VW gets fix approval for 2.0 turbodiesel

VW was found to be using a computer program to defeat emissions tests

Published: June 3, 2016, 2:30 PM
Updated: June 8, 2016, 2:50 PM

2012 VW Passat TDI - Nameplate

Volkswagen has taken another step in “repairing” its diesel models caught up in the emissions-cheating scandal, with the approval by Germany’s motoring authority of another proposed solution for the 2.0 turbodiesel.

2013 Volkswagen EOS - Front 3/4 view

Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, has approved the technical fix for Passat, CC and Eos models equipped with the 2.0-litre TDI 4-cylinder engine. That’s an accepted solution to 800,000 of the 2.8 million total affected in the country. The company will proceed with mailings to owners to arrange service appointments.

Perhaps most important to owners is the assurances from KBA that the technical solutions will not affect the vehicle’s fuel consumption or performance, nor will it affect cabin noise levels. It also points out that all vehicles affected by the issue are roadworthy and safe to drive. The recall affects three engine sizes, with all expected to be remedied or in the works by the end of 2016.

The recall was initiated when a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that certain diesel VW models initiated a software program to activate certain emissions controls under testing, presumably in relation to the electronic stability control that is deactivated when a vehicle is emissions-tested on a dynamometer (because two of the wheels don’t turn on a dynamometer, the stability control program would interpret that as a sign that the vehicle might be in a slide). The program would result in testing showing certain emissions from the engine, that could actually be as much as 40 times worse when the “defeat device” wasn’t activated — i.e., in real world driving.

Volkswagen - 165 PP100 – Volkswagen and its affiliated brands, including Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Skoda, may be vying for world domination (it’s currently the second largest automaker behind Toyota), but in North America it’s still working to address some longstanding reliability issues. Over the past decade, Volkswagen vehicles have fared poorly in the J.D. Power dependability studies, often ranking among the bottom three or four brands – but its stock in trade is slowly rising.

Although that doesn’t create an immediate safety issue, environmental reports have indicated that as many as 59 premature deaths in the US could result due to the increase in air pollution and/or greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The issue affects 500,000 vehicles in the US, out of an estimated 11 million worldwide (in model years 2009 through 2015).

The “fix” varies between models and even in different parts of the world. For example, some engines can’t do with the software fix alone and require an change of fuel injection, air-intake and/or exhaust components. Some earlier VW models had used a Urea container to clean the exhaust air after passing a catalytic converter, but the system was phased out with the new generation diesels.