Frequently Asked Questions

What did Volkswagen do?vw1
The EPA and various state agencies have alleged that the German automaker installed illegal computer software on many of its diesel-engine vehicles to trick regulators into believing the cars were complying with emissions standards when they were in truth emitting between 10 and 40 times the number of harmful pollutants on the road.

How did VW cheat the system?
VW installed special computer software, known as a “defeat device,” on some 2009-2015 model diesel cars so they would appear to comply with the EPA and California emissions standards.  The “defeat device,” which can tell when a car is hooked up to an emission measuring device, known as a dynamometer, would activate the vehicle’s emission controls during testing, and then deactivate them in real-world driving.

How did the EPA and other regulators catch Volkswagen?
According to news sources, the International Council on Clean Transportation (“ICCT”) had studied European diesel cars and discovered that the on-road emissions of some models were notably higher than those measured in lab testing.

The California Air Resources Board and the EPA became aware of the discrepancies between lab tests and road tests for vehicle emissions and, according to media reports, opened an unpublicized investigation in May 2014.  When pressed to explain the differences between lab tests and road tests for vehicle emissions, the agencies found Volkswagen’s technical explanations unconvincing and refused to issue certificates for 2016 models to be sold.  According to the EPA, “Only then did VW admit it had designed and installed a defeat device in these vehicles.”

Is the Government pursuing criminal action?
It has been reported that the U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into Volkswagen’s actions.  The EPA’s own investigation is ongoing, and foreign regulators are expected to launch their own probes.  Robbins Geller is representing consumers who purchased or leased the affected vehicles, as well as Volkswagen dealers, in civil litigation.  Contact us for more information.

What vehicles are affected?
The cars covered by the expected recall were sold by Volkswagen and Audi between 2009 and 2015, and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine.

  • Jetta (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009 – 2014)
  • Beetle (MY 2012 – 2015)
  • Beetle Convertible (MY 2012 – 2015)
  • Golf (MY 2010 – 2015)
  • Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015)
  • Passat (MY 2012 – 2015)
  • Touareg (MY 2014)
  • Audi A1 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A3 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A4 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A5 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A6 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A6 Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi A8 Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi A8L Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi TT (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi Q3 (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi Q5 (MY 2009 – 2016)
  • Porsche Cayenne (MY 2015)

What should I expect if I own an affected Volkswagen diesel vehicle?
If you are the owner of an affected Volkswagen diesel vehicle, you will likely receive a recall notice in the near future.  This notice will come from Volkswagen.  It will provide you with information about the recall and with instructions about how to get your car repaired at no cost to you.

Will the EPA confiscate my vehicle?
The EPA has stated that it will not confiscate your vehicle or require you to stop driving.

Can the EPA require Volkswagen to recall these vehicles?
Yes.  The EPA has the authority under section 207 of the Clean Air Act to require a manufacturer to issue a recall when EPA determines that a substantial number of vehicles do not conform to EPA regulations.

Is the EPA officially requiring Volkswagen to issue a recall now?
No.  The EPA expects to compel VW to issue a recall in the future to reduce the emissions impacts of these vehicles.  Owners will be notified of that recall once Volkswagen and Audi have developed a remedial plan and the EPA has approved the plan.  Manufacturers are given a reasonable amount of time to develop a plan to complete the repairs, including both the repair procedure and manufacture of any needed parts.  Depending on the complexity of the repair and the lead time needed to obtain the necessary components, it could take up to one year to identify corrective actions, develop a recall plan, and issue recall notices.

Will I be required to have my vehicle repaired once it is recalled?
That depends.  Some states require proof that emissions recalls have been performed prior to issuing the vehicle registration.  Even in states that do not have this requirement, it is important to have emissions recalls performed because without the repairs, your vehicle may be emitting harmful pollutants in excess of the federal emission standards.  The EPA has confirmed that you will not be responsible for repair costs related to an emissions recall.

Can I turn off the defeat device?
No. The device is embedded in the software code that runs the engine control computer.

I live in an area that requires periodic emissions tests. What happens if my car fails?
It is unlikely that the presence of this device will cause your vehicle to fail.  In fact, the defeat device was specifically designed to ensure that vehicles would pass inspection.  The defeat device has been installed in the affected VW diesels since 2009.  To date, the EPA has no indication of any pattern failures with these vehicles during inspection and maintenance emission tests.

What pollutants are being emitted?
Vehicles emit an array of pollutants. EPA standards control the allowable emission levels of nitrogen oxides (“NOx”), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and certain toxic chemicals.  VW’s defeat device affects the way the NOx control system operates, resulting in higher NOx emission levels from these vehicles than from vehicles with properly operating emission controls.

How much more pollution is being emitted than should be?
NOx emission levels in the affected diesel models are 10 – 40 times higher than emission standards.

*  Information obtained from, among other sources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency