Everything you need to know about the diesel emissions claims

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

German car manufacturer, named Volkswagen installed emissions-cheating devices in many of their diesel models in 2015. This fooled testers into believing that their vehicles were low-polluting and safe for sale in the UK and abroad. Whereas, when this was revealed and retested the vehicles were then found to be extremely polluting.

What is the diesel emissions scandal?

Before they can be sold, all new vehicles must pass pollution tests. In 2014, testers discovered that several car manufacturers had installed software in their cars that tricked these tests. This is now known as the 'Diesel Emissions Scandal,' or 'Dieselgate.'

This software allegedly 'recognized' the conditions of the standardized testing and activated when it was taking place, adjusting the output of the car engine to emit fewer pollutants. When the cars were tested in real-world driving conditions without the software installed, many of the cars were found to emit significantly higher levels of pollution than usual when they were tested in real-world driving situations without the software installed on them.

When the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found differences between European and US vehicle models, the scandal was made public. Then, independent tests were conducted by the German automaker ADAC, which showed that many diesel vehicles that were entering the market, such as the Volvo S60, Renault's Espace Energy, and the Jeep Renegade, actually surpassed legal European emission levels for nitrogen oxide (NOx) by more than ten times under normal driving conditions.

When the fraud was discovered, the numerous automakers who had been using misleading software came under fire, as did the original testers for developing legal checks that were so easily manipulated.

Which cars are affected by dieselgate?

Volkswagen was the first car manufacturer whose Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engines were found to have been intentionally programmed to only activate their emissions controls during emissions testing. In fact, the controversy was first referred to as the "Volkswagen Emissions Scandal." The following VW models in the 2.0-liter diesel vehicle lineup have software installed that is designed to "beat" proper pollution testing.

  • Jetta (2009 – 2015)
  • Jetta Sportwagen (2009 – 2014)
  • Beetle (2013 – 2015)
  • Beetle Convertible (2013 – 2015)
  • Audi A3 (2010 – 2015)
  • Golf (2010 – 2015)
  • Golf Sportwagen (2015)
  • Passat (2012 – 2015)

The models that installed defeat devices 3.0-litre Volkswagen are as follows:

  • Volkswagen Touareg (2009 – 2016)
  • Porsche Cayenne (2013 – 2016)
  • Audi A6 Quattro (2014 – 2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattro (MY 2014 – 2016)
  • Audi A8 (2014 – 2016)
  • Audi A8L (2014 – 2016)
  • Audi Q5 (2014 – 2016)

VW pleaded guilty to the emissions scandal and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, in January 2017.

Things to consider before joining a claim

  1. Impossible for you to bring a claim like this on your own

If you tried to file a diesel claim yourself, the costs would probably dwarf any damages, plus you'd run the risk of having to pay the other side's legal fees. These are complicated legal proceedings that require technical expert analysis to establish facts.

  1. This is for vehicles made between 2007 and 2018 bought on finance or outright

In general, the current legal actions cover vehicles produced by roughly 20 brands from about 2007 until around 2018. You can register claims for multiple vehicles, but you shouldn't register the same car with multiple law firms. Future inclusion of additional manufacturers is a possibility; we'll keep an eye out for it and update this guide as soon as we learn more. Legal firms might consider you if:

  • You bought or leased the vehicle on finance.
  • You bought it new or second-hand, regardless of who you bought it from.
  • You no longer own the vehicle.
  • You plan to claim for a company car, provided the contract that was in your name.

If you purchased the vehicle outside of the UK, however, your claim WILL NOT be taken into consideration.

  1. Quickly and easily check if you can join a claim

If you decide to sign up, individuals can determine whether a law firm will acknowledge your claim by utilizing the straightforward, cost-free tools on their websites.

In order to enter the registration number for your car or van once you're on the company's website, you might be required to click onto the relevant page on the manufacturer of your vehicle. If it is one of the potentially impacted models, you will then be informed instantly.

  1. Signing up is free but still risky

You are not required to pay anything upfront to join any of them, but if you do and your claim is accepted, the law firm will receive between a third and half of the settlement.

You probably won't have to pay anything if your claim is rejected, but it's not out of the question. You might technically be responsible for the manufacturer's legal expenses if the manufacturer won the case in court. In reality, the law firm's "ATE" or "after the event" insurance would probably cover this, but the coverage would be capped and not infallible.

  1. Payouts might end up being £1,000s but compensation is NOT guaranteed

According to law firms, if the claims are successful, car owners may be entitled to compensation worth a total of several thousand pounds for non-compliant vehicles. Additionally, some businesses might try to entice you to sign up by offering you the chance to receive an even larger payout; as an example, the law firm Pogust Goodhead claims you might be eligible to receive up to £20,000 for a Mercedes.

  1. Claims could take up to five years or even longer

According to one of the participating law firms, it could take five years or more for cases of this nature to be resolved in court. For instance, the court first grouped the claims in the original VW Group case in May 2018, but the case wasn't scheduled to go to trial until January 2023; instead, a settlement was reached in May 2022.

  1. You've 14 days to withdraw penalty-free after that, you could have to pay legal costs

You have 14 days to suspend the contract with any of the businesses below without incurring any fees. During this time, you might want to go over any paperwork that was sent to you once you signed up for the firm's services. Make sure you read the fine print and are aware of what you have agreed to before you skip this.

Ask the law firm involved to explain any part of the agreement you've signed if you're unclear on it. And if you decide to change your mind, simply inform the company in writing that you want to cancel. You will not be charged anything if you complete the process within 14 days. But in some cases, if you join a claim and leave within the first 14 days.

However, depending on the terms and conditions of the firm and how far your case has advanced, you might be responsible for legal costs if you sign up for a claim and withdraw after the first 14 days.

Can you claim for diesel emissions yourself?

It would be absolutely unwise for individuals to take on one of the major automakers alone because the high legal costs would almost certainly outweigh the compensation. However, a number of UK law firms are currently litigating on behalf of drivers, so it would be a good idea to get in touch with one of these firms if you believe you are entitled to compensation.

You must select the best law firm to represent you because some firms will only work with particular car brands. The majority of these law firms will first ask you to complete a claims form, on which you must list the make and model of your vehicle as well as how the diesel emissions scandal has impacted you personally.

This article was written in cooperation with Edward G