Reader Question: Those “Fixed” TDIs?

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

Tim asks: I was excited to read on your blog about the “fixed” VW TDIs. I owned two and sold them back to VW. Recently I asked my local dealer if he was aware of the VW plan to sell the “fixed TDIs” through the dealership network. He was, and remains, totally unaware of it. Can you update me? I’m interested in buying one.

My reply: The “fixed” models include previously owned (but bought back) VWs as well as brand-new ones – mostly 2016 model year –  that VW (corporate) held back from distribution while the “cheating” scandal worked itself out. Once the deal with Uncle was finalized, VW got permission (sickening terminology) to “fix” them, obtained EPA certification and began to sell them.

This occurred last year (2018).

It’s possible there may still be a few “new” (and “fixed”) 2016 models sitting on lots somewhere, but my bet is most of these have by now been sold. However, there should be a good selection of previously owned TDI VWs available – including those not “fixed” by their owners.

While VW has been pressuring owners of TDI-powered cars to bring them in to be “fixed,” it is not a legal requirement – and the cars will pass state-level emissions tests, so getting and renewing registration, etc., should be no problem.

The issue was with federal (EPA) certification.

I personally would look for an “unfixed” VW. The “fix” entails a software adjustment (in most cases) that will not improve operation of the vehicle and may noticeably reduce mileage.

So long as it’s not required to “fix” the car, I would not do so.

. . .

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

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  1. I own a “fixed” 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI so I know something about this topic, but I do not claim to be an expert. I believe the things I say below are true, but I make no guarantees.

    The “fixed” TDIs were sold during the spring/early summer of 2017. That’s when I bought mine. They were all new (never titled) 2015 models (not 2016 – I’m pretty sure 2016 TDIs were never brought into the US).

    2015 was the first model year for the Gen 7 TDI. Gen 7 was the first year that an AdBlue (urea) injection system was built into the TDI cars. That made the fix relatively simple for the 2015 cars: (1) increase the fuel burn, but not outrageously (less than 10%). More fuel burned means less free oxygen in the combustion chamber means less NOx; (2) Increase the amount of AdBlue injected into the exhaust system (up to 17% more); and (3) reprogram the transmission shift points so that the tranny desperately grasps for the high gears at low speeds in D (mine is still in top (6th) gear after slowing to 30 mph). Fortunately, in S (sport) mode, the tranny remains well behaved and has good shift points. I always drive in S.

    To the best of my knowledge, the hundreds of thousands(!) of used TDI cars bought by VW of 2014 and earlier model years have not been fixed and will not be fixed. The problem is the lack of an AdBlue injection system in Gen 6 and earlier cars. There is simply no way to make the cars compliant without urea injection, and there is really no good way to add an AdBlue system to cars that weren’t designed for it. The deadline for coming up with an acceptable fix for 2014 and earlier cars is, I believe, sometime in the summer of 2019. If that deadline is missed – and it will be, I’m sure – the cars must be destroyed.

    Think of it: hundreds of thousands of perfectly good and desirable cars sent to the shredder. How many resources will be consumed, and how much pollution will be generated, to build the hundreds of thousands of replacement cars? Way more than the little bit of extra NOx these cars would have generated as a consequence of VW’s cheating. Makes no sense at all, but Uncle’s temper tantrums seldom do.

    Bottom line: I doubt that any more “fixed” TDI’s will be available, except on the used car market. If you’re buying used, though, it would probably be better to buy a fully intact “unfixed” car with all of the man-parts still attached.

  2. I’m sure there are people and shops who do switches to bypass whatever emissions they can, so like VW, they can cheat the emissions?

    Wonder how much a system like that would cost?

    Side note, nothing looks cooler to me than a 5th gen Jetta TDI Cup edition. It won’t win too many races stock (Except against the Mangina’s in Prius’), but still solid


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