/ Motoring

Big questions the Government needs to answer on VW

VW red logo

Seven months on since VW’s emissions scandal came to light, UK consumers are being left in the dark. So today I was in front of the Parliament’s Transport Select Committee and called on the Government to take urgent action.

It’s completely unacceptable that VW customers are still none the wiser on what the fix will be, what the impact will be on their car, and therefore whether they’re entitled to compensation.

Without this information, no one knows if they can bring a legal claim against VW.

Not only are our campaign supporters angry, VW customers feel conned.


Angry and rightly so

In our survey of Which? campaign supporters over the weekend, 94% of nearly 30,000 people told us that car manufacturers are not being fair to UK consumers. And three quarters of those said the Government must now take action against VW.

And they’re right too. During today’s Transport Select Committee, I pressed the Government to take urgent and immediate action.

Even though there has been further testing by the Government and VW, those impacted by the scandal are still none the wiser. Assuming it has the answers to our questions, the Government must stop sitting on any evidence that can help fully inform VW owners.

Important questions

Why won’t the Government publish the full results of all of its testing, for each vehicle, including the detailed methodology? Why won’t it reveal whether there are any discrepancies between their results and the manufacturers’ including whether any vehicles tested breached the lawful emissions limits?

Was the defeat device identified by the Government in the Skoda vehicle a prohibited defeat device and VW therefore broke the law?

What work has the Government done to verify the effectiveness of the fix to the VW defeat device and does it affect the performance, fuel economy or emissions of the vehicles?

These are all important questions, and are ones I pressed for the Secretary of State for Transport to answer.

Action from the Government

It’s been quite a different story in the US. The US Government acted quickly to hold VW to account. Yet in the UK progress to date has been woefully slow.

And separate to the legal debate about compensation claims, people simply cannot understand why VW has offered US consumers a goodwill payment whilst refusing to provide this for UK customers affected by the very same issue.

The Transport Secretary must now intervene and stand up for UK consumers. Are you with me?

Update 15 July – Transport Committee report

Following an inquiry into the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the Transport Select Committee today said Volkswagen has been deeply unfair to European customers by only offering significant compensation to US owners.

The report also criticises the Government for being far too slow to act, and says it should investigate and consider prosecuting Volkswagen for the use of defeat devices in its vehicles. The Committee has called upon the Department for Transport to ensure that car owners are not out of pocket in any way as a result of the emissions scandal or Volkswagen’s fixes to affected vehicles.

The report comes off the back of our calls for action from the UK government. Earlier in the year, Richard Lloyd called for the Government to stand up for UK consumers and take action when giving evidence to the Committee’s inquiry. He also shared findings from our investigations on fuel emissions and views from our affected supporters.

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP, today said:

‘Volkswagen Group has acted cynically to cheat emissions tests which exist solely to protect human health. Volkswagen’s evidence to us was just not credible but the Government has lacked the will to hold VW accountable for its actions. There is a real danger that VW will be able to get away with cheating emissions tests in Europe if regulators do not act.

‘Vehicle owners have been refused goodwill payments. That is despite VW inflicting a great deal of uncertainty on its own customers along with the prospect of declining residual values and the inconvenience of having to undergo repairs.’

Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns said:

‘Today’s findings from the Transport Committee echo what UK consumers have been saying since the scandal was first uncovered. VW drivers have been treated unfairly and the Department of Transport has not done enough to hold VW to account.

‘The lack of action sends a message that companies who employ underhand tactics can get away with it. The new Transport Secretary must urgently get to grips with this issue and ensure that UK customers are treated fairly.’

If you agree that the Transport Secretary must urgently take action, please sign our petition.

