If you drive a Volkswagen diesel model, your car might be getting recalled—though not for safety reasons. The Obama administration has ordered the carmaker to recall about 482,000 cars because, it claims, Volkswagen put illegal software in those cars designed to get around environmental standards, the New York Times reports. So-called "defeat devices" are able to detect when the car is getting tested for emissions; during those times, it turns on its full emissions control systems, but those systems remain off otherwise. Therefore, while the car is actually being driven, it pollutes much more than the manufacturer is reporting, the EPA says, thus creating ozone and smog.
The EPA says defeat devices were installed in 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles between model years 2009 and 2015; the recall would include diesel models of the Volkswagen Jetta, the Volkswagen Beetle, the Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen Passat, and the Audi A3. "Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health," says an EPA official. It's part of the government's efforts to more aggressively ensure the auto industry sticks to environmental regulations, analysts say. "They want to make it clear that they’re going to crack down," says the president of Clean Air Watch. "They want to lay down the law, enforce the law, and show they’re not going to tolerate cheaters." The EPA says owners of the affected vehicles do not need to take any immediate action, the AP reports. (Read more Volkswagen stories.)