If your VW was rigged, here’s what to do next

If yours is one of the Volkswagen cars caught up in the emissions scandal, Marina Gerner explains what steps you can take.

If you own one of the cars affected by the Volkswagen (VW) emissions testing scandal, you're probably rather irritated, to say the least. The fact that you bought one of the purportedly cleaner cars in the first place suggests that this was a selling point for you, so you'll be miffed that your car is more polluting than you expected. But not only that there's the possible impact on the resale value and the potential hassle of having to get it recalled and repaired. So what can you do if you're the owner of one of the 1.19 million cars affected in the UK?

Find out if your model is one bygoing to the VW, Skoda, SEAT orAudi websites and typing in your car's vehicle identification number (VIN) the site will tell you where to find it (usually your logbook or the windscreen). If it is, the first thing to note is that thecar is perfectly safe there's no reasonyou can't drive it.

VW's new chief executive, Matthias Mller, has announced that the recall will start from January next year, with the goal of fixing all cars by the end of 2016. A UK spokesman has said that VW will be contacting affected owners in due course. The specific fix will vary according to Martin Saarinen in AutoExpress, most will only need a software update, but some will need a hardware fix.

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Of course, the question is whether once fixed the performance of the cars will drop. The point of the "defeat device" software wasto impinge on performance inorder to allow the vehicles to pass in a testing environment. "Fixing" meansthat "the acceleration or the fuel consumption of the car is likely to be hit, or a mixture of both", says Mark Odellin the Financial Times.

VW hasn't discussed compensation yet (for pretty obvious legal reasons), but it's hard to imagine that there won't be some sortof recompense on offer, not least given that lawyers are smacking their lipsat the idea of testing new rules thatenable consumers to band together in "collective actions".

As for other effects, the price of used VW diesels has dipped, but this may not be a long-term issue nor much of an opportunity to bag a bargain. As Dylan Setterfield of CAP Black Book (a used-car dealer manual) tells the BBC, the last global recall involved Toyota/Lexus and while "this had serious safety implications, there was no discernible impact on used [car] values".

The government has said it will make sure that drivers don't end up paying higher tax bills as a result of the scandal, although if tax has been underpaid, as the BBC notes, governments may seek to recoup that money from the car company involved.

Marina has a PhD in globalisation and the media from the London School of Economics, where she worked as a teaching assistant on the MSc Global Media. In 2014 she was invited to be a visiting scholar at Columbia University's sociology department in New York.

She has written for the Economists’ Intelligent Life magazine, the Financial Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and Standpoint magazine in the UK; the New York Observer in the US; and die Bild and Frankfurter Rundschau in Germany. She is trilingual and lives in London.