VW’s Fix an Empty Gesture?

VW’s Fix an Empty Gesture?

Owners of the diesel cars affected by VW's emissions scandal may be unaware the non-compulsory ‘fix’ being offered by the manufacturer in Europe has little to no effect on the levels of NOx gases that their cars produce.

A documentary ‘VW Secret File’, produced and aired by DW (Deutsche Welle) revealed the software fix represents no more than a hollow and cost-effective means to appease affected owners without reducing the dangerous NOx emissions. The film explores how a retrofit of AdBlue catalytic reduction technology could cut NOx emissions by up to 90% long-term, but speculated that VW opted for the software fix as a cheaper alternative.

Elsewhere, Auto Express reported that some 17,000 UK drivers said their vehicles are worse following the fix. Issues include poorer fuel efficiency, reduced engine performance, and loss of power. Some drivers reported that their vehicles entered limp mode (a 20 km/h speed cap) without warning. Failing EGR valves – responsible for lowering NOx emissions – were also frequently mentioned.

Meanwhile, VW diesel car owners continue to vent their frustration. The Facebook group ‘The Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum (Emissions Scandal)’ with nearly 7000 members sees frequent new user posts reporting faults they believe are a result of the fix.

Members of the FB group have shared experiences of intermittent start problems, losing low-end torque (one of the selling-points for drivers of diesel-powered engines) as well as faster engine oil degradation. The latter is believed to be linked with an issue where the engine oil becomes contaminated by diesel fuel.

Some of those affected owners have claimed that when taking their vehicle into a garage for regular maintenance, the fix had been performed by mechanics without their consent. A search of the web reveals forum posts indicating that those consumers who remained undecided whether they should proceed with the fix experienced hard-sell tactics from dealership staff. They claim that official VW garages were using the manufacturer's offer of a 2 year extended warranty to pressure them to accept the procedure.

VW have said the extended warranty, under what they call their ‘Trust Building Measures’ (TBM) “…applies for a period of 24 months from when the vehicle receives the technical measure [fix] and only to vehicles with mileage of under 250,000 km at the time the Trust Building Measure is implemented (whichever comes earlier).”

Under the TBM, 11 components of the car are covered as Skoda (part of the VW group) list on their website:

"…the exhaust gas recirculation system, the fuel injection system and the emissions after treatment system: lambda probe, temperature sensor, EGR changeover valve, exhaust gas recirculation valve, exhaust gas recirculation pressure differential sensor, injector, high-pressure pump, fuel rail, pressure control valve, pressure sensor, high-pressure pipelines."

It would appear that many of the vehicle parts mentioned in the TMB are those that owners report as failing. This has led some to repeatedly send their vehicles to garages for on-going maintenance and frequent periods of being without their vehicle.

It is unclear whether VW will compensate owners for costs associated with issues connected to the fix.
VW state, within their TBM policy, that they will look into cases where qualifying owners who have incurred expenses for faults following the ‘technical measure’ (fix), will be assessed by VW.

However, VW also go on to contest the opinions of many dissatisfied owners by stating: “The regulators have confirmed that the technical measures meet all legal requirements and have no adverse impact on fuel consumption figures, CO2 emissions figures, engine output, maximum torque and noise emissions.”