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In September, Volkswagen admitted to using a cheat device on some of its diesel models to pass emissions tests. During the ensuing scandal, it became clear that VW was not only cheating on emissions tests, but also lying to consumers about its famed “Clean Diesel” engines. After nine months of behind-closed-doors discussions, Volkswagen has finally reached a nearly $15 billion settlement.

“The unprecedented size of this settlement not only punished Volkswagen, but also sends a warning to other automakers that cheating will not be tolerated,” says Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Car Rankings. “It also sets a strong precedent for protecting consumers from the wrongdoings of the companies they buy cars from.”

As part of the settlement, Volkswagen must spend up to $14.7 billion dollars to purchase affected cars from owners, terminate leases, modify affected vehicles, compensate consumers, mitigate pollution, and make investments that support zero-emission vehicle technology. Of that figure, $10 billion will be used for buybacks and consumer compensations, while the remaining $4.7 billion will be used to help clean up the detrimental effects to the environment.

What the VW Settlement Means for You

Owners of specific Volkswagen models (see list below) can receive payments from VW equal to the fair replacement value of the vehicle as of the date the scandal broke, September 17, 2015. According to a press release by the Federal Trade Commission, “consumers who choose the buyback option will receive between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on their car’s model, year, mileage, and trim.” Consumers will also receive different amounts depending on if they purchased their affected VW diesel before or after September 18, 2015.

You’ll also be covered, to a degree, if you have an outstanding loan on an affected VW model. The FTC is ordering Volkswagen to provide owners the option to have VW forgive their loans, as well as the option for Volkswagen to pay off any third party loans. If you do have a loan through a third party, VW will pay up to 130 percent of what you’re entitled to (if it is a $10,000 buyback, VW will pay the loan off up to $13,000).

The settlement also has options for Volkswagen diesel owners who want to keep their cars. If VW comes up with a fix that’s approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, Volkswagen can offer consumers the option of keeping their cars. However, those cars must be modified by a VW mechanic to comply with emission standards. If your affected vehicle is currently leased, you have the option of terminating the lease at no cost or having the vehicle modified to comply with the emission standards.

To discover whether or not your vehicle is eligible for the emissions modifications and what options are available for you and your car, go to either www.VWCourtSettlement.com or www.AudiCourtSettlement.com. Both websites allow owners to type in their car’s VIN to confirm eligibility and find out what to do next. Owners of the 2.0-liter TDI models have until May 2018 to make their decision.

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What the Volkswagen Settlement Means for Volkswagen

It’s safe to say that Volkswagen has taken quite a hit to both its reputation and its income from this scandal. Volkswagen is one of the largest automakers in the world, but $15 billion isn’t chump change, and the company may need to make some modifications to stay afloat. Bloomberg reports that VW has dabbled with the idea of selling some brands that it owns, such as Ducati motorcycles.

Volkswagen has until 2019 to buy back at least 85 percent of the vehicles affected, or they will be required to pay additional fines toward government agencies, and it’s likely that they will face more lawsuits from consumers, dealers, and international governments alike.

Volkswagen has already stated that they are looking toward a majority electric vehicle lineup, hoping to stay away from gasoline and diesel fuel altogether. Called Strategy 2025, VW wants to sell up to three million electric vehicles annually and have more than 30 electric cars by 2025. While that seems like an ambitious goal to reach in less than a decade, it certainly is possible.

If you’re looking to get your hands on a Volkswagen TDI model or you’re just trying to figure out how much your VW is worth, head on over to the U.S. News Best Price Program page to find the lowest prices in the area and to compare your car with others.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the up-to-date news regarding the Volkswagen scandal, as well as the best money-saving tips and car shopping advice.

Vehicles Affected

Generation One:

2009-14 VW Jetta TDI

2009-14 Jetta SportWagen TDI

2010-14 VW Golf TDI

2012-14 VW Beetle TDI

2009-13 Audi A3 TDI

Generation Two:

2012-14 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Generation Three:

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

2015 Golf SportWagen TDI

2015 Jetta TDI

2015 Passat TDI

2015 Beetle TDI

2015 Audi A3 TDI

(Source: Green Car Reports)

Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen V6 TDI models are also affected by the scandal, but no agreement has been announced about a proposed fix or compensation.