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VW Diesel Owners: Wait for Repairs Before You Act

Volkswagen is now the target of a criminal investigation and Swedish prosecutors announced Tuesday that the automaker could face corporate fines if found guilty.

An emissions scandal has left VW diesel owners in a tough spot. What do you do with a vehicle you now know pollutes more than you thought and is potentially worth less?

Black Book, the circulation restricted to auto dealers, showed VW diesel cars have depreciated at as much as three times the rate of their gas counterparts. Europeans are supposed to get a fix for their diesels soon, but no fix has been diesel owners in the U.S., leaving some wondering what to do now.

Lisa Bosshard, of Corinth, is one of those VW Diesel Owners. When she bought her 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, she had a 90-mile roundtrip commute and she wanted a car that was fuel efficient and performed well. But was a diesel engine worth the premium cost? For answers, she did her homework.

"We took a spread sheet and we compared specifically the gasoline versus the diesel and what the payout is versus the fuel cost of the two cars," she said.

Bosshard is one smart consumer. She and her husband saved and paid $28,000 cash for the car.

The Jetta TDI "clean diesel" averages 45 miles to the gallon. Bosshard was equally pleased with the vehicle's torque and acceleration. So when the news broke in September of 2015 that Volkswagen used software to cheat emissions tests, she was angry.

"Initially it was just shock and awe," she said. "Stunned that they would do something so deeply deceptive to the consumer."

She had questions — lots of them. What if a potential fix adversely affects performance or fuel efficiency?

Consumer Reports experts say they're studying that very issue. Jeff Bartlett, who leads the consumer group's automotive analysis, said they plan to test the vehicles after the repairs are made.

"Based on information just released from Volkswagen, its expected that initial vehicles shouldn't see much of a real world difference," he said.

That's potentially good news for consumers.

Volkswagen says it's "working to make things right" with a Goodwill Package. Eligible VW owners who apply by April 30 will get a $500 dollar gift card and $500 in gift certificates to be used at a dealership.

"If we go with the gift cards, there's some strings potentially attached with that," Bosshard said, concerned that the cards come with pages of fine print.

Clause 11 requires a consumer to waive her right to a trial by jury and agree to arbitration in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So she's concerned that by accepting the cards, she could sign away her right to sue.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan emailed NBC 5 Responds and said that's not the case.

"The clause listed is a standard agreement with the bank," Ginivan wrote. "Affected customers eligible for the Goodwill Package are not required to sign a release of claims in order to receive the Package."

Consumer reports told NBC 5 it is a standard agreement. Still, Bosshard is disappointed.

"We were so pleased with the car, but we'll never buy another [Volkswagon]."

While there's currently no target date for repairs, Consumer Reports says if the repair has no negative effects on fuel efficiency or performance, your car may retain its value. VW has hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg, the same man who oversaw claims for 9-11 victims. Feinberg will administer the claims program for VW customers, but there's no word on what that process will be.

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