/ Money, Motoring

Update: Do you think Volkswagen should compensate car owners?

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We’ve surveyed more than 2,000 VW diesel owners – nine in ten think people affected by the scandal should be compensated. And yet, Volkswagen has so far failed to announce redress.

What’s most important to you when you buy a car? Well, when we asked VW owners, 96% said fuel efficiency and 90% the environmental impact. These are both areas that have been undermined by the scandal involving ‘defeat devices’ that were fitted to diesels.

The scandal has had such a big effect on VW car owners, that over half would now be put off buying a VW diesel car in the future.

Diane felt she bought her VW under false pretenses:

‘What they said at purchase point influenced my decision to purchase, and had I had the full facts, I never would have done so. Categorically not. I want it recalled and offered an alternative car.’

Letters from Volkswagen

I know lots of you have received letters from VW now, which point you to a website where you see updates. The fact that the company is contacting affected owners is great, but the letters are short on detail. There’s also still no mention of redress.

When quizzed by the Government’s transport committee on Monday, VW’s UK boss Paul Willis refused to confirm whether they’d compensate customers, saying it was ‘too premature to talk about loss of value’. He also said that a recall might not happen until the new year, despite more than a million UK cars being affected.

Anne told us she’s really worried about the re-sale value of her two cars:

‘This is the first time we have ever been able to afford new cars and sadly both of our new cars are affected. I’m really worried about the re-sale value now and feel we’ll need to hang onto these cars forever so that we don’t lose out too much. The environmental impact concerns me greatly too.’

VW must address redress

Today we’re again urging VW to set out a clear timetable for redress, and calling on the Government to closely monitor the car maker’s next steps to ensure recalls and redress happen quickly and easily. We also want assurances from the Government that it will prevent anything like this happening again

Do you think VW needs to address redress? Will you think again before buying a Volkswagen, Audi, Seat or Skoda car?

[UPDATE 19 OCTOBER 2015] – According to our second survey, the effect of the VW scandal has spread beyond just those affected to owners of other cars.

In our survey of more than 1,000 UK car owners, eight in ten people expect more car makers to be drawn into the emissions scandal. Only one in five said they think the Government has a clear action plan in place, and more than three quarters agreed that the Government should ensure new fuel tests are brought in as soon as possible.

We’re calling on the Government to quickly start an independent investigation into the scandal, and to work with the European Commission to bring in new tests you can trust.

[Update 14 January 2016] – VW’s UK boss, Paul Willis, has told MPs that VW will conduct repair work on vehicles rather than making payments to British drivers.

And yet, payouts are being offered in the US. In November 2015, around 482,000 US motorists were offered a compensation package equivalent to £693. Then earlier this week an announcement was made to extend compensation to cover tens of thousands of US owners of larger diesel vehicles.

Paul Willis said that the US is a ‘very different situation’ due to regulations which leaves it unclear as to whether the vehicles can be fixed. We don’t think that’s fair.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘This is just not good enough for VW customers, when nine out of ten told us they thought those impacted by the scandal should receive compensation.

‘British consumers deserve to be treated fairly. We urge Volkswagen to reconsider its position, and we want assurances from the Government that it will introduce measures to prevent a scandal like this happening again.’

[Update 22 April 2016] – Volkswagen has announced that it will pay ‘substantial compensation’ to US car owners affected by the diesel emissions scandal. The news came in a California court, where the judge said that the settlement is expected to include an offer to buy back affected cars. The car maker and regulators have until late June to agree all the final details of the pay out.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen’s customers in the UK will be angry about this news. People will not understand why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2million owners affected in the UK.

‘Volkswagen needs to act now and set out what they will do for their UK customers.’

[Update 28 June 2016]– Volkswagen will pay out £11bn to settle the diesel emissions scandal in the US. The terms of the settlement were revealed today in the US District Court in San Francisco. It’s been agreed that VW will pay over £7.5bn to either purchase the cheating vehicles or pay for repairs, and owners of around 10,000 VWs will receive £7,500 in compensation. A further £2bn will be paid to the US government for environmental mitigation. The company will also pay £1.5bn for research into zero-emissions vehicles.

Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill, commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen customers in the UK will rightly question why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2 million owners affected in this country.

‘VW must not be let off the hook, the Government should intervene and stand up for UK consumers.’

If you think UK VW owners should also receive compensation, join almost 80,000 others by signing our petition.


Re the emissions saga, first I would like to see some independent research from Which? as to whether the VW ‘fix’ works and can be recommended. I have received several letters from VW asking me to take my car in for a ‘free’ fix – but can I be assured that it does work – without adversely affecting other parameters like fuel consumption. Come on Which?, get on with it. I cannot be the only Which? member with a VW car being chased by VW. To a certain extent, the issue of compensation would be influenced by whether the fix works.

