Login     

2017, Jan - Feb

Costly Mistake? 

By Fred Ortlip

Stripped 2010 TDI ‘isn’t in the spirit of the buyback’

Five days before Christmas, Joe Mayer got some unsettling news about turning in his 2010 Golf TDI as part of VW’s diesel emissions settlement. 

The dealer called to cancel his appointment, putting more than $15,000 in buyback value in question after Mayer had transformed the car into a carcass, stripping almost every part he could while keeping the Golf drivable. 

David Tracy, writing for the website jalopnik.com, broke the story about Mayer, a twenty-something car salesman and apparent gearhead who lives in Cincinnati.

Gone were doors, seats, hood, bumpers, hatch and most of the interior. Tracy reported that Mayer felt like he was on legal ground, quoting settlement terms that specify that the car has to be operable, that it is driven under its own power. When Mayer noted that the condition of the car didn’t affect the payout, he figured he could make some extra money by parting it out. 

He bought the stick-shift TDI just weeks before the scandal broke in September 2015 and licensed it shortly after with the personalized DSLGATE plate, short for “dieselgate.” 

Tracy reported that Mayer told him that he talked with three VW settlement reps over the phone, asking if his plan to disassemble the car would affect the buyout. They told him something to the effect, “I’m not telling you you’re allowed to, but the only thing required is that it’s drivable and operable” 

So off came air bags, doors, fenders, the engine cover, the shifter cover, bumpers, a bumper support, the radio, seats and interior trim pieces. He even removed the bezels for the AC vents, the center console, the hatch and more, Tracy reported.

 Mayer planned to replace the driver’s seat with a milk crate and remove the head- and tail lights within a block of the dealership. 

Tracy said Mayer called him an hour before his appointment with the VW dealer who postponed the buyback. A rep told Mayer that VW believes stripping the car “wasn’t in the spirit of the buyback.” 

Without addressing the Mayer case specifically, VW provided this statement to Tracy: 

“Volkswagen’s priority is to make the 2.0L TDI settlement process as seamless and convenient as possible for our affected customers and we are working hard to ensure that this is the case. The program is governed by specific eligibility guidelines and other conditions which were agreed by all the parties and approved by the Court.

“Subject to regulatory approval of modifications that will allow vehicles to meet agreed emissions standards, the settlement allows Volkswagen to modify some of the vehicles we buy back so they can be returned to commerce rather than scrapped. The great majority of Volkswagen owners take very good care of their vehicles and are returning them for buyback intact.” 

Mayer said the VW rep didn’t give him a time frame for a new appointment, instead emailing an attorney’s number to whom he should direct questions. He thinks VW reps are “just trying to bide some time,” and he expects them to get back to him once they have spoken with their lawyers, a move he fears is meant to find some way or another to get out of having to pay him, Tracy reported. 

On Dec. 22, USA Today reported that VW attorney Robert Giuffra told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who is overseeing the settlement, that “a handful of owners have brought in vehicles that have been regrettably, deliberately stripped of parts.”

Giuffra mentioned the story involving Mayer and pleaded to the judge that this behavior “goes too far. … They should not be engaging in deliberate parts stripping.”

Breyer responded: “I would echo that. … Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars. A word of caution is appropriate at this time.”

USA Today also reported that Jonathan Cohen, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, mentioned that the FTC is “absolutely against bad-faith behavior by consumers.” He went on to make clear, though, that VW can’t reject a vehicle based on its “superficial condition,” which USA Today infers to simply mean that normal wear and tear is allowable.

Tracy went the extra mile(s) on the story, driving from Detroit to Cincinnati to check out Mayer’s skeletal TDI. 

He wrote on jalopnik.com:

“The driveway was filled with two heavily modified Mazda Miatas and a tall stack of aftermarket wheels and tires. Joe, an avid Jalopnik reader, lives and breathes cars. So much so, in fact, that he didn’t adorn his Christmas tree with traditional decorations; he put up wrenches.

“I point this out because without knowledge of Joe’s automotive obsession, it’s hard to understand why he dismantled his VW Golf TDI. And I mean more than it being a theoretical loophole for his Dieselgate buyback, a loophole VW doesn’t seem keen on accepting. Indeed, over the past few days, hundreds of readers have spewed vitriol about Joe’s actions, saying he’s ‘petty,’ calling him a slew of nasty names, and saying what he did was a ‘dick move.’ But Joe says those people are getting him all wrong.”

Mayer said he didn’t strip the car to spite VW. He assumed the automaker was going to scrap the car eventually because it had not come up with an emissions fix and that the prospects of one were “slim.” He said the car had been in an accident before and assumed VW wouldn’t bother trying to sell it again anyway. 

Mayer said he would put the car back together if it came to that, adding, “I just wanted to see what would happen, and try to make some money off of it. I didn’t think I was doing anything so terrible.” 

Wearing ski goggles, Tracy took a turn behind the wheel of the winter-air-cooled bare-bones Golf and described the experience: “With no doors and no rear hatch, it felt like I was in a go-kart, cold wind blowing in my face, tons of visibility all the way around, and lots and lots of noises that closures and sound insulation were meant to hide.

“This car was a pure, raw driving experience. It was a simple manual transmission bolted to a loud, rattly diesel engine pulling around a big tub of metal with two grinning passengers inside having the times of their lives. How can you hate that?” VWCA

Fred Ortlip | vwautoist@mindspring.com

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

  • NEW SETTLEMENT:  Owners of 3.0-liter TDI models can now get in line for payback.
  • SAVE THE DATE: Planning commences for the 2017 VWCA Convention.
  • WHITHER THE TDI: An auction company may take the surge of VW diesel models.
  • INJECTOR INSERTS: How to remove and replace parts on early water-cooled models.

