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definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,672 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

problem #18

Nov 072008


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

problem #9

Aug 032006

Beetle Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,900 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle had difficulties starting. The service dealer replaced the wiring harness. The air bag and check engine lights illuminated, and the key was hot when removed from the ignition. The electric windows malfunctioned; opened and closed without warning. The service dealer determined the malfunctions were due to a seatbelt. The manufacturer was not contacted.

- Satsuma, FL, USA

problem #8

Jun 242003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 30,000 miles


At and after 30,000 miles many mechanical failures including 2 alternators replaced, 2 batteries replaced, epc light had come on twice, brake light defaults, signal light defaults. Most of this waas fixed under warranty, however, the A/C system stopped working at 65,000 miles and is not a freon issue. The A/C was not covered under warranty.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #7

Nov 082003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 41,583 miles
Seatbelt air bag sensor- air bag malfunction light came on 11/8/03 took the car to the dealership they ordered the part. Both headlights were not working by the time I got to the dealer, they replaced those, turn signals were going on and off along with the hazard lights, was told these needed to be ordered. Called in 2 weeks and was told the parts were on manufacture backorder and they would call me when they came in. I called every 2 weeks they part were not in. 3/3/04 smog test done to register my car- failed smog, took car to dealer cat converter out, they had to order part said they would reorder the sensor, 3/12/04 took car back in parts not in yet, called every day parts not in now my registration was late. Cat converter came in on 4/2/04 it was installed dealer was refusing to smog test for free the finally did but would not pay the fees for my registration being late. Called again every 2 weeks parts did not come in. 6/30/04 went in other parts on the car were braking off, emergency brake handle broken, display lights not working, cup holder broken, again they had to order parts, and they never came in. 8/18/04 air conditioning stoped blowing cold air, made appt online for 8/23/04 took car in, none of the parts ordered are in again. Service stated my air conditioning is not covered because of a hole in the condensor even though my warranty states it is covered they refused to fix it and tried to charge me $95 for finding the hole, I refused to pay after all I have been waiting since November for several parts including a saftey issue, the dealer service has been the worst I dealt with in 25 years of driving. I have sent emails, phone calls and faxes to the dealer regarding all my complaints and have not received a response.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #6

May 062004

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The vehicle warning panel light illuminate for no apparent reason. The battery died. The vehicle indicated it was overheating when it wasn't. the vehicle indicated it was out of gas when it wasn't. the vehicle has had constant electrical problems that affect the lights, door locks, seats, engine and warning lights. The consumer has stopped driving the vehicle.

- Stevenson Ranch, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 092003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 19,000 miles
The car has been to the service department for the driver side tail light bulb to be replaced twice. Bulb replacement only fixes the problem for 2 to 3 days. There is some type of short and I keep getting hit with a service charge every time the vehicle goes in for this. Also the driver side seat is showing some beyond normal wear and tear for a vehicle with only 25K. The leather seating surface is tearing at the seams and appears to be of very thin materials in the bolster area.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #4

Apr 162003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,268 miles
The vehicle's speed dropped dramatically, and then stalled. The vehicle experienced the following: The lights would come on, would not come out of park(repeatedly), lock up, sit for hours/frozen, start but not come out of park, ABS and epc light problems which was fixed under warranty and was told the overload problems should have been fixed, while driven, the vehicle dropped down to 30 mph and down to 20 mph on another occasion, the motor sounded loud and the vehicle had shaken, the dealer found three fault code for throttle control and faulty throttle body(dealer assured consumer that the problem wouldn't happen again), and the consumer was told that there was a misfire on all cylinders and that the plug wires were replaced. On one occasion where vehicle did not come out of park, the dealer suggested that the problem had come from the brake switch and assured that the freeze up(s) were solved. The vehicle sat for five hours, then the vehicle finally started and the dealer stated that the problem was the wiring harness to the ECM(the part had to be ordered).

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #3

Mar 032003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 13,500 miles
1 of the 4 ignition coils failed, the dealer refused to replace the other 3 until they fail.

- Swisher, IA, USA

problem #2

Oct 012002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
Vehicle experiencing electrical problems, any electrical problem with this vehicle activates the motor protection circuit, this circuit remaps the computer to shut off the turbo, this has occurred while the vehicle is in motion which caused a hazardous situation.

- Franklin Park, IL, USA

problem #1

Aug 222002

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vehicle has been in the shop for various electrical problems. During one situation vehicle shut down in the middle of the road with no warning. Other problems were immobilizer failed again, affecting electrical system. Also, front light covers were retaining water, causing a short.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

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