If this is the situation in Europe, US owners are probably better off without a fix for older diesel models.
By now, you’re probably fully aware of the repercussions from the notorious Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal. After pleading guilty to using emissions cheating devices, VW is facing substantial fines, criminal investigations and compensation claims from buying back nearly 500,000 affected vehicles. In Europe, however, things are slightly different. Less strict environmental laws mean that owners can’t claim compensation, but VW is still obligated to offer a fix for affected diesel engines.
However, The Guardian reports that these recalls are going horribly wrong. According to the newspaper, 1.2 million VWs, Audis, Skodas and Seats are being recalled in the UK. Around 500,000 vehicles have been returned so far, with some requiring a simple software update, while models with a 1.6-liter diesel require extensive work. In the US, a software update is the only available fix for newer models, and a full-scale fix for older vehicles has yet to be offered, though it is an option for VW owners claiming a buyback. However, UK owners who have received a fix for affected 1.6-liter diesel models are complaining that their cars have been practically ruined by the repairs.
An owner of a 2010 Golf 1.6 diesel, for example, claims their car is now undrivable after the repairs. “The car has begun to stall intermittently, and is difficult to restart,” he said. Apparently, the car used to go into regeneration mode, where soot collected in a filter is burnt off at a high temperature, a few times a year, but now it happens during every journey. “As far as I can see they have ruined a perfectly working car,” he added. “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?”
Volkswagen has responded saying that only a small number of cars have been affected with these issues from the fix, but consumer complaints are mounting rapidly online. Legally, the recall isn’t compulsory, so you can’t blame people for being reluctant to have work done on their car if it ends up ruining it. The buyback scheme has been popular in the US so far, and while VW has insisted that fixes for affected 2.0-liter diesel models will “not affect vehicle fuel economy, reliability, or durability” and plans to offer a fix for older models has yet to be approved, it probably isn’t worth risking a similar situation in Europe.