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VW Makes $1,000 Goodwill Offer to Diesel Owners

13_VW_Beetle_TDI_ES_2.jpg Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Volkswagen announced today it would make a $1,000 goodwill offer to owners of diesel four-cylinder cars affected by the automaker’s ongoing emission crisis. It’s in the form of a $500 Visa prepaid card and a $500 dealership credit that can be spent on service, products or the owner’s next car. VW and Audi will also extend the roadside-assistance package for each vehicle by three years.

Related: More on the Volkswagen Diesel Crisis

Volkswagen issued letters and emails to customers and dealerships earlier today, spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan told Cars.com. Eligible owners have a 2009-15 diesel four-cylinder Volkswagen or Audi vehicle. The offer comes ahead of a long-term fix for the cars, which have illegal software that evades emissions testing.

If you have one of these cars, here’s what you need to know.

Which cars are eligible?

You’re eligible for the goodwill offer if you own any of the following:

  • 2009-15 Jetta TDI, including the Jetta SportWagen TDI
  • 2012-15 Beetle TDI
  • 2012-15 Passat TDI
  • 2010-15 Golf TDI, including the Golf SportWagen TDI
  • 2010-13 or 2015 Audi A3 TDI (Audi is one of the VW Group’s brands; the A3 skipped the 2014 model year.)

What about the Touareg TDI or other Audi TDIs?

Volkswagen and Audi are not extending the offer to owners with the automaker’s 3.0-liter V-6 diesel vehicles, Audi spokesman Brad Stertz said. That includes the Touareg TDI and five Audi models. The EPA alleged on Nov. 2 that many of those cars also have emissions-cheating software, a claim VW disputes.

What do I have to do to get the offer?

Volkswagen owners can go to vwdieselinfo.com, and Audi owners can visit audiusa.com/about/diesel-information. You’ll have to input your car’s vehicle identification number and provide contact information and vehicle mileage. Volkswagen will then mail you what it calls a “goodwill package,” which should arrive in about four weeks. Bring it to the dealership to activate the prepaid Visa gift card, roadside-assistance policy and dealership loyalty card.

As of Monday, VW’s diesel-info website had details on the goodwill packages. Audi’s consumer site did not, but Stertz said Audi will provide the information on Friday “to stagger this out to make sure it’s as smooth as possible.”

Why do I have to go to the dealership to activate the card?

It deters fraud, as anyone could gather VINs online and submit them. To activate the card, owners need to bring their driver’s license, proof of ownership and the car itself to the dealer.

“It’s similar to when you go to the grocery store and buy a Visa prepaid card, you swipe it and you activate it,” Ginivan said.

Stertz added that Audi and Volkswagen “also want to make sure we can get the customers in [and] get a look at their car. We want to be able to make contact with them and make sure they’re handled right.”

What constitutes proof of ownership?

Your vehicle’s registration, title or a lease agreement to the dealer, according to VW.

How do I figure out my car’s vehicle identification number?

It’s etched at the bottom of your windshield under the glass on the driver’s side, visible from outside the car. Your auto insurer should also have it.

For the roadside-assistance extension, what if I already purchased a longer policy?

Ginivan said the extension adds three years to whatever policy you currently have, whether it’s a standard or extended policy.

What’s the $500 dealer credit good for?

Stertz said the dealer credit is good for anything at a VW or Audi dealership, from branded merchandise to an oil change or a credit off your next car. It goes “on top of anything else – any other rebates or loyalty offers out there,” he said.

If I take the $1,000, will I be ineligible for any future compensation or vehicle fix?

No. The offer “does nothing to affect the remedy that’s decided with the regulators in the long run,” Stertz said. “Whatever remedy with the cars themselves that we agree to with EPA and CARB [California Air Resources Board], this has no bearing on that fix.”

The offer also has “no bearing” on any class-action lawsuits against VW, he added.

When I registered, I still found language in the fine print that suggests a release of claims. Does that affect the emissions remedy?

No. Owners might see language in the Visa prepaid card agreement that indicates a release of claims, but “that is in regards to the bank card only,” Ginivan said. “It is in no way related to the emission claims.”

Am I getting this because Audi and VW can’t figure out how to fix the cars?

There’s no indication of that. Michael Horn, president of VW’s U.S. arm, told Congress in October that the automaker will issue fixes for the three generations of diesel engines beginning in early 2016. That’s still the situation, Stertz said.

Today’s announcement is “not [to indicate] that we’re expecting anything pushed off another year,” in terms of a fix, he said. “We just want to keep people aware that we are working on this.”

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