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10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,525 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Volkswagen Beetle electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #29

Sep 252014

Beetle

  • 122,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Bought this VW Beetle used. Had terrible smell, like burnt crayons. Cleaned it intensely, inside and outside. Thorough detail job. Still smells, causing headache. Air bag light and buzzer stayed on even after latching seat belt. Cruise control works erratically, lunging forward suddenly, then chugs, then lunges forward quickly again. Speed works consistently when cruise control is not engaged. Very unsafe with cruise control in use. Lighting issues. Interior lights would not work, unable to see interior gauges in the dark. Turn signals blinking erratically, and not in sync. Took vehicle in for repairs at an authorized VW dealer, paid $1,300. Still not working properly. Took it back in 4 days later because drivers side window almost fell out while driving, and interior lighting issues still did not work. Was charged another $600. Vehicle will not engage into drive position easily, and sometimes not at all unless the steering wheel is jerked on. Dealer said sensors were the problem, and that I will need to bring it back again to have the cruise control fixed at a cost of $250. I am scared to drive this vehicle now. There should be some recalls on the smell issue, and the air bag/seat belt issue. Also cruise control issue, because I have been told it is associated with the electrical problems.

- Yoder, IN, USA

problem #28

Jun 302014

Beetle

  • 88,900 miles
On June 13th I was driving my car and I went to turn off the ac and it made a loud clicking noise, after the noise the ac wouldn't turn off so I ended up driving 3 hours with the ac full blast. A few days after this I was able to turn off the ac, and left it like this for about 2 weeks. At this point the middle knob was stuck and the ac would randomly work and no longer would turn at all. On June 30th as I was leaving the parking lot of my apartment and went to turned on the ac, it made a weird noise but I continued driving anyways. The ac stopped working so I turned the knob again and I started getting a burning smell, I looked down and saw smoke coming out from behind the knob so I drove back to my apartment because I decided it wasn't safe to drive on the freeway. In a matter of a minute the smoke got worse and started coming out from the entire area under my radio. I parked my car once I got back home and stood outside as I allowed my car to air out, not long after this I saw flames coming out from the middle knob and growing bigger. I was luckily able to put it out with a cup of water and was forced to call 911 to make sure the fire was completely out. This is one of the worst experiences that has ever happened to me and it was terrifying, if I didn't have a cup of water at the time the fire could have easily burned up the rest of my car in a matter of seconds.

- King City, CA, USA

problem #27

May 032012

Beetle

  • 82,000 miles
Vehicle stalled approaching an intersection. It would not restart, and none of the electronics functioned. The vehicle had to be pushed into a nearby parking lot. Upon repair, it was discovered that the battery fuse block had melted, and the in-line fuses were all damaged. The battery fuse block needed to be replaced.

- Hanover Park, IL, USA

problem #26

Nov 242010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 157,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

My fiancee and I purchased this Beetle in November of 2010 and have had nothing but problems with it. It has been in the shop a number of time (5-7) and we have spent hundreds in trying to fix it. Yet no luck. It is a danger to my fiancee and new born baby. On day it will run fine but then after driving for ten minutes the epc light come on and the brakes barely work if at all, and it wont speed up even if she has her foot to the floor. So now we have a $6000 dollar car that not even the VW dealership can fix. It sits on our road. I have seen so many complaints about people having the same problem and I believe its only a matter of time before some one gets seriously injured or even worse. Please do something about this monstrosity that VW refuses to admit.

- Bradford , OH, USA

problem #25

Apr 112011

Beetle

  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact smelled a burning odor throughout the vehicle. The odor caused him to have a headache. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for a diagnostic test. The failure mileage was 73,000 miles.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #24

Apr 062010

Beetle

  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact was driving approximately 45 mph when the windshield wiper failed to function. In addition, the power windows, turn signals, headlights, air conditioner and defroster would not function. The brake and engine warning lights were also illuminated and the contact stated that the failures occurred at the same time. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostics or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 65,000.

