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The Problems Facing VW: Volkswagen Gets Caught Falsifying Emission Test Results

» Posted May 13, 2016Resources | Share This Post

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes emissions requirements on vehicles in an effort to protect air quality and reduce pollution.  Unfortunately, instead of manufacturing its cars to comply with emissions rules, Volkswagen looked for ways to cheat the test -- and they found a way. The company programmed software in 11 million diesel-powered vehicles so the software could detect when the car was being tested.

When the software determined the car was undergoing EPA testing, it would change its performance to make the emissions results seem lower.  This allowed VW's “clean diesel” cars to pass EPA testing.  When not hooked up to the test and running normally, the cars ended up producing around 40 times the permissible legal limit of nitrogen oxides. 

Volkswagen was caught cheating on the emissions test using its software and the owners of the millions of diesel-powered vehicles are now faced with problems created by the car manufacturer. Whenever problems arise because of the automaker or the car's design, a California lemon law attorney should be consulted.

Are There Any Good Options Available for VW?

Several different models of diesel-powered Volkswagen cars were affected by the company's efforts to cheat on emissions tests. The models included certain Jetta, Beetle, Golf, and Audi A3 cars sold between 2008 and 2015. Passat vehicles sold between 2014 and 2015 were also affected.

Unfortunately, all of the owners of these cars are now put into a terrible situation.  Volkswagen misled them into buying a car that was releasing noxious fumes, and now VW has to recall those vehicles and make them meet federal emissions standards. There are only a few possible ways for VW to modify the car to meet standards and all of the options available will have an adverse impact on the car's performance.

One option for VW is to recall the affected cars and recalibrate the software so it effectively runs in EPA test mode all the time. Essentially, this would involve re-flashing the engine control model to ensure the car never produced emissions beyond what is permitted.

Unfortunately, this option is problematic because it involves sacrificing either performance or fuel economy.  A drop in torque and a drop in fuel mileage would both be bad, as consumers will either find that their cars don't accelerate as fast as expected or they find themselves spending more on gas than anticipated.

Another option for Volkswagen would be to use selective catalytic reduction, but this chemical process involves adding a urea.  This could cost between $5,000 and $8,000 per car and it could force car owners to give up either the spare tire or a significant amount of their cargo space.

Car owners who are faced with these unpleasant options could try to ignore the recall; however, Wired indicates it is likely that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as state agencies, would flag the recalled VW cars to make sure they are fixed so emissions standards aren't continually violated. Even if consumers dodge the recall successfully, their resale value on their cars would likely drop.

Volkswagen has obviously put car owners in a bad situation. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear or read about dealers doing things that adversely impact consumers. If you are affected by a design flaw or other vehicle-related problems, find out about your rights from a knowledgeable lemon law attorney.


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