A settlement for Volkswagen 2.0-liter diesel cars with "defeat device" software was approved at the end of October, and the process of offering buybacks to affected owners is now underway.
Owners can sell their cars back to VW Group for a predetermined amount, or choose to wait for possible modifications to be approved that would allow the cars to comply with emissions standards.
But it might be a good idea for owners to keep their cars intact during this process.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer warned Volkswagen owners not to strip parts off their diesel cars before attempting to sell them back to the automaker, according to USA Today.
After a complaint from a VW attorney about owners removing parts, Breyer—who is overseeing both the VW 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel settlements—said that a "word of caution is appropriate at this time."
"Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road," he wrote, "and not to strip the cars."
Judge Breyer issued the statement after a report that an Ohio owner had stripped down his car before bringing it in to a dealership.
Joe Mayer—a Cincinnati car salesman—removed the doors, rear hatch, airbags, and body panels from his 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI, reports Jalopnik.
Mayer claimed the car still ran, and had an appointment with a dealership regarding a buyback for the car.
But after Jalopnik ran a story showing the Golf TDI in its stripped-down condition, a VW representative called Mayer and said his appointment had been postponed.
The representative did not offer a time for a new appointment, and gave Mayer the phone number of an attorney to whom he was instructed to direct further questions.
Mayer maintained that stripping the car did not breach the terms of the buyback agreement, citing an FTC Consent Order specifying only that cars be "operable."
The Consent Order defines operable as a car that can be "driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power," according to Mayer.
A Volkswagen statement sent to Jalopnik did not directly address parts stripping, saying only that the 2.0-liter TDI settlement is governed by "specific eligibility guidelines and other conditions."
It noted that the "great majority" of affected owners "take very good care of their vehicles and are returning them for buyback intact."