- Mooresburg, TN, USA

problem #23

Dec 102010

Beetle

  • 65,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Seat belt/air bag light came on. Took to local, qualified mechanic. They said only VW dealer could fix and reset. Dealer said it was lower seat belt harness ($380), but could be more (above $800) and the service writer encouraged us to do the more expensive work. Told them to do the harness and see if light would go out, which it did. Light came back on around 12/10/2010 at approximately 79,000 miles. Just prior to this, we purchased another VW Beetle, a 2003 convertible with 69,500 miles with the seat belt/airbag light on. Seller said he could not get it fixed by his mechanic and had to have VW dealer repair it for around "$380", maybe more. Since he made other repairs, we let it go. Now we have two to fix at the mercy of the VW dealer. My concerns are several: 1. this is a recurring problem for us and for numerous others (VW Beetle forum) 2. the repairs can only be completed by a high cost VW dealer and the computer reset by them only 3. the materials appear to be deficient/defective and the engineering of the harness/wiring system substandard 4. repairs need to be made in the 60-85,000 mile range - a contrived maintenance/repair item that brings windfall revenue/profit to VW dealers in the $400-1,000 range per occurrence when many of the cars are worth only $4,000-7,000. 5. since it is a basic safety item and we don't know if the airbag system works or not, we are forced to repair this problem because it makes us appear as if we are negligent when in fact this problem should not exist and be covered by the manufacturer like emission systems to well past 100-150,000 miles. In summary, VW has colluded with its dealers to create this situation and allow this "repair" to emerge as a way to generate revenues and profits on cars that would normally not have a reason to be brought in to a VW dealer. It is non-competitive, fraudulent and unnecessary.

- Upland, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 152010

Beetle

  • miles
Serious electrical long term quality issues, starting with under hood wiring for glow plugs melted away, air bag/seat belt wiring broke/failed, seat heater failed, passenger door switch failed, turn signal bulb holder failed, repeated head lamp and tail light failures, alternator pulley clutch failed(exploded) factory alarm problems - just sets off, air back light on dash on, service engine light on.

- Eugene, OR, USA

problem #21

Jul 252010

Beetle

  • 134,000 miles
2002 VW Beetle turbo 1.8 while driving the red light sensor would come on stating my car was overheating. Nothing was leaking, sensors were replaced a few months prior due to the same issue along with a ring and it happened again. The red light flashes then about 2 miles later the oil light goes on and if the car is not pulled over immediately then you risk engine damage. The entire engine is made up of plastic parts pretty much which crack and melt very easy when heat gets to them. So now after spending money on water pumps, assemblies, hoses, sensors which total over 3K it is now an issue once again and the car is undrivable. I am extremely disappointed in this vehicle. Also my igniter coils were replaced 8 times (2X each one) prior to a recall and they do not reimburse you all the monies spent. Now there is a recall in my sunroof which the dealership will not fix since the water damage is already affecting the roof of the vehicle. So with all of my receipts not including rental cars for repairs only I have invested over 6K in a car worth less and I doubt no one will pay to take it off my hands which will leave a single mother car less.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #20

Jul 132010

Beetle

  • 50,000 miles
2003 Volkswagen Beetle. Alternator, wiring harness, fuse block and battery all went bad. Melted parts (wire and fuse block), which indicates high current draw and potential for fire, concerned about safety. VW says isolated issue, web search says a different story. Call VW customer care, logged a case, dead end. I'm sure it's their issue however they won't admit and instead we get a $1500 bill.

- Killingworth, CT, USA

problem #19

Apr 162010

Beetle

  • 65,234 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Over the past two months, I have experienced problems shifting in between gears. The problem began on a road trip to houston, tx and was stuck on a back highway in low gear in the middle on nowhere. After bringing the car to a stop and restarting the vehicle it worked for some time but the issue progressively got worse over the last two months. I live in nacogdoches, tx where there are many hills throughout town, this past Friday on my way home from school my car would not shift gears and I could not get over the hills. Another car came over the hill and almost hit me as the speed limit is 55 mph in that area and my car was not even moving as I hit over 6000 RPM and I could not move forward to climb the hill. Now the vehicle will not even move forward once it was brought to my driveway, no matter how many times I have restarted.

- Nacogdoches, TX, USA

problem #18

Nov 072008

Beetle

  • 55,000 miles
I own a 2002 Beetle. It has 55,000 miles on it. Two months ago the air bag light came on and won't go off. Now, the turn signals won't work. To add to this once in awhile the sun roof will open on it's own!!! the dealer said it will cost about $650 to fix. This is not the first time with electrical problems with this car. The complete lighting system went out, the security door lock system stopped, the rear brake lights quit working, both windows have stopped going up and down. A couple of times the engine won't start and three times it will just shut down while driving. This car has a mind of it's own. Luckily no one has been hurt yet. Some of this has been recalled and some not.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #17

Dec 042008

Beetle

  • 39,000 miles
I have had my windshield wipers replaced twice, and the last time was at a Volkswagen dealership. While driving during a two-day 18 hour road trip in varying heaviness of rain, the windshield wipers stopped working during a downpour on a highway. They froze mid wipe causing a temporary lack of visibility and potentially a fatal crash. After turning them off for a minute they started working again. Had this probably several hours later and again the next morning after they had been off for over 12 hours. This exact problem (stopped windshield wipers) did not occur again. However on January 17th, 2009, after using wipers continuously during a calm rain storm for a total of about 30 minutes, the wipers would not turn off. When the wipers were placed in the off position they continue to wipe back and forth rather quickly. The other speed settings work fine. Then, after turning off the engine and removing the key and starting the car up again, the wipers would not continue while in the off position, but after turning them on once they will not go off. Problem has not been solved and a Volkswagen specialist in austin, tx (where I ended up after my trip) had never heard of the issue.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #16

