I Need to Come Clean

IMG_1589Dang! There it is. 100,000 miles. Right there. On the odometer. Staring me straight in the face, as I pulled into the garage last night. A major milestone that came precisely two years and one month since the day I drove it off the lot. A moment also worth noting, because it just happened to coincide with the painful news that Volkswagen had rigged emissions tests in 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2009. And since my car was one of them, I wasn’t exactly seeing this point in our relationship as a cause for celebration.

Yes, I drive a Volkswagen. And yes, it’s a diesel. A 2013 Golf TDI, to be exact. There, I’ve come clean. Well, not quite. Because apparently, it’s not the “clean” diesel I thought I’d bought. Turns out it may not produce 90% fewer sooty emissions than former diesel engines or 20 percent fewer carbon emissions than gasoline engines after all. According to EPA regulators, VW rigged engine management software in certain diesel cars to turn on emission controls only when being tested in order to pass strict environmental standards tests. On the road, those cars would emit up to 40 times more harmful pollutants. And there’s a very good chance my car is one of them.

So as I sat there ogling the odometer in disbelief, I wasn’t congratulating myself for surviving two back-to-back 50,000-mile years. I wasn’t rocking out to the top hits on my premium Dynaudio sound system. I wasn’t high-fiving the leather-wrapped steering wheel of my faithful friend, the car that had taken me back and forth 200 miles a day, four days a week, for the past two years – the best, most fun, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly car I’d ever owned. No, I was still reeling from the revelation that it was all just a big, bald-faced lie.

For me and thousands other VW drivers, it feels like some sick, twisted game of gotcha. And the worst part? It’s a game with no winners.

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