What The Recent Emissions Crisis Means For Your Diesel Volkswagen

You've probably heard about the scandal surrounding Volkswagen's recent line of diesel vehicles, culminating in the German automaker potentially recalling over 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide due to emissions irregularities. This also includes over 482,000 vehicles in the U.S., according to Consumer Reports.

If you happen to own a diesel-powered Volkswagen, then you're probably wondering how all of this affects you and your vehicle. The following explores the impact of the recall in detail, along with some helpful tips and advice for handling the upcoming recall.

What Happened?

In May of 2014, researchers from West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation discovered discrepancies between Volkswagen's diesel engine emissions under EPA testing and their own independent tests. The discrepancies occurred during testing with two late-model Volkswagen vehicles during a routine test.

After performing its own testing, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) also found similar discrepancies, leading the automaker to admit that it calibrated its emission control system to provide ideal emissions results during dynometer testing. Under normal driving conditions, a special "defeat device" calibrated the diesel engine's software to reduce the effectiveness of its emissions-treatment systems, allowing the engine to produce nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels up to 40 times beyond the EPA's allowable amounts.

Why Did VW Go Through the Trouble?

With each passing year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightens its federal clean-air standards for both gasoline and diesel vehicles. The EPA does this by reducing the allowable threshold for certain vehicle exhaust emissions, including NOx. These rules exist to help generate long-term improvements in the nation's overall air quality.

However, many manufacturers have found it difficult to keep up with the latest in emissions regulations, with many having to adjust engine performance and fuel economy in order to make their vehicles compliant. To remain in compliance with EPA regulations without impacting vehicle performance, the company essentially took advantage of a loophole in the testing process, albeit one that's now resulted in a recall with potential costs of up to $34 billion, according to Bloomberg Business.

How Does This Affect Your Vehicle?

The emissions recall impacts only vehicles equipped with the company's 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine and only those built between 2009 and 2015. This also includes vehicles made for the 2016 model year. If you own a 2008 model year or older diesel-powered VW, then you have nothing to worry about.

However, those who do own Volkswagens affected by the recall may have the following to consider:

  • As a part of the recall, the company will likely correct all affected vehicles with a number of fixes to help bring those vehicles back into compliance with EPA regulations. These fixes include software updates that'll recalibrate the vehicle to run under "dyno" conditions during all driving conditions, effectively returning the vehicle back to its compliant status.
  • The company may also make mechanical modifications to some of its recalled vehicles. This includes the addition of a urea injection system to help the affected vehicles meet EPA emissions targets.
  • The recall repairs may also result in an as-of-yet unspecified hit in overall fuel economy and performance in exchange for improved emissions performance. It's currently unknown as to how much of a boost that the non-compliant tune in the affected vehicles provided in terms of fuel consumption, horsepower output and torque output.

Although the upcoming recall will be entirely voluntary, California and other states with their own strict emissions standards and testing protocol may prevent affected vehicles from being registered or prevent them from passing emissions tests until those emissions fixes have been implemented. However, CARB has signaled that it won't prevent those vehicles from being registered until the recall is well underway.

For more informaiton, talk to a professional auto dealer, such as Euroclassics Limited, and inquire about the steps you may need to take to get your vehicle to comply with the necessary standards.