Nov 012008

Beetle

  • 95,000 miles
Airbag light came on. I took it in and they said it is caused by a bad wiring harness in the drivers seat, something to do with the seatbelt latch. It is my understanding that the airbags will not work if the light is on. There should be a recall. Consumers should not have to pay for a manufacturer defect! there have been numerous complaints, yet VW has yet to recall this part. Are they waiting until someone dies?

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #15

Jan 152003

Beetle

  • 1,000 miles
2002 VW Beetle would drain all battery power parked more than a few days. It was returned to dealer under warranty several times. Owner self diagnosed problem as radio keep alive power was pulling excessive current due to internal radio fault. The radio was replaced and solved the issue. It took at least 4 visits to the dealer to get this resolved.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #14

Mar 112008

Beetle

  • 42,000 miles
I own two of the VW new Beetles. One is 2002 and the other is 2003. Both of them have trouble with the taillight/stoplight and turn signals not working due to a defective contact design in the bulb socket. In order to fix the problem you have to take the assembly out and bend the contact to put more spring in them which puts more pressure against the bulb. This may fix the problem for a time ( 1 to 60 days) then the problem reverts. All parts are oem equipment. I have contacted VW about this and there is not a recall. I would think that turn signals and tail lights would be considered a safety issue. I know I am not the only person to have this problem. I am concerned about my families safety and don't understand why a mandatory recall has not been issued.

- Goddard, KS, USA

problem #13

Sep 152006

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Passenger door had been difficult to get closed since about 9/15/06, but on this date, although door had been successfully closed and locked for 20 miles, it swung open as I was exiting a us highway and turning onto a state highway. Fortunately I was alone in the car. I took it to a private shop and had the door repaired - although now I can't open it using the outside handle, the door has no problems latching. Previous to this issue with the door, my trunk release buttons on both my driver's side door and my remote wouldn't release my trunk - I was only able to open it manually using the key in the lock. I replaced the remote battery, but that had no effect. After my car door was repaired, my trunk releases started working again. However, on occasion the trunk has had the same reluctance to latch that the passenger door did. In the last month, my windows have decided to go no farther than an inch from top on the passenger side and only halfway up on the driver's side and I can neither unlock nor lock my car using the interior buttons - I can only use my remote.

- Parkville, MO, USA

problem #12

May 052007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
02 nb with 7700 miles, airbag light came on. Told system will not work with this fault. Took to royal volkwagen, was told they could not communicate with air bag computer, so, sorry. No offer to investigate nor fix problem. Spoke with volkwagen care line, what a joke, sorry, not under warranty. Come on Volkswagen, lets do a recall, or do you really not care about our lives"?" german engineering my money.

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #11

Oct 192006

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,842 miles
2002 VW Beetle 2.0 gls w/ approx. 77,000 miles. Low fuel lights stays on / will not go off. The fuel gauge is working properly, the light just won't go off. We checked several web sites and contacted a couple of VW dealerships. We found out it is likely the instrument cluster and it's a fairly common problem. VW wouldn't warranty the work.

- Greenville, MI, USA

problem #10

Jun 192006

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles
In June I took my 2002 VW Beetle to the dealership because it again would not start. The vehicle has had the alternator replaced already, a battery change, and then another alternator. So three alternators since creation. I was told that another battery had failed. So now three batteries in total. I also told them that the brake lights were sticking on and burning out the bulbs, that they stayed lit so people could not tell if I was braking and that the cruise control was not working. I was told by corporate that my VIN did not fall under a recall. I argued that while my VIN might not have been identified it did not negate the fact that the car had the same failure and cause as those listed as part of the recall. They finally agreed to warranty the brake switch failure. I paid for the new battery. However, the car was returned to me with out working turn signals and hazard lights. The service rep failed to return my calls about it on numerous occasions. Only after I contacted the mgr did they call me. They said to bring it back and they would fix it. Now they want to charge me $135 because they say the switch inside the dash failed and it was not related to the electrical issues with the brake switch. Funny the cruise control, etc were related. I was told the brake switch allowed electrical to be back fed into the system that was too powerful for the circuits thus burning them out. They can not explain why the turn signals would not be affected by this nor why they returned it to me broken. This car is an electrical lemon!

- Friendswood, TX, USA

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