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Half a million cars under recall over illegal software

Half a million cars under recall over illegal software

The world's No. 1 automaker is in big trouble with the Obama Administration, which is forcing it to recall some 492,000 vehicles. The automaker has been intentionally deceiving its customers since model year 2009, and has been putting everyone's health at risk.

The car maker Volkswagen intentionally installed software, called a defeat device, that made it appear its cars met the Clean Air Act standards that are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. This Act is intended to keep harmful pollutants out of the air.

The deception worked this way. Volkswagen's software could tell when you were having your car tested, or inspected for emissions. During that test, it would ensure the car did not violate the EPA's standards for nitrogen oxide emissions.

However, once on the road, that same software would turn off those controls. By some estimates, Volkswagen's cars were emitting up to 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide.

Nitrogen oxide has been linked to smog and air pollution. In fact, if you remember how brown and dirty the skies over cities like Los Angeles were in the 1980s, and compare it to now, the EPA's controls have vastly improved air quality in this country. Nitrogen oxide has also been linked to serious health issues, such as asthma and premature death.

Volkswagen has suspended sales for some affected models, while it tries to figure out how to correct the software it has been using to deceive the EPA. Volkswagen, which admitted to being in wrong after denying it to the EPA for nearly a year, is facing some serious hurt from the U.S. government.

Under its Clean Air Act policy, the Justice Department can impose fines of more than $37,000 for each affected vehicle. If fully imposed, the EPA can fine Volkswagen $18 billion. Worse for Volkswagen, its reputation may be permanently damaged.

This recall affects Volkswagen and Audi diesel, 4-cylinder vehicles sold in the United States. The specific makes and models are Jetta (2009-2015); Beetle (2009-2015); Golf (2014-2015), Passat (2014-15); and the Audi A3 (2009-2015).

If you have one of these cars, you should receive a recall notice. Or you can contact your local dealer for further instructions.

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