Dieselgate: The Mercedes Diesel Emissions Scandal


Since 2015 the German automobile industry has been rocked by the diesel emissions scandal also called Dieselgate. First it looked like it was mainly a VW affair but over time more and more car manufacturers were affected. Daimler with its Mercedes diesel cars is among the worst hit. There have been several recalls of hundreds of thousands of Mercedes diesel cars and German courts are swamped with lawsuits of Mercedes drivers who feel cheated and demand compensation.


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Mercedes recalls during the Dieselgate scandal

The summer of 2018 brought the first two official recalls (ordered by the Federal Motor Transport Authority). It started slowly with the recall of 5,000 Vito cars in May but the Mercedes diesel emissions scandal picked up speed with the recall of 700,000 vehicles in August 2018. Numerous models were affected ranging from the C-class to the E-class and the Sprinter model. All of the vehicles within this recall conform to the exhaust emission standard EURO 6b, so were relatively new.

2019 saw several more recalls. First it hit the SUV model GLK, with 60,000 ordered back into the garage to receive a software update. In autumn the Sprinter model with 260,000 units was hit hard. And there seems to be another recall going on which flies under the radar of most of the public. So it is not known which models and how many cars are affected this time but we do know from our clients that at least the C-class is affected again.

In addition there has been a voluntary customer service measure going on for a couple of years now. It includes three million Mercedes diesel cars in Europe and almost all EURO 5 and EURO 6 vehicles are part of this service measure. Clients are asked to bring their car to the garage to receive the software update on a voluntary basis. If you, however, ignore an officially ordered recall your car might be taken out of service forcibly.

The software update – to get it or not to get it

The software update is free of charge and will take less than an hour. However, Mercedes drivers should not decide for the update in a hurry. Many drivers have reported on an increase in fuel and AdBlue consumption after their car received the update. Others have noted decreasing power or a sooting engine. And will Daimler pay for problems that result from the update? Hardly! The company claims it will take over costs for any repairs needed, however the burden of proof lies with the client. It will be almost impossible to prove that the software update was the culprit and responsible for the damage.

The update is supposed to remove the defeat device, which was illegally installed in millions of cars. Car manufacturers have used different defeat devices to recognize when the car is on a stationary test rig. They were then able to reduce emission control, being rewarded with a high exhaust emission standard. In reality while in normal use on the streets the emissions were much higher, sometimes not even good enough to achieve a EURO 2 emission standard. This saved the companies so much money that they were willing to take the huge risk of being caught cheating – which has now happened and is the background of Dieselgate.

Mercedes drivers suffer from diesel ban in many cities

Since the beginning of 2018 several German cities have imposed diesel traffic bans on certain streets or even on the complete city. The idea is to achieve cleaner air for the citizens. Many inner cities in Germany suffer from bad air with figures for nitrogen oxide easily exceeding the critical value. Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe) has sued more than 30 federal states who are responsible for the air in their cities. If convicted by court they usually appeal which has dragged on the whole process. However, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Darmstadt and Berlin have imposed diesel driving bans so far. Stuttgart has been the most severe since driving is forbidden inside the city limits for all diesel vehicles not conforming to at least exhaust emission standard EURO 5. In addition to that, a ban for EURO 5 diesel cars will be expected to be introduced in 2020.

What to do when affected by the Mercedes Dieselgate scandal?

Because of the diesel emissions scandal almost all diesel cars have suffered a substantial loss of value - even the ones that are not equipped with a defeat device. Interest and faith in diesel cars has plummeted. This loss of value has to be borne by the clients, since contrary to the US, in Germany VW and Mercedes are not willing to make an arrangement and pay compensation to all affected.

Therefore clients have to fight for their rights and we help them doing so. If your Mercedes is equipped with a defeat device, this gives rise to compensation claims. These lawsuits often end in courts granting compensation to the clients. Courts accuse the car manufacturers of intentional infliction of damage contra bonos mores (deliberate immoral damaging) pursuant to section 826 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). Result of this verdict is that the client hands the car back to the manufacturer and gets a refund which usually amounts to the purchase price he paid for the car. Some courts detract a compensation for use of the car. Either way, as a rule the client receives more compensation than the amount he could hope for on the second-hand car market. If you have received a letter from Daimler asking you to take your car to the garage so it can get the software update chances are high that it is equipped with a defeat device and you have a right to receive compensation. Please contact us if you receive such a letter. We will carry out a free and nonbinding check and let you know which opportunities you have to defend yourself in the Mercedes Dieselgate scandal.

Have you financed your Mercedes via a car loan? Then you might be in luck!

Many clients have a second option of defending their rights and turning the Dieselgate scandal into an advantage. Many credit institutions (among them the Mercedes-Benz Bank) have made serious mistakes in car loan contracts. As a result the cooling-off period in which a customer is legally allowed to withdraw from the contract might never have started. Consequentially it is still possible to withdraw from the contract years later. This is possible in about 90% of all cases. If the financing of the car was arranged by the seller the car loan agreement and the car purchase contract are linked contracts. Now, if the customer successfully withdraws from the loan agreement the linked purchase contract will also be void. The customer returns the car to the financing bank (be it the Mercedes-Benz bank or any other bank) and gets a refund – all payments he has made so far for example the down payment and all installments will be refunded. This applies to all cars, diesel or not, equipped with a defeat device or not.

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