Comments
Alan Griffiths says:
13 April 2017

Our Seat 1.6 Auto diesel, had the software upgrade installed 6th March. Before the upgrade our car was a delight to drive, very smooth gear change, no problems at all, we where under the impression that we had to get the upgrade done by law because the letter Seat sent us had The Department for Transport logo on the top.
Now our car has been ruined, there are fumes inside the car,( I thought the window was down), the gear change (in the low gears) is now far from smooth, there is a rattle on the engine and the fans are comeing on a lot. I saw an article in The Guardian newspaper, a whistle blower an ex VW Service Manager said he would advise not to have the upgrade fitted, and if you have had it fitted to get it reversed and get the engine remapped. The Department for Transport has said the upgrade produces 3 time more diesel particulates, causing the EGR valve to clog up quicker, and it ruins the DPF filter, the former costs over 1000 pounds to change, the DPF filter is also very expensive. The VW group have on some occasions told the customer who’s EGR valves have been ruined by the fix they will only have to pay 10% of the repair cost. Seat are playing games with me, not contacting me when they say they will, left me on hold for half an hour, absolutely disgusting service. All I want is for the upgrade to be removed, Stoneacre Chesterfield say this is impossible, Iam now left with a car that is unreliable and could fail at any time, thanks to the upgrade.

Alan , thanks for your post and providing -IMHO significant information not previously posted on Which,s website I understand what you are saying and would like to hear from anybody in the industry who can either collaborate this information or provide a rebuttal but I will need the rebuttal to be in engineering terms of why they think Alan,s post is not correct, just saying no is not good enough, I want a detailed response.

Pete Stamp says:
29 June 2017

I received a letter yesterday (28/6/2017) from Skoda UK regarding EA189 NOx emissions service action.
I booked an appointment then belatedly did some research on line.

I have today cancelled the appointment after reading the feedback from other customers experiences on a couple of forums.
There are some real horror stories regarding performance; – ‘pinking’ at low rpm, worse fuel economy, poor torque, engine warning lights and DPF filter and EGR problems (both very expensive items).

I was asked by the garage in question to sign a letter declining the service action – which I declined to do until I do some more research.
Are there any other Skoda Fabia 1.6 litre owners with feedback on post service action (good or bad)?

BBC “Watchdog” programme last week (12/07/17) had stories about people having problems with their vehicles after having VW’s “service action”. Many complaints were about vehicles going into “limp-home” mode which can be quite worrying. Best advice seems to be to ignore the service action altogether.

RALFE says:
19 July 2017

Just had my Fabia 1.6 (105) done and I now suffer from the engine running on after ignition turn off.

The dealer also tried to force a ‘free’ safety inspection on me. Hey, I’ve had experience of that con before. I needed new tyres – they lasted another 12 months and I was told there was still some wear in them when replaced. Also told my brake discs were warped and it could become dangerous – frightening tactics or what. Still no brake disc symptoms and an independent check said ‘not to worry about it.’
I could have had all that work carried out for snip in excess of £500 – what a con!

Unless you have a juddering movement when the brakes are applied you dont have “warped ” discs or a gripping/releasing feeling Ralfe . While a car engine can run on due to many faults depending on whether its diesel or petrol as your only occurred when it was “re-tuned ” then it points to a timing fault in the ignition/fuel sequence . Dont go back to him get an independent garage,s advice and make sure its a reputable one.

Ralfe – Turning off the key on a diesel allows an electrically-operated valve to cut off the fuel supply and running on will be due to the valve sticking. It’s important to have the problem sorted out before you cannot stop the engine unless you stall it. This would be coincidence rather than related to the emissions modifications.

My Golf 1.6 had a safety check when the emissions modifications were done and I was told that the rear shock absorbers were weeping but they could be replaced when the car was serviced a couple of months later. I had the MOT done by an independent garage and asked them to look at the shock absorbers. There was no sign of leakage by then and my garage said that that the VW dealer had probably simulated leakage with the help of a couple of squirts of WD40. The ‘run out’ on your brakes may exceed normal limits without a problem being obvious, but I would follow Duncan’s advice and have an independent garage check the brakes.

John Howells says:
6 August 2017

Just had a letter from Director of Audi UK (A. Doyle). Says Audi will look after customers for 24 months if they have failures of the EGR, fuel injection or emissions following software changes (EA 189). This tells me VW already are seeing problems and VW / Audi are just covering their backs. It is about time they paid up as they have done in the USA. Our government is doing nothing as more environmental restrictions on diesel owners take place. My local Audi garage offered me a car cleaning kit as a ‘good will’ gesture. I refused it.