Most of these tests have been , and are being done, by KBA (the German Type Approval Authority) with some by VCA (the UK’s Type Approval Authority). VCA will not themselves receive details of KBA tests, only notification of approved technical solutions. We in the UK should be given results of the tests that affect the motorist – notably mpg – to see whether owners have suffered “detriment”. I hope Which? is requesting this information. No point in repeating expensive tests.

VW claim to have sent customers three letters re. the problem, but I have only received two at the present time.

We also have had two letters – one in Dec 2015 and one in April 2016 – still heard nothing regarding when it will be fixed and cannot get any indication from the website or phoning VW or the local main dealer. We are very unhappy with the way VW is handling this.

I bought my 10-Reg diesel Golf when it was about six months old. If I had been buying new, I might have been influenced by the emissions scandal, but no-one knew about it then. My Golf was a great car before the scandal came to light, and it is still a great car! It regularly returns 60+mpg and is impressively reliable. In addition to several letters from VW UK, my local dealer has kept me in the picture re a ‘fix’. At the moment I have no wish to be compensated because I have not suffered any stress or financial loss. However, if the fix significantly reduces the performance or fuel consumption, I think VW should offer some compensation.

I think it is important that knowingly deceiving the public is not treated as a major crime.

To do so would be an inhibitor on the ability of companies to gain market share at the expense of more cautious competitors.

I too have suffered no harm directly so far so lets give VW a break. If they lied to protect themselves it has not hurt me personally so so what.

The VW shareholders will have been stuffed but that is their problem, and of course those “greens” being mislead about buying low emission vehicles don’t need my support.

David says:
4 March 2017

The value of your car has reduced because of the saga.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited as it breached our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

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I agree, Duncan. I cannot and will not accept cheating in any form.

At long last my car has been modified and so far I cannot see any significant difference. I no longer trust the VW Group so I could post negative information but I would prefer to be honest. I am planning to keep my car for another five years so loss in value might not be a problem for me, but I support those whose vehicles have lost value.

David Haydock says:
24 October 2016

I recently had the software fix on my 2.0 TDI blue motion passat estate. On leaving the dealership I was handed a presentation box containing a mug, keyring and pen (not the several thousand pounds promised to American owners). If this is supposed to re-affirm my loyalty to the brand it hasn’t worked. My wife and I have owned at least 10 vw/audi’s over the years. Will I be buying from them again? No.
And the fix? – performance feels much the same but fuel economy looks to be suffering.

had my passat 2.ol blue motion done in towcester on 21st october ,recieved the same thing Mug,Keyring and clean car. but my consumption wont go over 44 mpg ,before i was gettin 55-59 mpg on same trip every day

Had the software fix on my 2.0 TDI blue motion passat estate in Sept 16. I too had a presentation box with the same items . The real downside is that now the exhaust really stinks all the time and occasionally blows out smoke. Anyone else experiencing the same problems?

Julian Cox says:
30 October 2016

I have a Golf 1.9 tdi and at the routine service in August, at the local VW garage, the emissions were corrected for “free” as an additional complimentary service. I had no problem with that and the car runs normally with no effect on performance.
What irritated me was the “gift” from VW to thank me for my patience and inconvenience for driving a car for years with illegal emissions. The gift came in a large sturdy black box and looked expensive, However, the box contained a cheap biro, a key fob and a small thermos flask. The contents were probably worth less than the box! I would have rather had a discount off the cost of the service and told VW that when I had an email some days later ,asking me to confirm how delighted I had been with the service. No reply has been received.

Not sure why they gave you a gift, as far as I know the 1.9 engines were not affected.

Fed up with VW says:
31 October 2016

I think they are playing for time because the longer this goes on more owners will have sold their cars. Personally I will never buy another VAG car after the treatment we have received.

Brian Cuzner says:
11 November 2016

Whatever you do avoid the VW engine software update. Your cars engine as mine did will almost probably end up with diesel clatter in the lower engine rev range. As I understand it the update is not required in order to pass the UK MOT test as testing for NOx (the contentious issue) is not part of the emissions test. The Daily Telegraphs ‘Honest John’ motoring section contains numerous reports from VW owners describing the aforementioned engine problems following the update(s).

