VW Previously Recalled Some Vehicles Over Emissions Standards

passatdieselgrabFive months before Volkswagen was ordered by federal regulators to recall nearly 500,000 sedans that equipped with software that tricked emissions tests, the company sent notices to some owners that their cars were in need of an “emissions service action.”

Reuters reports that in April 2015 the car manufacturer initiated a service action in California for some diesel-powered VW and Audi vehicles that were eventually part of the EPA’s unusual recall order issued on Sept. 18.

Owners who received the notices were told their model year 2010 to 2014 vehicles with 2-liter diesel engines needed to be brought to a dealer for a software upgrade to ensure emissions were “optimized and operating efficiently.”

VW said dealers would fix an issue in which the malfunction indicator light turned on, noting that if the light “illuminated for any reason, the vehicle will not pass an IM emissions inspection in some regions.”

The action was part of an Dec. 2014 agreement between the manufacturer, the EPA and the California Air Resources Board to fix what VW called a technical glitch. The recall eventually made its way across the entire U.S. in the following months.

While the letters didn’t explain that the action was part of VW’s efforts to quell regulator scrutiny over discrepancies in lab tests and real world emission levels for the vehicles, a spokesperson for CARB confirmed it was, Reuters reports.

“This is one of the fixes they presented to us as a potential solution,” CARB spokesperson Dave Clegern said. “It didn’t work.”

The EPA’s announcement of the ordered recall on Friday has set off a string of reactions from the car company and others.

Shortly after the recall was announced, our colleagues at Consumer Reports decided to suspend the “Recommended” ratings it had previously given the Passat diesel and Jetta diesel.

“These recommendations will be suspended until Consumer Reports can re-test these vehicles with a recall repair performed,” reads a statement from the publication. “Once the emissions systems are functioning properly, we will assess whether the repair has adversely affected performance or fuel economy.”

On Sunday, the carmaker announced it would stop the sale of all affected vehicle models until the issue was fixed.

And on Monday, it was rumored that the Department of Justice is considering bringing criminal charges against VW.

While last week’s recall of three VW clean diesel models and one Audi vehicle only affected around 500,000 cars in the U.S., Volkswagen revealed this Tuesday that the defeat device software was installed in around 11 million cars worldwide.

On Wednesday, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down amid the scandal, claiming he committed “no wrongdoing,” but noting that he took responsibility for the irregularities in the diesel vehicles.

 

VW owners who feel they were tricked into buying their car can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and may want to consider doing the same through their particular state’s attorney general’s office.

Those who really regret buying their VW and want to be rid of it now are free to try selling their recalled vehicle on the used car market.

Our colleagues at Consumer Reports point out that the California Air Resources Board will not take action against owners or their cars when it comes time to register or sell their Volkswagen diesel — at least for now.

Exclusive: VW recall letters in April warned of an emissions glitch [Reuters]