VW emissions settlement to give owners choices

Tom Krisher
Associated Press

If the settlement with owners and government agencies is approved by a federal judge — which could happen as early as this fall — Volkswagen will spend up to $10 billion to either buy back or fix the cars and compensate owners for their trouble.

Here are answers to questions about the deal, which is the largest class-action settlement in the history of the American auto industry:

Q. What exactly am I getting from VW?

A. You can choose. VW will buy back your car — regardless of its condition — at the National Automobile Dealers Association clean trade-in price before the cheating was made public on Sept. 18, 2015. Or the company will fix your car. The fix has not been determined and still must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. VW is expected to submit possible fixes beginning in November.

In either case, if you owned the car on or before Sept. 18, VW will pay you $5,100 to $10,000 for your trouble, depending on the age of the car and whether you owned it on or before Sept. 18. Buybacks will begin this fall if the settlement is approved. Owners will have until Sept. 1, 2018 to make a decision.

You’ll get bigger payments for your trouble if you owned your car on or before Sept. 18, 2015. The payments are smaller if you bought it after that. VW also will buy out your lease if your vehicle was leased through Volkswagen Credit.

Q. How much are these cars worth?

A. Owners will get $12,500 to $44,000, depending on the model, age, mileage and options on their car.

Q. Should I take the buyback or the fix?

A. From a financial standpoint, it’s probably better to wait. You have until Sept. 1, 2018 to seek a buyback. So you can drive the car for more than two years without penalty, as long as you don’t go over 12,500 miles per year. You’ll still get the clean trade-in value from before the scandal was made public. Also, fixes are not ready and may not be submitted by VW until at least November. Then they have to be tested and approved by government regulators. Repairs could hurt mileage or performance. And if you keep driving, you’ll continue to pollute the air.

Q. Can I just keep my car without getting it fixed?

A. You could, but eventually you would violate the Clean Air Act by spewing too much nitrogen oxide. In states that have pollution tests, you run the risk of being caught.

Q. Will attorney fees take all of my payments like they do in many class-action lawsuits?

A. No. They are not included in the settlement and will be negotiated later with VW.

Q. I own a 3-liter V6 Volkswagen. what happens to me?

A. That’s still being worked out by all the attorneys. You are not covered by the package announced Tuesday.

Q. Where can I learn more about the settlement?

A. The official settlement website is https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com .