News - Volkswagen
Customers can refuse VW emission fix
OK computer: The so-called 23R7 Engine Control Unit campaign is already being executed on Volkswagen Amarok vehicles, to resolve the widely publicised emissions test defeat device.
VW emissions software updated in scheduled maintenance but owners can opt out
4 March 2016
AFTER months of waiting for a remedy to the global Volkswagen Group emissions
test-cheating engine management software, the first Australian customers are
starting to receive recall notices for affected vehicles – but are not obliged
to have the work completed.
The software code in question – dubbed a defeat device by authorities – was
discovered last year after independently tested Volkswagen models were found to
emit up to 40 times the legal level of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the United
However, some customers have voiced concerns that winding back the NOx taps
will also affect fuel consumption and performance, so may not want the remedial
work carried out.
Volkswagen Group Australia public relations manager Kurt McGuiness told GoAuto
that customers would experience no adverse effects to performance or efficiency
with the update, but owners of impacted 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesel models
have the option to skip the recall if they choose.
“The customer still has the right to say, ‘I don’t want it done’ and they can
talk to the dealer about it, but as far as we can see there is no reason to not
have it carried out,” he said. “But it is the customer’s car.”
However, Mr McGuiness said the recall would effectively be refused by default,
if a vehicle was never taken to an authorised Volkswagen dealership.
“Theoretically – there's no difference between that and not bringing your car
back in. That's true of any recall.”
As previously reported, customers are being asked to wait until they have
received their letter before booking a recall appointment, but GoAuto has
learnt of customer vehicles already being updated during other service bookings.
In some cases, customers may not have been fully informed of the required
recall work before the Field Campaign 23R7 – Engine Control Unit (NOx) changes
were made to their car.
Mr McGuiness explained that any recall work, including the emissions software
fix, was normally completed automatically – but that service advisors were
supposed to inform customers if their vehicle needed the recall in addition to
any service and repair work.
“We are bringing our dealers up to speed in terms of the process for this one
given how extraordinary it is,” he said.
“If a car gets brought in for any other work then the dealer is obliged to say,
‘your car has a recall on it and we are going to do the work’ because
theoretically, the customer has the right to more or less opt out if they want.”
Mr McGuiness added that in extreme cases customers may be legally obliged to
comply with a recall.
“Having said that, this is a recall and the government has the right – as with
any recall – to order customers to bring their cars in. I’ve never heard of it
happening but it is within the government’s power to say this car is subject to
a recall, you've failed to bring it in so you need to have the work carried
Such severe measures are unlikely to be initiated by the Australian government,
particularly as the recall is not regarding a safety defect, and only impacts
environmental air quality.
As with almost all modern service activities, a vehicle is first connected to a
diagnostics system, and Mr McGuiness explained that if a Volkswagen model is
due for a software update, the process is very simple while other work is being
“It’s the same with a service campaign. If the car is plugged into the system
and the system says an item is outstanding for this car, the dealer is required
to take the correct action.”
One Volkswagen customer told GoAuto that their 2011 Amarok had been updated
with the remedial software while the vehicle was in for scheduled maintenance,
without a full explanation of the work.
However, the customer had experienced no initial detrimental effects and
reported the engine operation as “smoother” following the service, although it
was too early to tell if fuel consumption had changed.
Volkswagen’s Amarok one-tonne ute is the first model to be offered for the
update with no mechanical attention required, and Mr McGuiness said the company
would gradually roll out individual recalls for each of the effected models.
“The plan is, from a global perspective as well as Australia, we are rolling
this out model-by-model,” he explained.
“With the number of engines, variants and models around the world, it makes a
lot of sense to be rolling though in a systematic way.”