Why am I trading in the TDI?

If you asked me if the TDI would ever be traded or sold, I would have said no. I planned to keep that car for 15+ years, as long as it would last. The car ran strong and it produced solid fuel economy. Couple this with the torque of diesel and a manual transmission; this car is fairly fun to drive. I’ve driven it across the country twice, it’s been with me through numerous states spanning 49k miles, I was attached to the car. Four doors meant plenty of room for passengers and a spacious trunk for cargo. It’s everything I needed in a vehicle.

September 18, 2015. This was a typical Friday at work. Nothing major that I can recall, but the future of the TDI was brought to question when the EPA announced the mandatory recall of 2009-2015 Volkswagen TDI cars. This was due to a “cheat device” that Volkswagen would later admit is present in the cars.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. I am not in the automotive industry. I don’t have any fancy environment or science degrees. I’m just a regular guy that enjoys to drive. With that said, I wasn’t very concerned about the announcement by the EPA. It’s my personal belief that the situation was blown out of proportion. I also believe that diesel is cleaner than gasoline and an obvious choice in the current energy market versus electric/hybrid. YMMV, not all circumstances are the same and if you have a differing opinion, congratulations.

As I considered the pros and cons of keeping the TDI, I began to notice all the little issues. A squeak here, a rattle there, the infotainment screen being on the small side. You know how it goes, the hype was building on the idea of a new(er) car. When I bought the TDI, I didn’t shop around much. I knew that I wanted a diesel Volkswagen and that was that. Now the idea of keeping that car for the long haul was tainted, I looked at the market as a whole to determine replacement options. I wasn’t sure that diesel would be an option this time around based on limited availability.

Even after looking at everything on the market, none of the options were calling to me like the TDI did. I loved everything about the way the car looked, felt, and drove. This was turning into a difficult decision and I was starting to feel like keeping the TDI would be the best option. At this point, preliminary buyback amounts were being calculated and once the announcement was final, the number was hard to pass up. Sure, it could have been more, but it’s hard to complain at the end of the day as this car will end up being one of the cheapest to operate vehicles I’ve ever owned by far.

The money was an attractive option and to compound the issue is the fact that payments for restitution were not enough in comparison to the value of the buyback. The choice was made and I didn’t like any of the replacement options. Then I discovered the BMW F30 diesel and after researching the options, everything was able to fall into place rather quickly. I’ll be sad to see the TDI go, it’s been an amazing car, but it’s time to move to the next great thing.

Day Zero: Part 3

When the emissions scandal news first broke, I was insistent on keeping the car. I didn’t have any real issues with the car; I had driven 47k trouble free miles, though there had been some annoyances. The car rattled at certain RPM ranges and music could also cause some door panel rattles. The car interior was starting to feel cheap somehow. The lack of a backup camera option when I ordered was unfortunate. The build date excluded my car from a mid year refresh where the TDI could be ordered with a rear camera, receive a soft touch dash upgrade, and a full sized in dash display unit. There was no option of a retrofit without a cash payment to the VW parts desk and some sweat equity.

As time moved on, I started to wonder if keeping the car would be the best plan of action. If I keep this car, how tough will it be to get replacement parts when it breaks? How many of these will be left on the road? How will a potential fix, if one is approved, affect the vehicle as it sits now. Will the fuel economy tank? Will the retrofit parts cause other issues down the road? Will there still be aftermarket support if the platform is dead?

I felt like these factors were not part of the original decision and that they do add some variables that I was unhappy with. Couple these variables with the lack of a few features and other minor “cosmetic” issues and I was ready to bail on the TDI platform.

A new search began. If I’m buying a new car, let’s get serious about finding exactly what I want for the long term. The Jetta had been nice and I still love the styling of the car with the aero kit options mine has, but my options were confined to very few choices due to the diesel checkbox. I made a list of goals for the car. Reasonable fuel economy, sporty styling, enough power/torque to “feel fast”, nice technology features, LED/HID headlights. The list went on and on. The elephant in the room couldn’t be ignored, I also had to set a budget.

