What the Volkswagen TDI Settlement Means for Owners


Volkswagen has agreed to pay a massive $14.7 billion fine to the U.S. government and other entities to settle allegations of cheating on emissions tests and deceiving customers about its 2.0-liter TDI engines. That’s a big number, but what does it mean for the average Volkswagen owner?

You stand to lose a lot of value on your used Volkswagen, according to extensive CarGurus research. (Settlement details have yet to be announced for the 3.0-liter diesel engines.) CarGurus’ data team analyzed a sample of the VW models impacted by the emissions scandal in order to determine what the scandal has cost owners since news of the “defeat device” first broke in September (right before a really awkward 2016 Jetta launch in New York City). The calculations were based on CarGurus’ Instant Market Value (IMV) analysis, which is run daily on millions of used-car listings.

According to this analysis, the median value lost was $1,483, which represents a drop of about 8 percent. Some vehicles have fared better, like the 2009 Jetta Sportwagen TDI, which has seen its value drop by only 1.3 percent; but then there are vehicles like the 2012 Jetta Sportwagen TDI, the value of which has dropped 14.94 percent.

According to a Volkswagen statement, out of about 499,000 2.0-liter TDI vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States, approximately 460,000 Volkswagens and 15,000 Audis are currently in use and eligible for buybacks/lease terminations or emissions modifications (if approved by regulators).

This means owners can choose to sell their vehicle back to Volkswagen or terminate their lease without penalty; if a modification is approved, owners can also choose to keep their vehicle and have it fixed free of charge. Customers who select any of these options will also receive a cash payment from Volkswagen.

According to ABC News, if you owned the car on or before Sept. 18, VW will pay you $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of the car and if you owned it on or before that date. Buybacks will begin this fall if the settlement is approved, and owners will have until Sept. 1, 2018, to decide.

More information about the proposed 2.0-liter TDI settlement program, including the settlement agreements in full, can be found at www.VWCourtSettlement.com.

This could be good news if you want to get rid of your diesel Volkswagen or Audi. The German automaker will compensate you for the vehicle’s worth based on its Clean Trade-In Value as published in the September 2015 edition of the NADA Used Car Guide, with adjustments for factory options and mileage.

Does this mean you should automatically sell back your TDI? That depends. Do you like the car? Plan to run it into the ground? After all, these are diesels. If the engine is in good shape (and no one has claimed the engines aren’t mechanically sound), keep the car and take the cash.

But if you plan (or had been planning) to sell the vehicle anytime soon, it would be foolish not take Volkswagen’s offer. You’re never going to do as well on a trade-in as you are now, after all, because the clock on the car’s value is turned back to September 2015. Plus, you’ll get the additional cash. But keep in mind that any approved emissions modification will probably reduce the engine’s mileage and/or performance.

It’s good to finally see some kind of resolution at work here, and it actually happened relatively quickly considering all the different government entities involved. It’s still unfortunate that VW owners had to wait so long, but things may have worked out for them after all.

-Keith Griffin

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  1. I believe in the 80/20 rule. you know, where 80% of all reward comes from 20% of the effort? Well, I believe your blog is that 20%. I’ve added you to the list of sites that I frequent. Thank you for the in depth and detailed blog posts. Not many people are willing to do that anymore.

  2. What if I traded in my TDI? I felt so horrible driving it after I found out it cheated on the emission. Didn’t want to drive it anymore, so I traded in and got a GTI from a VW dealership. Will I be getting any money from the settlement?

  3. Couple of questions—I did not take the $1000 VW offered when this started as I didn’t know how it would effect the final settlement–will I still get that or will the payment be reduced to those that have taken that offer

    How will VW refund the extended warranties–my TDI is 2 years old and has 20K miles–the extended warranty has not kicked in yet–will I get a full refund on this?

    Is there any provision to refund the sales tax I paid–any replacement ehile I buy, I will be on the hook for sales tax again

    I understand there is a period for public comment on this settlement–how/to who do I comment

    I appreciate any help with these questions

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