Reader Question: Accept VW’s Buyback Offer?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Kathleen asks: Eric, I’ve followed your articles on the VW diesel scam since its beginning. I’m the proud owner of a VW TDI; but as the “end” becomes near, I’m still agonizing over whether or not I should DO SOMETHING! VW will give me around $27,000 for my car on a buyback, which would certainly allow me to purchase something else with no payments; but my diesel, with just 54,500 miles on it, hasn’t given me a day’s trouble in the nearly three years I’ve had it. I am, however, concerned that will come to a screeching halt and I will be subject to ridiculous repair bills on a German car that I could have turned in for more than I paid for it. I’m also concerned that the “fix” is not actually a fix and will cause problems down the road, in spite of the warranty and bribe money that comes with it. Any advice? My car is a 2014 model year, and I’m thinking of going to the 2015 platform of the Sportwagen.

My reply: This is a very tough call. On the one hand, you have a great car – and a car you like – as well as type of car that is no longer available and which may never be available again. As you know, the mileage (and performance) of VW’s TDI-powered cars exceeds expectations. You have probably seen 50 MPG or more on the highway. There is nothing available new that can touch this which isn’t a hybrid – and that entails buying a car with two drivetrains (gas engine and electric motor/battery pack) and so twice the potential for problems.

Also, the latest generation of gas-engined cars have their own set of negatives, including specifically very small/very turbocharged engines that are also (for the most part) gas direct injection (DI) engines, too. The long-term durability of very small/very turbocharged gas engines is unknown. And it is known that DI engines are prone to carbon build-up problems. Some within as little as 40,000 miles or even less.

Diesels are, of course, turbocharged as well. But it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison because diesel engines are much heavier-duty and diesel fuel acts as lubricant. Also, diesel engines work less hard, which helps them live much longer.

You will probably be able to drive your car 300,000 miles without major issues, if you decide to keep it.

The main concern I would have – and I think it’s a remote concern, for now at least – is that the feds or the states will either require that the “affected” cars be “fixed” or refuse to renew tags/registration if the owner does not.

I doubt that will happen, though. And in the meanwhile, you might look into what is happening to the retail values of TDI VWs… they are going up.

It goes back to what I wrote at the top. They are not making new cars like this – and probably never will again. The $27k VW is offering may look like a very bad deal a year or two from now… .

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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