There will always be those who try their best to find loopholes. Case in point are some Volkswagen TDI owners who deciding to strip their vehicles for parts before turning them into dealers. This came to light a couple of weeks ago on Jalopnik as it had found various threads on Reddit and TDI forums with such titles as “Will anyone be stripping salvaging parts before selling back?” and "Stripping the Turn-Ins". Why are there owners who are seriously considering this? It comes down to EPA's consent decree which states a vehicle must be 'operatable'. This is defined by the court as,
"“Operable” means that a vehicle so described can be driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power. A vehicle is not Operable if it had a branded title of “Assembled,” “Dismantled,” “Flood,” “Junk,” “Rebuilt,” “Reconstructed,” or “Salvaged” as of September 18, 2015, and was acquired by any person or entity from a junkyard or salvaged after September 18, 2015."
This definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation and some are taking that to mean it is ok to remove a number of parts. In fact, one Volkswagen TDI owner in Ohio basically removed almost everything on his Golf to see if Volkswagen would buy it back and was brought to light by Jalopnik last week.
But this loophole has been closed. USA Today reports that U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer warned owners last Thursday not to strip their vehicles. This was brought up by Volkswagen's attorney which referenced the Jalopnik story.
"Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars," Breyer said at the hearing.
Jonathan Cohen, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission told USA Today that the agency is "absolutely against bad-faith behavior by consumers" but also noted that VW cannot reject buybacks based on "the vehicle's superficial condition." (i.e. normal wear and tear).
Breyer said he would consider taking further action if needed at a later time.