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Will California DMV act to ensure drivers comply with VW recall?

The Jetta TDI is one of Volkswagen's popular diesel offerings.

The Jetta TDI is one of Volkswagen’s popular diesel offerings.

(Volkswagen)

The Environmental Protection Agency has accused Volkswagen of using a “defeat device” to trick emissions tests into thinking its four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars are less polluting than they are, and Volkswagen has apologized and said it will correct the problem.

More than 11 million vehicles worldwide may be affected.

But what if owners of the approximately 480,000 affected vehicles in the U.S. don’t respond to recall notices, and their diesel Jettas, Beetles, Golfs, Passats and Audi A3s continue to pollute?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles may step in and prevent Californians from renewing their registrations until they’ve had the recall work performed.

There has been speculation, since the scandal was exposed, that some car owners would decline to have their cars repaired -- since correcting the emissions could negatively affect the cars’ performance or fuel efficiency.

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That could mean a lot of car owners. Almost 15% of the affected Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, from the model years 2009 to 2015, were sold and registered in California.

A spokesperson for the California Air Resources Board said Monday that a “DMV Tie-In Program” could be implemented to ensure the affected vehicles get repaired.

Within six months after a dealer recall involving emissions, the Air Resource Boards’s David Clegern said, the manufacturers must supply vehicle identification numbers for the vehicles that have not had their recall repairs completed, and follow up with monthly updates on compliance.

“These names are flagged by DMV and owners are not allowed to register their vehicle until the recall is performed,” Clegern said.

The program, Clegern said, has been extremely effective, resulting in a 93% compliance rate.

The DMV issued a statement partly confirming the CARB position.

“If DMV is notified that a vehicle owner has not responded to a manufacturer’s emission recall notice, registration of the vehicle will be refused until a Proof of Correction Certificate is submitted,” the agency said. “The Proof of Correction Certificate is obtained from an authorized dealership after the recall repairs are performed and must be submitted to DMV by the vehicle owner prior to receiving registration.”

Twitter: @misterfleming

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FOR THE RECORD:

This post was updated to correct an earlier version that said Volkswagen’s chief executive had resigned.
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