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Selling or Trading in Your Volkswagen Diesel: What You Need to Know

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2015

If you have a diesel-powered Volkswagen, you might be wondering whether you should keep it, sell it or trade it in in the wake of the recent scandal where the automaker was discovered to be cheating on Enviromental Protection Agency emissions tests. Before you make any big decisions about what to do with your Volkswagen diesel though, consider our tips, which may help you make a smarter choice.

Should I Sell Now? Are Values Affected?

Although it's hard to say for sure -- and it can depend on whether or not you find the right buyer -- it seems that values for some Volkswagen diesel models are indeed affected by the automaker's recent emissions scandal. This is largely because the question of what's going to happen to these vehicles is still up in the air. Some dealers, or even private buyers, won't want to purchase them for fear of being stuck with a car that can't be immediately resold, or one that may soon be fixed with an accompanying loss of engine power or a decrease in fuel economy (even this is a guess as we just don't know what the fix will look like).

As a result, we think you shouldn't sell your Volkswagen diesel right away if you can avoid it. Instead, we think you should probably hold on to your TDI until Volkswagen announces exactly how they plan to fix the emissions issue -- an announcement that is likely to come within the next year, and possibly even within the next few months. If the automaker's fix isn't particularly serious, we suspect values will go back up to where they were before the scandal began. If the automaker's fix is serious, we think values are unlikely to drop even more. Volkswagen might even offer additional money to compensate current TDI owners.

Are Dealers Accepting Diesel Volkswagens As Trade-Ins?

Legally, dealers can still accept diesel-powered Volkswagen models as trade-ins -- although, as we mentioned above, some dealers may not want to. What's more, some dealers may offer a lower trade-in figure than they would've just a few weeks ago due to the uncertainty of what's going to happen to Volkswagen diesels once the fix is announced. For that reason, we advise you not to trade in your Volkswagen unless you really have to.

With that said, some dealers and automakers are offering big incentives to owners of affected diesel-powered Volkswagen models if they want to swap out their vehicle for something new. In fact, Volkswagen itself has some good deals currently available, touting up to $4,000 cash back on certain models if VW customers remain loyal to the automaker when trading in their current vehicle for something new.

Can I Sell It Privately?

Legally, diesel-powered Volkswagen models affected by the scandal can still be sold privately to new buyers. In other words: If you have your Volkswagen on Autotrader and you're trying to sell it, don't worry about legal hassles with the DMV or the state emissions-testing facilities when completing the sale. However, prepare yourself for low offers, as some car shoppers see "diesel" and "Volkswagen" as a way to get a great deal right now on a fuel-efficient car.

Our Take

Unfortunately, Volkswagen's recent scandal appears to be affecting the values of some of its diesel-powered models. If you own one and you'd like to get rid of it, we instead suggest riding out the storm to see exactly what fix Volkswagen plans to implement. If you absolutely must sell your VW, consider trading it in at a dealer or automaker who is offering an attractive incentive so you can get some benefit out of your scandal-affected TDI.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Selling or Trading in Your Volkswagen Diesel: What You Need to Know - Autotrader