Many people were affected by a diesel emissions scandal that came to light in 2014. If you owned an affected Mercedes vehicle, you may be entitled to claim compensation by being part of group action.
In 2014, it was announced that many diesel cars weren’t as safe as previously thought. Emissions of toxic fumes, limited by governments, were nowhere near as low as vehicle tests said they were. Many car manufacturers had used devices in their vehicles to artificially lower their emissions.
Mercedes vehicles were involved, and your car may have been affected.
Read on to find out more about the diesel emissions scandal, and what to do if your car has been part of it.
- – The diesel emissions scandal explained
- – Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal
- – Audi emissions scandal
- – Can I still claim compensation for the emissions scandal?
We update all our guides regularly. If you are researching the Diesel Emissions scandal or compensation and we haven’t got an exact guide that helps you, keep coming back as we update daily.
What Are Vehicle Emissions?
Fuel is burned to power a car. This process of combustion leaves behind some harmful, toxic chemicals. When diesel is burned, you’re left with nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas that can damage the ozone layer, allowing dangerous UV light to make its way through our atmosphere. Nitrogen oxide can also impact people by affecting their eyes and their lungs, leading to respiratory problem and aggravating breathing conditions.
To use cars powered by diesel fuel, these emissions must be accepted. Usually, though, they’re kept to low levels through vehicle emissions tests. Cars are checked to make sure that the emissions are at a low level, minimising harm to people and the planet when you drive your Mercedes-Benz car.
If a car didn’t pass an emissions test, staying below the legal limit, it wouldn’t be sold to consumers.
There are different emissions limits in different countries. In Europe, nitrogen oxide emissions should not go above 0.080g/km. This should apply throughout the journey, with emissions levels never increasing beyond this maximum level.
Dieselgate is the name that was given to the diesel emissions scandal. It became clear, in 2014, that car emissions weren’t exactly as they seemed. Vehicle manufacturers had used computer software and devices to manipulate their test results. Many of the cars being driven worldwide were producing more emissions than they should.
There are different emissions limits in different countries, though all are roughly similar. In the UK and Europe, nitrogen oxide emissions should not go above 0.080g/km. Manufacturers made cars with emissions that went above this limit, hiding the evidence so they could sell cars with up to 40% higher levels of nitrogen oxide.
Why Did Manufacturers Hide Higher Diesel Emissions?
The higher the temperature of fuel combustion, the more efficient and powerful the car. This improved efficiency comes at a price, in the form of more nitrogen oxide.
You can lower toxic vehicle emissions by reducing combustion temperatures. To do this, you must accept some loss of power and lower fuel efficiency for cars.
Manufacturers know that powerful, efficient and economical cars are more successful. Everyone wants a responsive car that costs as little as possible to run. They could improve their vehicle’s stats by accepting higher emissions, though they’d never get through the tests to allow them to be sold around the world.
How Were Higher Diesel Emissions Disguised?
Manufacturers used software within their vehicles, and things called ‘defeat devices’. These were intended to manipulate the tests by temporarily changing car behaviour.
Some defeat devices could identify when a car was likely to be in test conditions. Cars were tested in laboratory settings, rather than out in the real world, so vehicle emissions could temporarily drop if a car was only moving at low speeds.
In some countries, tests involved some limited road driving. In the US, cars were driven 15 miles to check levels of diesel emissions. Car manufacturers knew about these tests, so they programmed their cars to drop their diesel emissions until the 16th mile of any journey.
How Was the Diesel Emissions Scandal Uncovered?
In 2013, tests were carried out by the International Council on Clean Transportation. They were commissioned to check emissions levels in the real world. They started with a few Volkswagen vehicles, and they were surprised by the results. Some cars were producing up to 40% more nitrogen oxide than expected.
It was known that such high discrepancies couldn’t have been an accident. Before they announced the shocking news, they decided to carry out more research. Volkswagen wasn’t the only manufacturer found to be manipulating test results. Many Mercedes vehicles were affected, using similar defeat devices. In fact, the problem was widespread, with several manufacturers involved.
Armed with their evidence and real tests results, researchers announced what they’d discovered to the world in May 2014. It took a few more years before car manufacturers admitted what they’d been doing.