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I took my Tiguan Match into the main dealer for its recall last week and, so far, 200 miles later, have no complaints about how it is running. There is no engine knocking and it feels as smooth as before, but I’m not sure yet whether it’s quite as economical as it was. It’s never been great in that regard despite all the technology. My car is manual and many of the complaints on the Honest John website seem to relate to cars with DSG auto boxes. My car was valeted and I was lent a Jetta for the day but no box of gifts was forthcoming! I have no quarrel with the main dealer’s service but have just had a letter from the sales manager trying to entice me into the showroom as my car is nearly three years old. Unless VW plays fair in terms of compensation, as it has in the US, there is no way that I will buy another in a year or two’s time, or a Skoda, Seat or Audi. There is massive competition in the SUV sector and VW needs to remember that the consumer is spoilt for choice. I had five Citroens over nearly thirty years but, as things stand at present, this will be my first and last VW.

Has Which made any further progress with its own investgations into this issue and if so may they be added to this site as a further update please.

My concern is that we are almost at the end of our PCP deal and the value of the car appears to be significantly less that was advised when taking out the deal. If i had known that the emissions were higher i would not have purchased the car. The trade in value has left me with negative equity, something which the dealer said at the time was “highly unlikely”. Having advertised locally out of the 4 people who viewed 3 asked if the car was implicated and then tried to use that as a reason to knock down the asking price. Like most people, I received 2 letters several months apart neither of which contained anything of note. Now suddenly there seems to be a push to get it fixed. Is it coincidence that its near the end of my PCP deal? If i get it fixed will it negate any potential compensation later? it is obvious from comments below and from the perception of people who have viewed my car that the fuel economy suffers and certainly the resale value does.
WHICH – it would be great if you could look into the legal firms who are pursuing VW on behalf of the UK drivers and see who is creaming the most off the potential compensations. Lets be honest these firm are taking the moral high ground, championing the consumer and defending our earth – but no doubt not out of true altruism but for healthy profit.
Could fellow which members post what % commission they have come across for potential claims

I’ve heard of 30% of the value of each claim.

I feel cheated on a car that was not cheap to buy and does not live up to the expectations that it was supposed to . I had my car valued and it is not holding it’s value because of the emissions fault . I think we should all be treated fairly and compensated for the vw cover up it has been missold to innocent people who trusted vw.

“Government must hold VW to account and sort this mess out” – Which? comments on VW evidence at Transport Committee
20 February 2017

Vickie Sheriff, Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications, said: “Volkswagen drivers in the UK have been treated woefully by the company and will continue to question why there is no compensation deal on the table for the 1.2 million owners affected. The UK Government must act to hold VW to account and sort this mess out.”

@patrick, would Which? spell out exactly how they propose compensation should be calculated?

In my view owners should be compensated for actual loss – any reduction in mpg (demonstrated independently), reduction in trade-in value at some defined point in time, cost of taking the car to be modified and inconvenience for example.

The Government should be compensated for any loss of tax revenue (VED and company motorists’ benefit-in-kind income tax) if CO2 is in a higher band than published originally (NEDC values will demonstrate this). They should also impose a fine if cheating is shown to have affected regulatory NOX emissions – NEDC figures will again demonstrate this.

@patrick, before I forget having asked this question, will Which? be spelling out the exact basis on which they propose VW should provide compensation?

I picked up a friend yesterday and drove my Golf 1.6 TDI about 65 miles to a park & ride car park yesterday and returned later in the day. Most of the journey was on a motorway. I was disappointed in achieving 55 mpg on the outward journey but on the return journey it recorded 71.7 mpg. I suspect that the strong wind may have been partly responsible for the difference in mpg. These are the first longer journeys I have been made since the car was modified.

The ‘Control system for exhaust’ warning light on my 2012 Skoda Yeti 2 litre TDI came on.

I took my it in for its diagnostic test yesterday – the throttle body was the problem.
Judging by the pictures, there was at least 1-2 mm of soot caked on its interior.
This is covered by VW’s warranty, so at least I don’t have pay for the test or the repairs.
DOT figures say the the “fix” results in the production of 3 times more diesel particulates.
So what is to stop the new throttle body from sooting up and failing?
And then there is the extra strain on the DPF, the EGR, the injectors and all the other components within the exhaust gas recirculation, fuel injection and emissions system.
VW has agreed to spend  $25 billion in the United States to resolve claims from owners and have offered to buy back about 500,000 vehicles.
Why is there no such deal here in the UK?
My Yeti’s engine has been trashed and its value (even if I could sell it) has been severely reduced, by VW’s appalling corporate behaviour.

Is there a throttle body on a diesel engine?

We appear to forget the USA letter from Audi and VWG states the fix will affect fuel consumption, as well as further effects yet uk letter says nothing changes no extra fuel needed yet this is the same car.

I assumed that my car (Golf 1.6 TDI) would use more fuel after the modification but I have not noticed any change. I don’t know about the other engines that were subject to modification.

