Emissions "fix" ruined our cars, say VW drivers in Ireland
Volkswagen owners in Ireland claim that the company's "fix" to deal with the emissions scandal has caused their cars to malfunction and lose fuel efficiency.
A group of 16 drivers have contacted a lawyer to take legal action against Volkswagen citing a range of issues including increased fuel consumption, emissions warnings on the dashboard and reduction in power. Some of the group have also said that they had been offered a lower trade in value from dealers since getting their cars updated.
A lawyer representing the drivers said that some Volkswagen dealers refused to address the post-fix concerns unless owners paid an additional charge and would not accept that the software update had caused the problem. Others have reported a fall in trade-in value of up to 1,500 euros after having the car updated by Volkswagen.
Many of the drivers said that when they had the problems examined by a mechanic they were told that the exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) valve would need to be replaced at a cost of up to 1,600 euros. The EGR is used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from the engine.
To cheat US emissions tests, Volkswagen fitted "defeat devices" to more than 11 million VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat diesel cars built between 2007 and 2015. They ensured that the cars passed tests in laboratory conditions although the emitted a much higher level of nitrogen oxide on the road. As part of the recall the cars are being tweaked so that they produce less harmful emissions.
Shane O'Donoghue, an automotive engineer and editor of CompleteCar.ie, said that it was inevitable that Volkswagen's efforts to correct the issue would result in poorer performance and problems with components parts of the engine. "Volkswagen claimed that they would be able to deal with the problem without affecting the performance in any way but unfortunately that's just not possible" Mr O'Donoghue said. "Physically when an engine is tweaked it changes the balance so you have issues on other parts. I'm not surprised that this is being claimed from an engineering point of view."
Mr O'Donoghue said that the issues may be more pronounced or more likely to occur in cars that have not been as regularly serviced as others. He said that dealers were also likely to value the cars at less if they had been brought in to Volkswagen. "There will be some models that dealers won't care too much about because they'll sell them on quickly".
The post-fix issues have also been reported in the UK and other jurisdictions. They will intensify calls for the company to compensate European owners as it has done in the US. It will also add to the waive of civil legal actions across Europe that the company has been fighting off for more than a year.
The 16 drivers who claimed to have experienced problems after accepting the software upgrade contacted Evan O'Dwyer, a solicitor from Co Mayo who also represents 400 clients with affected vehicles that have not had the fix. Mr O'Dwyer said that some of those who accepted the voluntary recall were now being forced to pay out to the same dealerships for new EGR valves.
"This is about joining the dots. People are experiencing the same problems after they bring their cars into Volkswagen but it's not until they see it has happened to someone else that they join the dots between the "fix" and the problem," Mr O'Dwyer said. He added that two Volkswagen dealers offered to change the EGR valve on clients' cars for a reduced fee after complaints. One client was quoted 6,500 euros by a Volkswagen dealer as a trade-in for a VW Passat V6 TDI before the software upgrade but only 4,000 euros after.
Harcus Sinclair, the UK law firm that is leading a class action against Volkswagen with about 37,000 owners signing up so far, said that a large number of drivers in Britain had also complained of cars being damaged. Damon Parker, head of the firm's litigation department, said that it had received "hundreds of complaints about the so-called fix"."Some drivers have complained of their cars 'going limp', which is basically when their cars experience a dramatic drop in speed," he said."As a result we are surveying all 37,000 of our claimants to find out if they are experiencing problems".
Paul Willis, managing director of Volkwagen in Britain, has written to the UK's transport committee and promised to investigate the claims. He said that he was confident that the incidents were "an exception".
Volkswagen Group Ireland denied that the fix had any negative effect on fuel efficiency, engine performance, EGR valves or trade-in value. A spokesman said that the changes to the software were approved by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority which said that there would be no deterioration to fuel consumption, C02 emissions, engine output, torque or noise. He added that the German car giant would not engage with any calls for compensation for European customers."All of our customers are equally important to us but in our efforts to making things right for them we cannot ignore differences in the legal systems or in technical measures. We are of the opinion that there is no legal foundation for customer claims outside of the US," he said.
Source: The Times