How Many Cars Were Affected?
Mercedes-Benz cars were produced by parent company Daimler. They were fined 870 million euros in Germany, with more than 770,000 German Mercedes cars recalled. In England and Wales alone, it’s believed that more than 90,000 cars with Mercedes badges were affected.
Was Your Car Affected?
Your car may have been fitted with defeat devices. It might be recalled. To find out if your car needs a ‘diesel software update’, enter your car’s VIN on the Mercedes-Benz recall webpage. If your car needs to be recalled, you’ll need to take it to an approved location for this work to be carried out.
Mercedes-Benz must cover the cost of deactivating your defeat device, and must also carry out the necessary work to lower your vehicle’s emissions. You may notice some drop in performance and a decrease in fuel economy. If your car has been affected, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Who Can Claim Compensation?
You can be a part of a Mercedes diesel emissions claim if your car was one of those affected. The best way to get involved is to join in with group action. Search for ‘Mercedes diesel emissions claim’ and you’ll find several law firms that are building a case for compensation. These law firms will represent large numbers of people, all making their claims as a group, and law firms invite you to get involved if you want to claim compensation.
It’s not known how much you might receive. Some people may receive the full purchase price of their car, whilst others might get closer to 25% of the cost of their vehicle. It’s a rough estimate that many Mercedes-Benz owners could get around £10,000 in compensation for this scandal, so it’s definitely worth your time and effort in pursuing a claim.
You may be able to claim compensation if your car is a Mercedes vehicle and was manufactured between 2008 and 2018.
Will an Emissions Scandal Happen Again?
Learning lessons from Dieselgate, those in charge of vehicle emissions tests have made changes to the way they’re carried out. Vehicles are no longer just checked under ‘test conditions’, but instead are put through their paces in real-world driving environments. They’re tested for longer, over more miles, in a wider variety of ways.
It’s highly unlikely that manufacturers will attempt to circumvent the restrictions again. As well as the compensation claims, they are liable for huge fines from international courts in the billions, and so the cost savings of creating false low emission cars are wiped out by the financial penalties they would instead suffer.
Quick Diesel Emissions FAQs
If your car was part of the diesel emissions scandal, then you might be able to claim compensation and get back a proportion of the purchase price. For most people, compensation will be anything from 25% to 100% of the vehicle value.
Car manufacturers have already had to pay fines and penalties for their behaviour. These include $4.3 billion paid by Volkswagen and 870 million euros by Mercedes-Benz. On top of these corporate fines, manufacturers must act to make things right for the consumers that have been affected.
A defeat device includes a piece of software that changes how a car behaves. Manufacturers like Volkswagen are not incapable of producing a road-legal vehicle, though they recognise that a road-legal car may lack some excitement and appeal. Lower emissions require some performance sacrifice, making a car look less impressive to the consumer.
Defeat devices temporarily reduce the emissions produced by a car. In the US, where the research was carried out, emissions tests were conducted over a total distance of 15 miles. Volkswagen could get around this problem by setting their cars to have lower emissions until they reached a trip’s 16th mile.
Other defeat devices led to lower emissions if a car wasn’t moving, or if it was moving at low speed. These unrealistic driving conditions were often a sign that vehicles were under test conditions.
Cars are tested to make sure that their emissions don’t have high levels of nitrogen oxide. These tests are carried out to keep people safe, with vehicles only passing the test if they stay below the maximum limit. In the UK and Europe, nitrogen oxide should not go above 0.080g/km. That’s considered an acceptable level of emissions for diesel cars.
In the past, it was public knowledge about how car emissions tests were carried out. Vehicle manufacturers had access to this information.
It all started with Volkswagen, in both their VW and Audi cars. Later, similar discrepancies were found in several other makes including Volvo, Renault, Jeep and Citroën.
Limiting emissions meant limiting a car’s performance. Volkswagen had put defeat devices in around 11 million cars, even admitting that when they were first found out they simply recalled cars to improve defeat devices rather than fixing their emissions levels.
They thought they could get away with it by making the scammed results harder to identify, rather than just being honest and resolving it properly.
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