Auto Tech

Volkswagen outlines plan for fixing four-cylinder diesels in Europe

The solutions likely won't be the same in the US, but VW is making progress in Europe to remedy its emissions scandal.

2015 VW Golf

So far, one of the three types of engines will require the installation of a new part.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

There's a light at the end of the tunnel for Volkswagen, at least in Europe.

Volkswagen has submitted its four-cylinder diesel engine fix to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority.

Volkswagen acknowledged this fall that it had installed "defeat devices" in roughly 11 million diesel vehicles around the world. The software could detect laboratory testing environments and lower emissions levels to acceptable limits. On the road, however, the vehicles were polluting more than legally allowed. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority gave VW until the end of this month to come up with a fix.

There are three sizes of four-cylinder diesel engines, and each will require its own fix. A software update will fix the largest, 2.0-liter engines, VW said. The midsized, 1.6-liter units require both a software update and a small plastic filter that sits inside the engine's air intake. The smallest, 1.2-liter motor's remedy is still being worked out, but VW said it expects the fix to be a software update as well.

"In the development of the solutions, the focus was on maximum customer-friendliness," the automaker said Wednesday in a statement. The software flashes may take no more than 30 minutes. Engines that require that plastic filter could be handled in about an hour.

These fixes are for European diesel models only. A fix for North American markets is still coming, and the automaker has not discussed publicly how that solution will pan out.

VW 1.6-Liter Diesel Solution

The 1.6-liter diesel engines require the installation of a plastic filter ahead of the mass airflow sensor. The goal is to smooth out the airflow through the intake.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen said the fix should retain most, if not all of the vehicle's prior performance and fuel economy, which has been a chief concern for some owners. "However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed," VW said. Until someone tests pre- and post-fix cars back to back, it will be hard to know what effect the proposed solutions will have.

Another worry among owners is lost time due to dealership visits. To that end, the automaker has promised "appropriate replacement mobility options free of charge."

Volkswagen expects to begin work on affected European diesel models as soon as January. However, given the scope of the recall, the automaker said it expects the full process to take all year.