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Volkswagen diesel owners in U.S. face lost value and limbo

By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - As the resale value of their diesel cars drops, U.S. Volkswagen owners are stuck, unwilling to sell their polluting vehicles at a loss but lacking information on what fixes may be in store.

A month after Volkswagen admitted to regulators that its diesel cars were rigged to cheat on U.S. emissions tests, no concrete answers are forthcoming on how the company will compensate owners, nor how dealers should deal with them.

The German automaker has said it will begin fixing the first of the nearly 500,000 non-compliant Golfs, Jettas and Passats from model years 2009-2015 in January, but earlier models will require hardware changes and could take longer.

"I'm kind of resigned to the waiting period but it's frustrating, as I feel like I'm in limbo," said a San Francisco Golf owner, Janet Kornblum.

"Obviously I can't sell the car as it is and I don't really want to. But I have no idea what's going to happen."

Auto industry consultant Edmunds.com said on Monday the price of used VW diesel vehicles sold at auction by dealers to other dealers dropped 6.5 percent, based on Sept. 1-Oct. 9 data.

The average price of these cars fell to $10,586 after Sept 18, the day the scandal broke, from $11,319, Edmunds.com said.

"The drop reflects a lot of the uncertainty and speculation that's out there," said Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell.

That contrasts with healthy U.S. used-car prices, which were 7.6 percent higher year-over-year in the second quarter.

Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As lawmakers and regulators seek answers on how the cheating by the world's second-largest carmaker occurred and how it will make amends, Volkswagen's reputation has suffered, reflected in fewer online searches.

Car-buying website TrueCar found a 57 percent drop in searches for VW diesel cars since the scandal broke on Sept 18. The overall brand was itself affected, with total searches for all Volkswagen vehicles down 9 percent.

Swapalease.com said VW lease transfers have dropped 50 percent thus far in October, including gas and diesel engines.

On the TDIClub.com online forum, one owner trying to sell his 2013 diesel Passat for $14,400 on Sept 18 was told by another member: "No one here will buy an 'affected' TDI until the VW fix is implemented, and that fix, whatever it is, may take a year to happen." (Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)