Peter Jermy says:
13 September 2018

I have run VW diesels for some years and do not feel cheated in any way! The car does exactly what it said it would, and like now is no dirtier than many other diesels, and indeed less so than many.
Equally I see little or no evidence that it has affected the second hand value and indeed I am about to buy another. I don’t remember VW telling me what pollution levels to expect, just like I do not expect the airlines to tell me what damage their flying does given the aviation fuel consumed.
Lets face it, little has been said of the fact that as a result of people buying less diesels, the CO2 emissions have RISEN here for the first time in many years – is that not a concern?
Whilst I cannot guess the motives of the individuals in this case, people should remember that ALL car use is polluting in one form or another, be they petrol, diesel or so called polluting free hybrid and electric – or so they say now!

I appreciate your loyalty to VW PJ but I find the idea of firms deliberately engineering to defeat pollution controls highly repugnant. It is very necessary that corporations, and especially the senior executives, are discouraged from these practices.

The question of efficiency or otherwise of cars is actually a separate issue from that of corporate crime.

If I had my way, those proven guilty of corporate crime should be removed from post and banned from holding any position of responsibility in future.

Having said that, I tend to agree with Peter that there are other equally dirty diesels, and some evidence that other manufacturers have been cheating.

The latest Which? news tells us “We’ve pulled together the emission and mpg results of every car we’ve tested since the start of 2017. And our results will surprise you. We’ve discovered diesel cars that produce fewer harmful NOx emissions than the average petrol car.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/08/which-tests-reveal-the-most-polluting-cars-and-the-most-economical-cars/ – Which?

So I expect that diesels will become even cleaner in future and still hold a place in personal transport. Just as important is their place in commercial transport – vans, lorries, trains, buses – and in plant and machinery, where they are likely to be with us for many years. Continuing development looks beneficial.

It would be useful to look at the role of diesel in hybrid cars, unless and until we get convenient electric range. Hybrid vehicles that use electric drive in populated areas, and conventional fuel out in the open using clean engines, seems the fairly near pragmatic solution. I am concerned about the huge resources necessary to produce the vast quantities of batteries that otherwise would be needed, and how they might be disposed of if we cannot find ways to usefully recycle them.

Martin Basil says:
17 September 2018

The UK Government is not treating this as fraud. Consumers purchase vehicles for a number of reasons such as low fuel consumption, company car drivers for low P11D, and lower road tax. There are in fact two frauds:
1. Consumers do do not get the financial benefit of lower fuel consumption.
2. UK Government taxes are lower than they should be so does not receive the correct level of tax income.

VW has focused on Nitrogen compound levels stating these are not regulated. This is diversion as the fuel consumption claims are false so this is still a fraud.
As a long term fan of VW Group cars it pains me that they have done this. However I am not a fan of Diesel so this does not affect me.
Other German companies (Bosch, and Siemens) have been doing something similar with energy levels on toasters, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, tumble driers etc.

I have refused the so-called “fix” for my Skoda Superb Estate 4×4 because of the horror stories I’ve read about, seen on TV and the lack of any guarantee that the fix will work. Would you trust VW’s word now? What p****s me off is that VW lied to us all and it appears our gutless government is happy to let them get away with it, despite all their “Green” propaganda and slavish support for all EU red tape. VW accepts that it lied and has paid compensation in other countries. It’s not a question of money to me — it’s the principal. This arrogant company thinks it can walk over British customers with impunity. I’m 72 and have run VW’s since I was 17. I currently run four cars. I will never contemplate buying another VW under any circumstances. Nor should any other British motorist. And I suggest we all ask our friends and family to avoid them as well. Hit VW where it hurts. Let’s slash their ill-gotten vast profits.

My Golf 1.6 TDI was eventually modified in July 2017 and I have not had any problems, Andrew. The letter I received either at the time or shortly after states: “Therefore Volkswagen confirms that if a customer makes a complaint to an Authorised Repairer or to the Volkswagen Group in respect of a failure of the EGR, fuel injection systems or emissions after treatment system within 24 months following the date of the implementation of the technical measures, in respect of a vehicle with mileage not exceeding 160,000 miles, Volkswagen would consider the complaint very carefully and if such complaint was established to have arisen as a result of the implementation of the technical measures, then Volkswagen will act responsibly and swiftly, in line with its goodwill policy, as supplemented in the annex, to respond in the consumers’ reasonable concerns.”

At the time the dealer said that they had to bring in two modified cars for further attention but there were generally no problems. I wanted mine modified as soon as possible to minimise the amount of excess pollution it was causing.

I’m driving my first diesel car, it’s a seat altea 1.6 tdi. I’ve had it for 29 months and am a short journey man. Shortly after I bought the car, I was invited to have the cheat software updated. Now, 5 months after seat’s 24 month problem period the car is showing signs of egr valve breakdown . And guess what, seat don’t want to know. Where do I go from here?