Here is where the conflict begins. Historically, I’ve been a car guy. At the end of high school, I got into DSM’s. I bought a Silver 1998 Eclipse as a “winter beater”. After doing some research on the platform, I discovered the turbo AWD GSX. I instantly fell in love with the first generation styling of the Eclipse and bought one later that year. I began to spend money on the car, it became an addiction. I can’t say I ever went “fast”, but I loved every minute of getting to know that car. My life revolved around the DSM culture. The car was torn down for some necessary go fast parts and the deeper I got in, the worse it got. Before I knew it, my two car double sized garage was covered in parts for the car, old and new alike. A thin layer of dust had collected on the body panels and anytime I got the itch to work on the car, I walked into the garage and was instantly turned off to the idea.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

Judge Approves VW TDI Settlement

This is an excerpt from CNBC, originally written by Patrick T. Fallon.

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday approved Volkswagen’s record-setting $14.7 billion settlement with regulators and owners of 475,000 polluting diesel vehicles, and the German automaker said it would begin buying back the vehicles in mid-November.

The action by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco marked the latest development in a scandal that has rocked VW since it admitted in September 2015 using secret software in its diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they really were.

Under the settlement, Volkswagen agreed to spend up to $10.033 billion on the buybacks and owner compensation and $4.7 billion on programs to offset excess emissions and boost zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and other clean vehicle projects.

The affected vehicles emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution levels. Volkswagen may also be allowed to repair vehicles if regulators approve fixes.

In total, Volkswagen has agreed to date to spend up to $16.5 billion in connection with the diesel emissions scandal, including payments to dealers, states and attorneys for owners. The scandal rattled VW’s global business, harmed its reputation and prompted the ouster of its CEO.

The world’s second-largest automaker still faces billions more in costs to address 85,000 polluting 3.0 liter vehicles and U.S. Justice Department fines for violating clean air laws. It also faces lawsuits from at least 16 U.S. states for additional claims that could hike the company’s overall costs.

Finally, some progress on this buy back. We’ll see how much longer everyone will have to wait.

Day Zero: Part 2

Now we wait; I was told that the wait would be anywhere from 30-60 days. The following two months were a wave of internet research. I consumed as much information as I possibly could. I registered to any and every forum with any semblance of connection to the TDI. I must have looked through google images for hours on end, considering the options, planning for what was to come. I was boiling over with excitement, the days passing like they did when I was younger and waiting for Christmas morning. My truck was amazing, make no mistake, but I was ready to cut back on transportation expenses.

Throughout the process, my sales rep would provide updates via email. The updates were lacking but I tried to ignore it, understanding how long communication chains are in an operation like auto manufacturing. The end of December finally arrived and I call the dealership. After seemingly fifteen minutes on hold, they find out that the order was “pending” at the factory and that the order for the car had never been accepted.

Simply put, “My Car” didn’t exist and hadn’t been started at the 60 day mark in the sales cycle. I was disappointed. The dealership began to scramble. A few hours later, the dealer calls. My rep did some digging and found a car with the same spec as my order on a container ship that was due to arrive any day. The dealer put in a request for this car and was accepted; Finally making some progress.

January 13, 2013 I received the call. I could barely contain my excitement. This was the first car I had ever purchased brand new for myself. I had been driving every sort of beater until the Duramax and was excited to have a piece of the new car smell for myself. I pop into the dealership and handle the paperwork. Per the usual, my arm was cramped from signing away all the documents that go with a purchase such as this.

Part of the agreement that I made with myself in order to bear the expense of depreciation on a new vehicle was the intention to keep this car for 10 years plus. If I could keep the car for an extended period of time, buying new should/would balance out over the long term. I also expected the diesel to have a longer life cycle than the gasoline equivalent and see higher fuel economy in the process. These factors sold me on the idea of spending the extra money at the time and I was happy with the decision. I was also a diesel fanboy, couldn’t help it. The raw power and torque that the truck could put down sold me on the diesel platform.

Stay tuned for Part 3!