They See Five Fingers Now…

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After Winston had been taught to love Big Brother, you could find him sipping Victory Gin at the Chestnut Tree Cafe.

VW’s “cheating” diesels – now approved by Big Brother – can now be found available for sale at your local VW store.

But like Winston, they are not quite the same anymore.

These are brand-new 2015-2016 models – almost 70,000 pf them – which for the past two years have been strapped to gurneys deep within the bowels of the Ministry of Love, in Room 101. There, under the guidance of the EPA’s version of O’Brien, the cars have been  . . . fixed.

And now you may buy one.

The question is – should you?

On the one hand, the deals are apt to be very good. Dented cans always sell for less. And these are two-year-old dented cans, even if the odometers read zero and the plastic’s still on the seats.

But even if you don’t take into consideration the “fixing,” it’s a two-year-old car (in the case of the 2015s) and the prices ought to reflect that. Figure at least 20 percent off the original MSRP – plus probably another 10 percent to take into account the extra measure of depreciation inflicted by the taint of scandal.

It is very possible you’ll be able to purchase a brand-new 2015 TDI-powered VW for a bit more than half what it cost new.

But, of course, it will also be . . . “fixed.”

That means both reprogramming a-la-Winston, to be “cleaner” (There are five fingers there . . . do you see five fingers?) as well as mechanical  alterations, which are permanent. You may not want to drive a “fixed” VW, no matter how attractively priced.

It will run . . . differently, first of all.

It will have to.

VW “cheated” because it was not possible to make the car Uncle-compliant and drive the way customers expected. This includes both performance and fuel economy. In particular, almost certainly, under wide open throttle. It is always a challenge to keep a car within Uncle’s Limits when the gas pedal goes to the floor. This is the moment when the most fuel is being burned and exhaust gas volume is highest.

The “fixed” VWs are probably less responsive; their power is likely down a bit, too. No, wait. Probably is too soft a word. It is almost certainly going to be the case that the “fixed” VWs will be down on performance and also not drive as snappily as before. If that weren’t necessary to achieve Uncle compliance, VW surely would have built them that way to begin with.

Fuel economy is apt to be lower as well. For just the same reason. If VW could have made them Uncle compliant and 45 MPG-capable, they would have.

Something had to give – and did.

One thing is certain:

Every “fixed” VW will have a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) circuit) added to its exhaust plumbing. VW was the last car company selling new diesel-powered cars to sell them without DEF injection – because it’s not possible (apparently) to meet Uncle’s approval without DEF injection. The fact that VW was still selling diesel-powered cars without DEF as recently as just a couple of years ago is probably one of the things that sicced the emissions control version of theThought Police on VW. They probably ought to have rigged the cars with dummy DEF systems.

Who would have known?

Anyhow, the fact is your “fixed” VW will have had a DEF system grafted in place. This is probably the biggest worry about buying such a car because the cars weren’t designed for them and adding them after the fact is not unlike adding air conditioning to a car not originally equipped with AC. It may work ok. But it may also not work ok, especially after a few years. And then you have a non-factory system, with weird plumbing and non-standard parts.

VW will no doubt have to warranty everything – but that doesn’t immunize you from the hassle, if the car suffers a malfunction.

Regardless, you’ll have to deal with the DEF tank and periodic top-offs. It’s not a huge hassle or expense, but it may be an additional hassle and expense you don’t want to deal with at all.

One thing to be aware of with regard to DEF injection and modern diesel-powered cars so equipped is that if the DEF system stops working, so does the car. The computer is programmed to prevent the engine from being re-started if the DEF tank is allowed to run dry or the system’s just not working.

Remember: The computer works for Uncle, not for you.

It might be a better bet – if you’re interested in a not-fixed VW diesel – to find and buy one on the private market, via classified ads.

The same way Winston used to go shopping at the antique store owned by Mr. Charrington. 

These VWs will perform as advertised – and they’ll deliver better than EPA-advertised fuel economy. Ask anyone who owns one. Or ask me. I’ve driven all of them and they are the only new cars I’ve test-driven in almost 30 years of test driving new cars that not only met but exceeded the window-sticker City/Highway mileage numbers. A not-fixed Jetta TDI will deliver 50-something MPG on the highway, nearly as good as a Prius hybrid but without the hybrid blech.

And – for now – you can still “get away” with owning and driving a not-fixed VW. The government hasn’t yet issued a fatwa ordering people to bring them in to be “fixed.” And they will still pass your local smog test, too – if you have to deal with that.

But you never know.

One day, you might wake up to find that Mr. Charrington is actually a colonel in the Thought Police  . . . and it’s off to Room 101 for you.

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19 COMMENTS

    • Hi DB,

      Ugh… that no good!

