Dirty Laundry

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Remember that old Eagle’s tune about the bubble headed bleached blonde who comes on at five? She can tell you about the plane crash, with a gleam in her eye.Volkswagen ceases sales of four-cylinder diesel cars in the US

The song neatly describes the vacuous but vicious nonetheless media feeding frenzy over the VW  diesel “cheating” scandal.

What could be better than raking a car company over the coals for having tried to give its customers a better car as opposed to a government-compliant one?

Now the same finger-wagging is being directed at other car companies – among them Mercedes-Benz, Mazda and Honda. The accusation isn’t “cheating” per se, but it amounts to the same thing.

According to the Guardian – a British paper/web site – diesel-powered models sold by these manufacturers emit more than they’re supposed to (see here).Or rather, they emit more when driven in – muffled cough, now – “realistic” conditions.

This is interesting because it ties into the VW debacle.

Here’s how:

Yes, VW “cheated” in the sense that it programmed its diesel cars to emit within government standards (extremely, almost impossibly strict) while hooked up to a diagnostic machine – the machines they hook your car up to when you take it in for an emissions test. When unhooked – and on the road – the software re-adjusted to make the engine perform better and deliver better fuel economy, too.VW testing 2

This latter (italicized) is the key point.

By delivering better fuel economy, the vehicles at issue used less fuel. Let that sink in for a minute.

They used less fuel than they otherwise would have (if adjusted to meet the government’s insanely strict standards).

What does this mean?

It means the total volume of exhaust produced when “not in compliance” was less by dint of the fact that less fuel was being consumed. Put another way, in realistic conditions – as opposed to being hooked up to a government emissions testing machine – the VWs being crucified in the media may actually have emitted fewer of the emissions at issue.

The truth, though, is that no one really knows. The tests measure output under given arbitrary conditions. Car stationary (usually not in gear) hooked up to a machine. Under other conditions, the cars may emit less … or more.

Now back to the latest targets of the jihad.VW testing 3

What does “realistic” mean? How is it defined? Are the vehicles tested with their throttles wide open? Pedal to the metal?

If so, then – yes – their emissions will be higher than they would be with the engine idling or under light load at say 3,000 RPM.

The Guardian article does not explain this. Just as no major media outlets (forget major media reporters, who are mostly trained in the art of reading press releases, not interested in actually digging into a story) take the time to explain to their audiences that while the VWs in the crosshairs did emit more than allowed when not being tested, they did not emit very much regardless.

Because no new cars – diesel or gas – emit much of anything that’s noxious. Upwards of 95 percent of the exhaust stream has been scrubbed and rendered inert. It is mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide. All the hubbub about emissions is about the remaining less-than-five-percent that’s not quite pristine.

So, when you hear (and note the advertising weasel words) “up to 40 times” the allowable maximum, it’s “up to” a number that’s probably not even a whole number. If the amount in question is in fact even “up to” 40 times the allowable maximum. It may be as little as two times.VW head bowed

They leave a lot of wiggle room – but give no quarter to VW.

And soon, to the others.

Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down… 

Here’s some straight dope. If I drive a Prius hybrid with the accelerator pedal almost constantly floored – just to be vexatious, as I’m sometimes inclined to be – the engine computer will … cheat.

The air-fuel ratio and other parameters will – typically – be adjusted for maximum power for as long as I hold the pedal down. And – can you see it coming? – during this time of wanton acceleration, the car’s exhaust emissions will be higher than they would be with the vehicle idling – a probe in its exhaust pipe.

That is to say, they will exceed the limits allowable at idle/under light load… as when hooked up to the diagnostic machine. But that form of “cheating” is ok.

Well, has been. bimbo

Additionally,because you are burning up as much fuel as the thing can consume with the throttle wide-open, the total volume of the exhaust being produced by our abused Prius will be greater.

Which means more of the bad stuff coming out.

In short, the government’s testing protocols do not necessarily tell us whether a given vehicle is truly “dirty” … just whether it passed or failed the test. And you can forget the media ever explaining what “dirty” actually means, in “realistic” conditions or otherwise. The whole thing’s a flim flam.

Cue the music…

I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear… .

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  1. I’ve mentioned before that my TDI throws an nearly constant Check Engine code for EGR – Insufficient Flow. I’m afraid that, if I take it in to be made ‘compliant,’ they will not release it until they ‘fix’ that as well – which they have told me they do not know how to do. But for $800 they can take it apart and have a look.
    Or will VW be on the hook for that as well?

  2. I read a very interesting article that detailed the “horrible” fact that you can buy a programmer online that allows an owner to change the programming on their own car. I’ve owned a diesel truck for over 15 years. I purchased a programmer the first year that I owned it. I would “enhance” the power and performance of the vehicle to get more power and better fuel economy. The device stored the original programming, so that when I took the truck in for service, there was NO record of the changes. Without the upgraded programming, the truck was sluggish and lacked the power I needed.

