Reader Question: Finding a Diesel VW?

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

Steve asks: You mentioned on a recent appearance with Tom Woods that the diesel Jetta is available again. Any suggestions on how to find one? They all seem to be gas.

My reply: The new ones are all gas . . . unfortunately. VW no longer sells any diesel-powered vehicles in this market and probably never will again. But, you can still buy a new VW with a diesel engine.

It just won’t be a current year VW.

Here’s the scoop: When the “cheating” scandal broke, VW put a large number of 2016/2017 TDI-powered models into storage; you may have seen news stories about this. These cars are being fed back into the pipeline, through VW dealers. They’re now 2-3 years old in terms of the calendar but they’re still basically brand-new cars. They’ve never been titled, no appreciable mileage and so no wear and tear.

They’ve been “fixed, of course – meaning, adjusted to be compliant with federal exhaust emissions standards – so they’re not quite as fuel-efficient as they were before being “fixed.” However, nothing short of a hybrid is more fuel-efficient and the diesel has the advantage of being more very-long-term durable. If you want a car you could expect to drive for the next 12-20 years and put 200,000-plus miles on it without major work being necessary (probably) then the diesel is the safer bet.

Hybrids have batteries and these inevitably become less efficient over time and eventually have to be replaced – and that can cost thousands of dollars.

Ok, so how to find one of these cars?

Here’s what I’d do: Compose an email indicating your interest in a diesel-powered VW (you can indicate an interest in both the holdover inventory of new/2016-2017 cars and lightly used models, if you are open to them) and then send that to every VW store within a radius of your willingness to drive to see the car. If you have a specific model (e.g., a Jetta or Golf) mention that and state your preference in re options and features. Ask them to give you their best “out the door” price – and wait for replies. You’re likely to get several. Your job is then to winnow those down and pick the car which suits best at the best price.

One thing: If you end up shopping for a “new” 2016/2017 make sure you get a warranty addendum for the time side of the coverage. Most new car warranties are effective for “X” months and “X” miles. These cars may have no (or close to no miles) on them, but the majority of their original three year coverage is already gone. I’d haggle with the dealer to toss in a ride/extension that covers the car for 2-3 years going forward.

And one more thing: Because these cars have been sitting for a year or more, I’d want the oil/filter to be changed (regardless of mileage) and I’d check carefully for flat-spotted tires; a test drive is imperative. If the tires are flat-spotted (from sitting) you’ll be able to tell from the ride. Ask the dealer to replace them.

Keep us posted!

. . .

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

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