      Why do they do that? I mean – christ! – adequate thread length to retain clamping force is a pretty simple thing and doesn’t add a lot of expense to the design… an extra 1/4 inch or whatever head bolt length… crikey…

      • And in aluminum, no less! These issues in engineering were pretty much solved early-on in the Industrial Revolution- why are they frequently coming back now in “information age” with computers, and a few centuries of past experience to fall back on?

        When have aluminum blocks EVER been a good idea?!

        100 years ago, they’d over-build everything- and it would last forever. (Example: The Brooklyn Bridge). Today, they build things to the minum standard, and then screw-up the easy parts!

        • People don’t take care of their stuff and buy on price. When it’s old it gets replaced because it is old. Most stuff will last long enough without care.

          As far as threads and spark plugs its a matter of machining cycle length. Less threads means less time on the machine. Less time on the machine reduces cost. I just completed a design that reduced machining time by at least 50%. Got rid of two tapped holes, a bearing bore, mating surfaces, etc.

          The problem with the fewer threads for spark plugs is that they must be torqued to spec. Once someone hammers on them the threads will fail sooner or later. Torque is controlled at the factory so it works. It’s the ham fistedness beyond the factory where it becomes an issue.

  1. Hey Eric, Irony of ironies!

    I just went to Youtube, and for the very first time, one of your vids was on the home page that I see. No surprise there, as of course, I’ve watched your vids- but the irony is, it was RIGHT next to some kind of pro-police video! (And, as I’m sure you can guess, I’ve NEVER ever watched a pro-pig vid!)

    Didn’t think- I should’ve taken a screen shot!

    What’s next? A vid of Hitlery Clinton singing Kumbaya? [shudder]

  2. Morning eric, I noticed your illustrious guvnah’s been up to his usual yankee shenanigans, vetoing 5 pro gun bills the lege passed. Now he’s determined to enact retrogressive legislation to limit gun sales. According to him Va. has a bad rap of supplying guns to criminals from other states and he’s determined to right that wrong.

    He doesn’t mention the BATFE being the leading cause of illegal sales along with murderous results

    He’s the epitome of how to tell when a politician is lying.

    Well, back to looking for an affordable Leupold scope with CDS
    Think I’ll go with a laser genetics in green for illumination.

    Nobody seems to be offended with the wife’s Spike’s Tactical tee shirt with a ST rifle with the message Kills Jihad On Contact. We don’t have anyone in these parts advocating jihad on white folks…… but we’re prepared to nip it in the bud.

  3. VW has learnt the hard way who they really need to keep happy: not paying customers but the unelected EPA mafia. The real customers end up paying the price. Wouldn’t be surprised if this was orchestrated behind the scenes by GM and/or Ford to gimp their competition.
    Unfortunately the US is too big a market for VW to ignore so they can’t walk away.

  4. That is actually wonderful news. I am guessing the performance probably took a hit, but I doubt enough to negate the benefits the TDi brings to the table

    A brief Google search came up with quite a few chipping options for them.

    Off the VW dealer for me!

    • Hi Alexander,

      You know, I’d be tempted myself… but first priority is getting a propane heater put in the house. I’m getting tired of chucking logs in the fire every three hours for four months each year.

  5. Hey Eric, do you think it would be possible to UNfix one of these? My son knows some computer savvy people that could probably reprogram the chip if that’s all that’s needed; might be harder if there’s wiring and plumbing to be redone but the idea of getting a brand new car at a substantial discount is quite appealing ?.

    • Hi Mike,

      Reprogramming the ECU is probably easy; and I suppose once that was done, the DEF could just be ignored. Any VW people out there want to chime in?

      • Yeah, very easy fix. Tons of ECU flash or swap options. You can either yank off the DEF system or simply have it electronically deleted when you flash. And while you’re at it, might as well fix the intake, remove the cats, program delete the soot burn cycle, and have the boost increased. Obviously, this is only going to fly in a state that doesn’t emissions test diesels, or if you have a mechanic willing to falsify the test for you.

          • Delete the the SCR program and the car will pass Emission Checks just fine. There is only a visual check for the DPF (if the guy checking even knows what one looks like) so you can delete that program and gut the DPF also.

        • That sounds really good! Please be so kind as to post specific details on hardware and software!
          Just curious, but some people around here who own VWs aren’t very impressed with their quality after a few years – minor stuff like starter solenoids and not so minor stuff like switches in the dash hard to reach and diagnosis. They are voting for Toyotas – 367,000 miles on ’96 and 97 Avalons and Camrys all original, except for tires, brakes, struts, battery, etc. Sides are worn on the leather seats, otherwise good.
          Any trends about the rest of the car?

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