After people stripped down their 2.0-liter Volkswagen diesels before turning them in for the buyback, the court decided to add a ton of verbiage in the new 3.0-liter Volkswagen settlement to forbid such tomfoolery. Here’s everything it says people cannot do to their cars.
Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter Dieselgate settlement stated that, to be eligible for the buyback, a car had to be operable, a term defined as:
“Operable” means that a vehicle so described can be driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power. A vehicle is not Operable if it had a branded title of “Assembled,” “Dismantled,” “Flood,” “Junk,” “Rebuilt,” “Reconstructed,” or “Salvaged” as of September 18, 2015, and was acquired by any person or entity from a junkyard or salvaged after September 18, 2015.
So basically, the car just has to drive under its own power,and have a clean title. That’s about it. That overly-simple requirement led quite a few people to see if they could make a bit of extra cash by removing and selling valuable parts before dropping their cars off at the dealer.
We all remember the story of Joe Mayer, the Cincinnati car salesman who went ape-shit on his Golf before his appointment, much to the chagrin of the court. And then there was the guy who took the whole front fascia off his car, and a couple of others who turned in “less than aesthetically pleasing” TDIs.
Now VW’s 3.0-liter settlement is here, and the court—clearly tired of this bullshit—has made quite a few changes, namely to the definition of “operable.” The meaning of that word is now much more complex:
“Operable” means that a vehicle can be driven under its own 3.0-liter TDI engine power and is in reasonable condition such that it can be driven lawfully and safely on public roads, even if it has a mechanical issue that can be repaired, under a common-sense understanding of what is an acceptable condition for driving. A vehicle is not Operable if it had a Branded Title of Assembled, Dismantled, Flood, Junk, Rebuilt, Reconstructed, or Salvaged on or before September 18, 2015, and was acquired by any person or entity from a junkyard or salvage yard after September 18, 2015. Vehicles that (i) have undergone intentional physical or mechanical stripping or removal of any OEM equipment or parts accounted for in the Buyback Amount, including, but not limited to, removal of lights, wheel covers, navigation systems, or radios, or has been damaged, vandalized, or otherwise altered for no legitimate purpose in a manner that reduces the vehicle’s value as calculated in the Buyback Amount, prior to participation in the 3.0- liter Settlement Program, shall be deemed ineligible for the Buyback or eligible for reduced compensation.
It goes on:
For the avoidance of doubt, the following acts, among others, by Class Members may prevent the owner or lessee of a vehicle from obtaining some or all benefits under the Settlement: (a) removal of any OEM equipment or parts from a vehicle, (b) permanent alteration of the vehicle’s appearance, such as by painting, keying, or drawing, in a manner that negatively affects the vehicle’s resale value, and/or (c) modification of the vehicle’s components in a way that alters or affects the vehicle’s performance. The Claims Review Committee will be the final decision maker on whether (i) a vehicle is Operable, or (ii) whether a vehicle is ineligible, or eligible only for reduced compensation, by virtue of part-removal or other alteration.
Because if it’s not expressly forbidden, people will do it. The almighty dollar rules—that’s how the world works.