The news that Volkswagen had deliberately circumvented U.S. EPA emissions laws on its so-called “clean diesel” models from 2009 to 2015 hit the automotive world like a bombshell. The company also took all remaining new 2.0-liter TDI diesel models off sale in the U.S.–and told its dealers to stop selling those models as used cars as well.
What VW vehicles are affected by the recall?
The cars covered by the expected recall were sold by Volkswagen and Audi between 2009 and 2015, and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine. That earned them the designation “TDI” following the model name.
The highest-volume model is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, but VW also offered TDI versions of the Passat, Golf, Jetta SportWagen and the Beetle. The recall will also apply to the Audi A3 TDI, in two generations: both the one sold from 2009 through 2013, and the new version introduced for 2015.
But across those models there are actually two engines in three versions. The most common is the 140-hp “EA188” 2.0-liter turbodiesel four introduced for 2009. That same engine in the Passat TDI was fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), also known as urea after-treatment, starting in 2012.
Finally, a new generation of 2.0-liter diesel engine, known as EA288, is fitted to various VW vehicles (the Golf TDI, for instance) starting with the 2015 model year.
Note that Volkswagen and Audi vehicles equipped with larger TDI diesel engines are not affected.
Those include the Audi Q5 and Q7, and the Volkswagen Touareg.
What should owners of 2009-2015 Audi and Volkswagen TDI diesels with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines do?
In the short term, nothing.
“Volkswagen is committed to fixing this issue as soon as possible. We want to assure customers and owners of these models that their automobiles are safe to drive, and we are working to develop a remedy that meets emissions standards and satisfies our loyal and valued customers.”
Owners of these vehicles do not need to take any action at this time.
This means that the vehicles in question will all be recalled so VW can attempt to modify them in a way that would make them legal.
Until a remedy is devised, tested, approved by the EPA and CARB and distributed to dealers, owners should simply keep driving their cars.
What are the risks to VW owners?
The owners of 2009-2015 Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter TDI models face some potentially significant longer-term challenges.
First, the value of their vehicles as used cars may well fall.
They paid more for their cars: Premiums over comparable gasoline models range from $1,000 on Golfs with mid-and high-level trims to $6,855 on top-level Passat models. While used diesels historically were worth more on the used-car market, that may not prove to be the case going forward.
Second, if VW is able to develop a fix and get it approved, the performance and fuel efficiency of their cars might fall. That’s more likely if the fix is only a software update, which would be far cheaper for Volkswagen.
If VW ends up having to make software changes and retrofit an entire SCR system to the cars (other than the Passat TDI)–something that would likely cost it thousands of dollars per car–performance would likely be unchanged, but interior volume might be reduced to accommodate a liquid-urea tank and associated plumbing.
Third, and most worrisome for owners in California and some other states, they may not be able to re-sell or even re-register their TDI vehicles until they are fixed by Volkswagen.
That’s because the vehicles were apparently “non-compliant,” or illegal to sell in the first place as they now stand.