced emission control effectiveness in all but emissions testing circumstances, and replace it with software that directs the emission controls to function effectively in all typical vehicle operations. VW will also replace the NOx catalyst and, for 2009 models, certain other emission control system hardware.”

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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18 Comments on “Older Volkswagen Diesels Potentially Saved From Execution After EPA Approves Fix...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    are they actually going to bung in an SCR system? Or bigger/higher capacity NOx adsorber, then EGR the hell out of the thing?

    is there a source article for this?

    “Still, others might prefer a future with their high-torque,”

    236 lb-ft out of a 2.o turbo is not “high torque.”

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m sure many will still go to the crusher. At this point the hold outs on turning them in are probably split between the “the price I get for it is fixed so might as well use the *free* car as long as I can” and those that were holding out for a fix. So of those that are waiting for the fix how many are still in when they learn how much the MPG and TQ will drop.

    Of the ones that VW has already bought back or still to be bought back many are likely not worth the expense to bring into compliance due to condition/miles. What will a “fixed” car be worth in the market place if it does loose MPG and driveablity. Don’t want to spend $1500 to fix a car that would wholesale for $1800 when you could have sold it for scrap and got $300.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Agreed. Most of the Gen1 owners I know either jumped on the “fixed” 2015s/Gen3 models when they went on sale or were planning on keeping their cars until the last possible buyback date. I’d be surprised if more than 1/3rd of the Gen1 models were actually in a fit state to be sold back into the markets.

      It makes you wonder what the recon is going to look like. Software update + new NOx adsorber, hopefully a more robust one. But what about the DPF that tends to be fully clogged by 100k miles, or the EGR that faces a carbon buildup issue that will kill it at a similar lifespan? Are they going to replace those, too? I doubt it. Anyone want to buy a ticking timebomb?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        But VW tests have shown that the fix won’t hamper reliability or durability, while actually using the emissions control devices in normal driving.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m still selling mine back in late 2018. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive a car for 6 years, put 80K miles on it and not have to worry what it looks like when I turn it in. Plus I’ll be paid close to $22K in about a year when turn-in time finally comes.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I wonder if there is any connection between this fix approval and the criminal court testimony of VW managers? “You cooperate and give us some names of the top people involved, and we go easy on you at sentencing and we will put in a good word with the EPA about approving that lame fix on the older Golfs.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “others might prefer a future with their high-torque, high-mileage TDI”

    Maybe it won’t really have such high torque or mileage after the fix.

    I never thought they’d have a fix at all, but I suspect most owners will take the money anyway. What’s the resale going to be on a fixed TDI, when the diesel fan club is shrinking every day?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I didn’t either. I thought the Gen 1 cars were going to be unsalvageable. I know CARB/EPA said they’d consider approving a “less than complete” fix if it was in the ballpark (chabuduo) but I didn’t think a car w/o SCR would even get close. Be interesting to find out the details of the remedy. As above I’d guess it’s an up-sized NOx trap and a lot more EGR flow. the latter would cause the fuel economy hit not least because of more frequent regeneration of the DPF.

  • avatar
    loopy55

    We won’t know until someone like C&D does an exhaustive before and after the emissions fix. They did that with a 2015 TDI ( which was only a software update) and found no difference in performance and economy.

    The complaints in Europe are mainly from people who are really annoyed that they missed out on the generous settlements handed out to US TDI owners and are trying to manufacture a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      I read that recent article. It showed very little difference in NOx production before and after the fix. A little better on the highway, a little worse in the city, or vice versa, but the average of the two categories was about the same.

      Since I live (and suffer) in the worst ozone area of my state, with 100 alert days per year, I’ve decide to wash my hands of the whole diesel mess. This comes after 10 years of TDI ownership, BTW. It was fun while it lasted, but that day is done.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “The complaints in Europe are mainly from people who are really annoyed that they missed out on the generous settlements handed out to US TDI owners and are trying to manufacture a problem.”

      they’ve no one to blame but themselves, with their looser regulations and test procedures with loopholes so big you could drive a fire truck through them.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        No one to blame but themselves? Looser regulations and test procedures with loopholes are a result of ineptitude. VW getting caught cheating is ineptitude AND willful violation of the law. VW gets blamed first, then we can spread the leftover blame onto regulators. I do have to wonder if enforcement of the laws in Europe was intentionally made inept by auto industry lobbyists.

  • avatar
    Rengaw

    Can VW haul these condemned cars to other parts of the world where diesel emission standards are more lax and sell them off?

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    What if this is the chicken tax in reverse?

    Fix all those cars at the silver dome for example, which would technically get them around the export restriction then once in South America or wherever, remove the parts and ship them back for the next batch of cars to be shipped out of the us?

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Well *something* must have happened because local VW dealerships here seem to have had a run on 2015 TDIs again. Whether because of the new fix or a new batch just came up. Also 2015 Passat gas model seems to have appeared at the same time, so who knows?

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