Reader Question: Sussing out Those Un-PC TDI VWs?

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

Martin asks: You mentioned on the Tom Woods Show (audio here) that VW would be selling off the diesel powered models that were frozen after the emissions kerfluffle. How might one best go about finding and purchasing one? I’m in New Mexico if that makes a difference. What should we expect given that they’ve been sitting unused for months? Should we be wary about available parts and service given that the models have been discontinued? Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

My reply: There is indeed a huge inventory of “new old stock” VWs which VW – the company – is beginning to feed to its dealer network for sale. These include brand-new cars (2016 and 2017 models, chiefly) as well as used ones that VW bought back from owners.

These cars will have been “fixed” – that is, made compliant with the regulations via reprogramming or other mechanical changes (such as adding urea injection) which will likely mean a decrease in mileage/performance but even so, these cars will still give better mileage than any non-hybrid car and with greater longevity than a hybrid. I would not hesitate to buy one myself.

However, there are some things to consider – or rather, check for. The main concern I would have would be potentially flat-spotted tires from sitting for all those months. They may be ok, but pay close attention when test driving the car. Any vibration through the wheel or similar indicates flat spotting and I would negotiate a new set of tires as part of the deal.

It is probably sound policy to also change the oil and filter, even if the car has virtually no mileage on the clock. Cheap insurance.

Speaking of that . . . my understanding is that VW will include a warranty addendum with these cars. It will address the issue – as regards the “new” 2016/2017 models – of their original new car warranties being almost expired on time, even though the miles have not accrued.

Regardless, I’d also try to get the dealer to include an extended warranty or free oil/filter/fluid service for a couple of years as part of the deal.

As far as how to find these cars: I would send an email to every VW dealer within a radius of however far you are willing to drive and ask them whether they have or will be getting any of these cars in inventory. If you have a particular model (e.g., New Beetle or Jetta) you are interested in, let them know and ask them to get in touch.

If the car they have is “new,” all you have to do is haggle over price. Figure – roughly – around 3 percent of current retail market value. This will be – or ought to be – about 20 percent below original MSRP because these cars are now 2-3 years old, even if they aren’t really used cars. So, potentially a great deal to be had.

If the car is used (a “buyback”) then all the usual rules of used car buying apply. Each car should be considered as an individual – its specific condition, mileage and so on being taken into account.

My book – Don’t Get Taken for a Ride – gets into all of this and you can download it for free here.

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

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  1. So I am wondering when the same shops that “repair” from-the-factory-flawed-by-fatwa diesel trucks will attack this market and repair the “fixed” 2.0 TDI fleet? Unlike the trucks, VWs software is notoriously difficult to modify.

    • I’m more wondering how many people will do their own cheat devices, and other necessary “unfixes” to restore the lost mileage and regain some power

      Come the mandatory emissions testing, they just reinstall the old crap, get passed and keep it in storage until next time… or will the people doing the testing not even notice in the first place?


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