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VW Emissions Scandal

Hi Car Talk,
I own a 2009 VW Jetta TDI, is has 148,000. I love it! Unfortunately, its under the VW emissions scandal and I am trying to figure out if I want to “get the fix” or turn the car in. Recently, I was getting the oil changed and tire rotated. The mechanic informed me I needed new tires and shocks on the rear, the tires are cupping in the rear. The quote for the cupping and 4 new tires was about $1000. Of course everyone has an opinion about what I should be doing with the vehicle, most don’t think i should put any more $$ into it. About 4 years ago I had the timing belt changed out which was a pretty penny…but I knew it would make the vehicle last.
What is your opinion on the emissions scandal?
How do you think I should proceed with the shocks and tires?
Is there a car out there that is comparable?
Any advice is much appreciated! Thank you

Excellent question Angie. Some states that verify things like emissions each year at annual inspections (California, Massachusetts, etc) plan to make it hard for owners, and harder on VW if those dirty diesels are not off the road in the coming couple of years. VW is offering outstanding incentives. If you want a similarly-sized vehicle like the Jetta, with great low-end torque, that is quicker in every situation, and has a lower cost per mile for fuel there are many great choices. The Honda Civic is one. You can compare fuel economy ratings at www.fueleconomy.org. Your ‘09 Jetta only got 32 MPG Combined on deisel and has a current annual fuel cost of about $1,350 per year. The Civic with the 1.5-liter turbo gets 36 MPG combined and 42 MPG highway on regular unleaded and has an annual cost of $1,050. In my testing in suburban New England, it returned 40 MPG in real-world driving. The older Jeta you drive had emissions dramatically higher than the new Civic. Even the “legal” diesels did. The most modern cheaters were emitting up to 40 times the emissions of every gasoline car next to it in traffic. Having tested the modern VW diesels before they were killed off, I was always unimpressed with the performance and drivability compared to today’s modern gasoline engines in other brands’ cars. They had their day, and were cool back when cheap cars were “slow.” Those days passed even before the scandal. jetta civic

Given the big payout you’ll get from VW, I’d turn it in.

On the separate topic “What do you think of the scandal.” I’m not fervent environmentalists, but I hate cheaters and lawbreakers. An executive from VW was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role just this month. More will follow. They are actually going to jail. The Clean Air Act is what it is. Like it, hate, it ignore it in your daily life, whatever. But it is a federal law that every other automaker follows or pays a steep price for not following. Most of the folks I know, and the list is pretty long, who bought a “Clean diesel” VW have told me they felt pretty bad knowing the cars were polluting big time and they turned them in. I don’t know any off hand that did not. They all had good stories to follow. Some got new VWs. Many turned in the VW got other brands because they were angry at VW. I would be in the second camp if I owned one.

If you want to stay with VW, the Jetta with the 1.4L turbo gas engine gets just about the same mpgs as the diesel. Consumer Reports used the VW 1.4 as an example of why diesels weren’t all that necessary any more.

Thank you! This is super helpful. I guess I am more concerned about what future issues i could run into with my current Jetta, what other major parts could need replacing other than shocks, tires and the new timing belt I already replaced.

There is no way for us to know what might break. The work you describe is normal maintenance for any car. If you love, keep it, get the ‘fix’ and the money, use it for future repairs. That would be the low-cost (probably) path.

8yrs/148k miles is 18k/yr. so 4yrs ago you had 76k miles and did the timing belt? so you are about due for another one now if you use 75k or so as the cue? i dont know the maintenance schedule for the diesel motor.

If you keep it long enough, everything will break. At this age and mileage, there are no more repairs, just maintenance. If you never replaced the brake calipers, that will come soon. You may need a new radiator in a few years if it is original and all the rubber under the hood is likely hard and needs replacement. I sold a 2005 Accord a few months ago. In the year before I sold it, I replaced the rear brake calipers, both headlight bulbs, a few other bulbs, the air intake tube (rubber), and the hood struts. The air bag/seat belt interface was also acting up, and that was the biggest reason I sold it.

The way I look at it is, if the engineers at a car company are incapable of having their cars pass emission regulations without cheating, what does that tell you about the car company?

Tester

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Hey, VW diesels could pass emissions testing. No problem. In Bolivia.

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Yeah right. VW was the only one-caught.