    The VW “scandal” is really nothing more than the onboard computer being allowed to alter its programming to meet the demands of the driving “style” of the operator. This is really just a non-story.

  3. Eric hope you don’t think by giving them pure fact they will admit they are wrong. this is industrial sabatoge to save the junk GM cars which are part of the govt now might as well have a cabinet position. we are to believe not one American diesel is at fault. also I think it is part of the 100 year war the jewish Bolsheviks declared on Germany. you know have Germany getting blasted by a double barrel of migrants and car debacle. the Germans were the Romans of the 20 th century and were destroyed with the 2 wars blackmailed by Israel for 100’s of billions now this. they are still there but do not know for how long

  4. That ‘article’ in the Guardian reads more like an ‘editorial’.

    One of many gems:
    “…NOx pollution is at illegal levels in many parts of the UK and is believed to have caused many thousands of premature deaths and billions of pounds in health costs…”

    And then them move right on… nothing to qualify of substantiate the statement.

    Then, I read the comments, and I swear about 95% of them are clover re-incarnate. Makes me want to pick up my computer monitor and smash it on the desk… of course that might be a CLM in the office… so… I guess… uhm… “serenity now!”

    Well, to quote one of my favorite economic commentators: “We’re Freaking Doomed!”

    • > And then them move right on… nothing to qualify of substantiate the statement.

      That’s because much of today’s journalistic content consists of barely-related factoids returned to the author via web search.

      Turn them into paragraphs, check the word count, and done!

      No fact-checking, no grammar checking other than what the word processor provides, and no desire to inform and educate the reader.

  5. The Guardian article got me thinking(not always a pleasant endeavor). It seems these companies, like VW, have vehicles that passed the Government Test for emissions. If they don’t pass the test they don’t get to sell the vehicle. However, in real world driving they pollute more than the test results.

    How is this any different than what we’ve seen over the last 30 years in Government Education, which is virtually ALL forms of “education”. You must pass the test, test scores being the end-all and be-all, or you don’t get to move on. Whether its End Of Grade tests(final exams) or SAT/ACT tests students are programmed to Pass The Test.

    What happens next is that these folks enter the real world where millions of random influences determine what a correct answer will be…not some predetermined outcome that is merely regurgitated on to a testing answer sheet. As a result we see the gradual erosion of a society that is not taught to think independently and thus come to logical conclusions but, a mass of people who can only spit out The Right Answer when Pavlov rings the bell. The more “education” on has seems to worsen the problem. With companies demanding more “formal education” for new hires the problem will only become worse. All these folks taught all the same answers will be faced with a fluid world where those answers don’t work. Then what do they do?


      • This is something we can all work on.

        Not everything has an “answer” or anything to do with us at all.

        These people made me smile. I don’t know what planet this is, or even what galaxy, but they seem healthy and happy, so I wish them well

        Learning the Tao of MYOB means stop comparing and evaluating everyone and everything to some preconceived forest of false yardsticks you’ve been forced to measure the world with since preschool day one.

        Maybe in this world, nobody has a name, rank or serial number.

        They identify each other by costumes. And form a social hierarchy based on dancing abilities.

        Can’t be much worse than the world we’re all forced to believe we live in, IMHO.

        If you can do this long enough, you’ll find your brain is plastic and capable of healing the damage your mis-education has done to you.

  6. somebody must be sacrificed on the altar of CO2 scum and insanity of our lunacy leaders who have just one quality: imbecile ignorant !

  7. The USG’s idiocy in this respect, rivals that of hardline Marxist apparatchicks during the heyday of Soviet and Chinese Communism.

    Back then it was known on the Chinese mainland as “first red, then expert”, meaning as long as you were a devout Communist, you prevailed over experts in whatever issue was in dispute.

    Needless to say, this led to disastrous consequences for Russian and Chinese economies, and eventually to market liberalization by Deng Xiaoping and Russian leaders.

  8. Dirty Laundry is not an Eagles song. It is actually a Don Henly song when he went solo. If I wanted to keep my 2015 Jetta pristine and not get it down graded am I going to be able to or will big brother force me to have my car ruined? Car is registered in Texas.

    • Hi Matt,

      I think it will depend on whether your state/county has periodic emissions checks (which your car must typically pass before you can renew your vehicle’s registration/tags). If so, then you will probably have to get the car “fixed.”

    • Is there an aftermarket programmer available for your vehicle? If so, those usually have the ability to store the current stock program, which can be reinstalled at a later date, all through the OBD II port and usually only for a couple hundred bucks. You could then conceivably swap between the 2 programs, although since the old one was good at cheating, might not be necessary as long as you have the underhood sticker that assures the inspector you’ve been flashed. If the eventual fix involves more than a software flash, that may be a different story.

