David Ellingworth says his fuel economy has dropped since the software update. (ABC News: Meredith Griffiths)
Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal has taken another twist, with some drivers now saying the company’s software upgrade is causing problems with their cars.
- VW offered drivers a software update to after the dieselgate scandal in 2015
- Some VW owners say they have experienced a range of problems since the ‘fix’
- VW says testing has shown the software has no impact on fuel efficiency
More than 100 drivers have contacted the law firms running class actions against Volkswagen, complaining about a drop in fuel efficiency and performance after having the upgrade.
The software upgrade was implemented after revelations in 2015 that Volkswagen made cars, including 90,000 sold in Australia, that were fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.
The car company offered affected VW drivers in Australia a software upgrade in bid to rectify the issue.
The upgrade is the only compensation on offer to Australian customers.
Sydney driver David Ellingworth said his fuel consumption had increased by 15 per cent since he had the fix performed on his VW Amarok last year.
“Fuel economy for me has dropped right down,” he told the ABC.
“I used to fill up the tank once a month, now after the Volkswagen fix I’m filling up every two-and-a-half to three weeks.
“I am angry that the vehicle I purchased for a particular purpose is not giving me what I want, it annoys me because I can see more money coming out of my hip pocket which Volkswagen should be compensating me for.”
He is not alone. Pat Grbevska had the software upgrade three months ago on her 2011 VW Passat and said it has not been the same since.
“The fuel efficiency has decreased by 150 to 200km per diesel tank,” she told the ABC via email.
“The engine sounds like it is rattling, it is very noisy.
“The automatic gear changes are loud and noisy and the engine seems to overheat more often than it did.”
Some drivers of Audi and Skoda cars are also affected by the scandal.
Ian Bellion from Queensland took his 2014 Audi Quattro A4 to get the software fix about eight weeks ago.
“Straight after that service I could definitely notice a distinct lag in performance, its responsiveness off the line was reduced and the overall zippiness of the car is definitely less than it was,” he said.
Volkswagen, Audi deny problems with fix
Volkswagen told the ABC more than 20,000 Australian cars had received the software upgrade, and more than three million worldwide.
It says the software update was based on tests by authorities in Europe, as well as independent motorists organisations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
“They also certified that previous engine performance, maximum torque and previous noise emissions remain unchanged,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“We can find no record of contact by Mr Ellingworth so we cannot investigate, much less verify his claim.
“An array of factors — including fluctuating road and traffic conditions, driving style and environmental influences — affects the fuel consumption of all vehicles.
“Independent testing has shown that the upgrade has no negative effect on fuel consumption.”
An Audi spokeswoman also said it had confidence in the software fix.
“Our customer service team have not received any negative feedback from customers who have had the technical measure applied to their vehicle,” she said in a statement to the ABC.
Lawyers ‘inundated’ with concerns about fix
Volkswagen Australia is facing three court cases over the diesel emissions cheating scandal.
Maurice Blackburn lawyer Jason Geisker, who is running a class action, said more than 100 claimants had reported problems after the fix.
“We’ve been inundated with calls about concerns our clients have with the fix, a lot of the concerns relate to increased fuel usage,” he said.
“Other problems appear to be noise and performance issues.
“We have inquiries by day, and certainly over 100 so far, and we can’t advise clients to go forward with this recall work at this stage because we just don’t know enough about what the impact on the vehicle is.”
Diane Chapman from Bannister Law said her firm was receiving similar complaints.
“We are having a lot of people complain that the fix isn’t what they expected.
“People are worried that the value of their vehicles is not what it should be.”