PLUS OUR REGULAR COLUMNS AND FEATURES:

  • Driver's Seat - VW news & views by Cliff Leppke
  • VolksWoman – Lois Grace
  • Frontdriver – Richard G. Van Treuren
  • Small Talk - VW and Audi news - quickly
  • Retro Autoist - From the archives
  • Parting Shot - Photo feature
  • Local Volks Scene - A snapshot of local chapter activities
  • VW Toon-ups - Cartoon feature by Tom Janiszewski

LOGGED-IN MEMBERS CAN SEE THE ENTIRE AUTOIST ISSUE BY CLICKING ON THE COVER PHOTO ABOVE.

 

 

Autoist Archive

Jul-Aug | 2017
Back To The Future Car

Cliff Leppke's 1983 Scirocco has notched its share of more than 333,000 miles in trips to Road America in Wisconsin. The latest covered about 3,000 miles during a whirlwind vacation excursion.

 

May-Jun | 2017
Swingin' time is in store for members, guests at 62nd annual Club gathering

Augustino's will get members rocking while the NIVA Club will roll out another lineup of VWs at its annual BugFest, part of the VWCA Convention in St. Charles, Ill.

 

Mar-May | 2017
Will VW See The Light?

VW once again evokes the memory of the beloved Microbus with its new concept called I.D. Buzz, which created quite a stir at the annual auto show in Detroit. (Photos by Tom Janiszewski)

 

Jan-Feb | 2017
Costly Mistake?

Joe Mayer says he's not out to punish VW over its diesel scandal - he just wanted to make some extra money on a car he thought would be junked. (Photos by Joe Mayer via jalopnik.com.)

 

Nov-Dec | 2016
WATTS OF FUN . . . . . . Meet the new e-Golf

Here's the car that, when you give it a charge, you'll get one back. In VW's first important pivot from its diesel scandal, the e-Golf provides an opening salvo in the carmaker's goal to electrify its fleet.

 

Sep-Oct | 2016
61st Annual Convention

What's an anniversary without a cake? This one didn't go far or last long as Club members enjoyed a variety of activities, including a Sunday car show and picnic, part of the 61st Annual Convention.

 

Jul-Aug | 2016
It's Time To Show Off

A couple of Karmann Ghias are resplendent at the Michigan Vintage VW Club's Festival in Ypsilanti, Mich.  The club held its 29th event in May, while Mid America Motorworks in Effingham, Ill., saluted the air-cooled crowd with a big show in June.

 

May-Jun | 2016
Windfall for TDI owners?

The scam was on as early as 2008, when this Candy White Jetta TDI Clean Diesel model, embellished with green plant matter, was rolled out.  In case anyone had a doubt, VW added the wording "Not a concept car."

 

Mar-Apr | 2016
Lost In Translation

VW CEO Mattias Mueller was in the hot glare of media lights at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, providing the company's latest response to the diesel emissions scandal.

 

Jan-Feb | 2016
VW's Game Plan

VW remains embroiled in a high-stakes game involving government agencies  and hundreds of thousands of owners of diesel models. The company's car on the road of Life has taken a big detour.

 

Nov-Dec | 2015
Engine with a split personality puts VW on the hot seat

The news in September was beyond belief for many VW and TDI enthusiasts: Volkswagen executives admitted that the company intentionally produced cars that violated clean-air laws.

 

Sep-Oct | 2015
Big bites of fun at the 60th VWCA Convention

Doug Narczewshi from Spring Valley, IL, looks over an assortment of water-cooled VWs on display at NIVA's Bug Fest event, part of the 60th VWCA Convention in suburban Chicago.

 

Jul-Aug | 2015
1969 Beetle gets a second chance to adorn the silver screen

Crew members working on the film "The Good Blonde" prepare for a shot on the California coast involving a 1969 Beetle owned by VWCA member and correspondent Lois Grace.

 

May-Jun | 2015
My Mom, the Daredevil

Around 1960, Cliff Leppke had no idea what was in store for him while being ferried about by his mother. Needless to say, his head was up and his eyes were open.

 

Mar-Apr | 2015
It's Show Time!

The Northeast Illinois Volkswagen Association has an activity-packed weekend planned for the 60th VWCA Convention in suburban Chicago.

 

Jan-Feb | 2015
Diesel Memories

Jack Pavie of suburban Philadelphia had to wait several months to get his 1975 Rabbit diesel, one of three models he enjoyed in the '70s and '80s.

 

Nov-Dec | 2014
Golf Lessons: Three new models charge up hatchback lineup

The scene at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va., where Cliff Leppke and other media members ran the 2015 Volkswagens through their paces.

 

Sep-Oct | 2014
Having fun with miles per gallon

A morning commute for a 2012 Golf TDI has become a test on how high the fuel mileage will end up. It hit a high mark in July.

 

Jul-Aug | 2014
2014 VWCA Convention: Wagons, wagens and more - where the buffalo roam

In the VWCA's 59 years of Conventions, the setting in Hudson, Mich. was unique. Just ask VWCA's Tom Janiszewski, the guy driving the orange 1974 Camper.

 

May-Jun | 2014
New Beetle milestone: Though this 1999 model has shown it's flaws over 15 years and 90,000 miles, it's been a blast to drive

May 25 marks the 15th anniversary of my family's New Beetle ownership experience. It was on that day in 1999 that we took delivery of a brand new red GLS model from Kempthorn Volkswagen in Canton, Ohio.

 

Mar-Apr | 2014
Dune buggy with a twist at the Detroit Auto Show

There's a saying that everything old is new again, and since the New Beetle's production debut in 1998, that has been the car's underlying theme.

 

Jan-Feb | 2014
Back At The Ranch

At northern California getaway, Vernon and his family found plenty of ways to enjoy life