    • In Texas emission testing is required only in the following areas/counties:
      Austin-Round Rock: Travis. Williamson.
      Houston-Galveston-Brazoria: Brazoria. Fort Bend. Galveston. Harris. Montgomery.
      Dallas-Fort Worth: Collin. Dallas. Denton. Ellis. Johnson. Kaufman. Parker. Rockwall. Tarrant.
      El Paso: El Paso.

  9. Eric, I haven’t seen it mentioned much recently, but I think it bears repeating here. The US government has a soft embargo against diesel cars because it taxes fuel by the gallon. Fewer gallons of fuel being sold to euro style diesels getting 60mpg means way fewer tax dollars for the US debt machine.

      • The underlying delusion is that “Governments act on behalf of the greater good”.

        In fact, as anyone who stops to think about the issue with a clear head for a minute ought to realize, people in government act on behalf of their own good, just like people everywhere.

        The only difference being that because they have a monopoly on the use of force, their actions on behalf of their own good, are carried out at gunpoint.

        And statism indoctrinated sheeple call anarchists “naive”!

  10. I have a 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen TDI which I LOVE! Previous vehicle was a 2005 Hyundai Tucson which was reliable, but not fun to drive in any way and got me about 22.5 mpg over it’s life of mixed driving with and without cargo (I’m a photographer and take my cases around for a living). I have had my VW since June and have been so impressed not only with the fun factor, the peppy accelerator and torque that makes my gear feel weightless, but most importantly to me by the fact that I average 46.5 mpg!! The tank is 3.5 gal smaller and I have to fill up half as much. I am simply burning half as much fuel.
    So, if I am to understand this seemingly ridiculous crusade by the EPA they want me to lose power and spend more money on fuel while simultaneously burning more of it? I should think that over the course of a year burning significantly more fuel will easily pollute more and not less.
    Personally I am not upset with VW, but they should have waged a media campaign against the EPA and I think they still could in order to save themselves. The lunacy of the government is palpable.

    • Agreed, Gus.

      VW’s mistake was to do this on the down low. And then, to beg forgiveness. I actually offered them my services to help get the word out about what the government is doing to diesels generally, not just VW diesels.

      Unfortunately, VW corporate is just as timid as any other corporation. The deference to orthodoxies and fear of being perceived (however erroneously) as “not green” (or “safe”) is for them like daylight to Dracula, unfortunately.

  11. Still believe I’m too extreme in desiring to throw off the shackles BEFORE they’re welded on?
    When the bully is screaming in your face, “I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!!!” but has a gun strapped to his thigh? The intent is to provoke a response, so that he is then “justified” in using that gun.
    Stab him first.
    Then again.
    And again and again and again, until it stops wiggling.

    It’s war they want; give it to them, good and hard, until they have no stomach for it. (Which, in our society, is probably all of showing the blade, forget acting. Bundy Ranch comes to mind, with the counterpoints of Waco and Ruby Ridge for when the story is told by the State-run Media. Wonder why they’re suddenly to anxious to make the internet a public utility? And want it controlled by the UN? And it must have “kill switches”? “I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!!!!!!!” )

  12. This is left wing science denial.

    How is this a major news story? The headlines should read, cars perform different under different circumstances.

    It is all about the testing methodology.

    • Hi C_lover,

      I think it’s worse than that; it’s willful ignorance combined with hate. The object here is to hurt VW. And to make things more expensive for car buyers generally.

      I got into a “debate” (if such a thing is possible) with the ur troll – the real Clover – about the $4,700 Renault Kwid. He went on and on about how the car’s many (as he sees them) faults. I kept on asking: Why do you object to others being free to buy one, if they wish? No one is demanding that you buy one?

      He of course would never answer this direct question.

      He hates the idea that such a car – without all the “features” he desires or believes ought to be installed in every car – be available, even if he does not have to buy one. Even if he can buy another car that has the “features” he desires and believes a car ought to have.

      It’s the same mindset that demands everyone buy health insurance – because Clover believes everyone must have health insurance.

      • It’s the american control freak. In Europe their dear leaders want fuel economy so what do they do? They tax the crap out of displacement and fuel. So you could still buy what you wanted (well before they started copying the USA) if you could afford the higher taxation. The american control freak can’t be so accommodating. Going back 400 years or so the American control freak has to deny the very choices he doesn’t approve of. Which is why (at least in part) we have CAFE instead of a simple fuel tax. They had to remove the choice of the big american sedan and wagon from the market so people couldn’t buy it. It wasn’t enough to make it too expensive for most people, it had to be done away with.

        Of course there are other motivating factors leading to a CAFE model including making it a hidden cost for re-election purposes, casting the corporations as evil, self promotion of gifting us fuel efficient cars, and so on. They might have even been the priorities but control freakism has it’s role.

        They don’t want the choices they don’t approve of available. Medical regulation, food regulation, housing regulation, everything has an undercurrent of getting rid of the things those with power don’t approve of.

  13. This is all about letting the car companies know who is in charge. Nothing more and nothing less than the U.S. Government.

    They are tightening the chains, little by little and almost people buy right in. Bastards, every single one.


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