Image art: Jason Torchinsky

According to USA Today, VW Diesel owners’ burning question “Can we strip our VW diesels before we turn them in for the buyback?” has officially been answered straight from the judge’s mouth: no.

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The news site says that today, at a status conference for the Volkswagen 2.0-liter “clean diesel” settlement, Volkswagen attorney Robert Giuffra told the judge “a handful of owners have brought in vehicles that have been regrettably, deliberately stripped of parts.”

Giuffra made mention of the story we broke about a Cincinnati man who stripped out “almost every part” including the airbags. Giuffra pleaded to the judge that this behavior “goes too far...they should not be engaging in deliberate parts stripping.”

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Judge Breyer of the U.S. District Court of Northern California, who has been presiding over all things Dieselgate since the beginning, addressed the issue, saying:

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.

That sounds a lot like the “spirit of the buyback” logic that VW told Joe Mayer after postponing his buyback appointment.

Judge Breyer went on, saying to VW owners:

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A word of caution is appropriate at the time.

USA Today also says attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, Jonathan Cohen, 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.

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The news site says Judge Breyer went on to threaten official action if the issue continues— presumably in the form of amendments to the Consent Decree with verbiage prohibiting stripping.

What this means for people like Joe Mayer from Cincinnati, who already stripped his car, is unclear.