Photo: Michael Probst/AP

This week was a landmark one for owners of the nearly 500,000 Volkswagen 2.0-liter diesel cars affected by the Dieselgate emissions fiasco, as U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted preliminary approval of VW’s settlement with regulators over the emissions-cheating vehicles. With that complete, VW has now rolled out a website for TDI owners to start filing their claims.

After the Department of Justice announced VW’s unprecedented $14.7 billion settlement last month, all TDI owners could do was run some calculations to figure out how much money they could expect from VW.

But with the preliminary approval granted on Tuesday, Volkswagen can now start gathering information from TDI owners to start the claims process for either a buyback or a fix if they want to keep their cars—a process that includes an automated version of the overly-complicated tables from our VW buyback calculation article.

It’s actually a fairly straightforward process; here’s how it works.

1. Go To www.vwcourtsettlement.com

This website isn’t actually the site where you start filing your claim, it’s just a way to get to the claims portal. Once you’re on the site, you start by skipping down to the “Check My Eligibility & Access Online Portal” section and answering the two questions:

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Once you press “Check Eligibility,” and the software determines that you’re eligible for a buyback or modification, you’ll be prompted to click a link to the Online Claims Portal:

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2. Create An Account On Volkswagen’s Portal

The “Online Claims Portal” link will send you to VW’s claims portal at https://claims.vwgoa.com/, welcoming you with this screen:

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If you click “register,” you’ll be prompted for your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, which you can find either on your car’s registration, title, the side of your driver’s door, or at the base of your windshield on the driver’s side.

Once you’ve plugged your VIN in, click “submit,” and the website will recognize your vehicle. Click “yes” if the vehicle stated on the screen is your car.

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Then you’ll be asked to type in your email address and a password to create an account.

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You’ll have to fill in three security passwords in case you forget your password and need a way back in.

Then you’ll review your inputs and click “submit.” (Note that on the image below, the bottom half of the page is not shown in order to hide personal information).

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And finally, you’ll get a confirmation via email that you’ve created an account on the VW Group of America Online Claims site. Once you’ve received that email, shown below, click the link on the second line:

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That link will send you to the login page, where you’ll input your email and the password you just created.

3. Complete Your VWGoA Profile

Once you’ve signed in with the new VWGoA account, you’ll be prompted to complete four sections to complete your profile: “Vehicle,” “Personal Information,” “Dealer” and “Review.”

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Vehicle

In the “Vehicle” section, you’ll be asked to simply give your car a nickname:

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Personal Information

The “Personal Information” section will ask whether the car is registered to a business, whether you’re filing the claim for someone else, and who the registered owners are.

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Then, on that same page, you’ll be asked for contact information and the address tied to the vehicle registration.

Dealer

The next section, entitled “Dealer,” will ask you to plug in your zip code and click “search.” That will populate a table below showing your nearest dealerships.

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Then you can choose the one you prefer, and press “select.”

This is the dealer you would take your car to for a buyback or modification, though you can change the preference later.

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Review

Finally, you can review the three previous sections and submit.

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4. Complete The “Understand Your Options” Sections

The next section, called “Understand Your Options,” will start asking you more in-depth questions about your car, financing, mileage, and your buyback or modification options.

Ownership

The “Ownership” section asks you for the date of purchase or lease, as well as a couple other basic questions:

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Financing

I don’t have a screenshot of the “financing” section, but VW’s claims support representatives told me it likely applies to people who checked “I own this vehicle. There is an outstanding loan attached to the title I make payments on.”

Since the buyback calculated by the software subtracts what owners still owe on the vehicle, this section most likely asks for information on the bank or institution on the lien as well as the amount still owed.

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Vehicle

The “vehicle” section asks for the odometer reading, which will be used to calculate the mileage adjustment in VW’s payment calculation.

The section also asks whether the car has been totaled, if it was obtained from a junkyard, and whether the car drives under its own power.

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Your Options

Finally, the software spits out your two options, along with how much you can expect to receive from VW.

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At the top of the page, a disclaimer makes it clear that this form isn’t technically a completed claim until the court has approved the final settlement, which VW’s Claim’s support representative told me would—hopefully—be sometime in October.

Then, in the middle of the page is the buyback option, broken down into the September 2015 NADA vehicle value and the restitution payment.

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The bottom of the page shows the estimated restitution payment if you chose the “Emissions Modification & Extended Emissions Warranty,” which has yet to be approved by the EPA and CARB.

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Review

Once you’ve clicked the bullet indicating which of the options you’d like to choose (you can always change this option later), you’re taken to the “review” page, where you’ll take a look at all your previous inputs before submitting everything.

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So Now What?

VW’s claims reps said they would start officially facilitating buybacks once final approval goes through, and USA Today says ““Final approval of the class-action lawsuit settlement could come at a hearing Oct. 18, at which point compensation could begin immediately.”

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The earliest you can input for “tentative return date” in the application is November 1st. But to expect hundreds of thousands of VWs to be processed all on Oct. 18th is farfetched, as VW dealerships likely don’t have the capacity to handle all these buybacks at the same time. Owners will probably have to give it some time.

If you have questions on this process, VW’s claims representatives at 1-844-98-CLAIM proved very helpful.

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h/t: Mark and Cas