Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
124,111 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.

2003 Volkswagen Beetle engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #8

Oct 202015

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 189,000 miles


I was coming home from by ers appointment today and on the highway 2, toward home my car lost all power I had cars all over finally got off road. Would not start so had towed home. No reason for this. Date today October 20 2015 at 730 @ night. Cold by myself in car.....updated 01/13/16

- Newport, WA, USA

problem #7

Oct 152014


  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. While driving at 25 mph, the vehicle stalled and the contact noticed smoke coming from the front of the vehicle. The contact noticed that the fuse box was melted. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the fuse box needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, a few months later, here was smoke the contact noticed smoke and fire coming from the vehicle while it was parked. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 84,000.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #6

Mar 152014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
My daughter was driving her 2003 VW Beetle on the highway and noticed that she was having an issues with her RPM's revving very high. She pulled off the highway and shut the car off and restarted it after awhile. She got back on the highway and continued to drive home, her speed was roughly 65. All of a sudden her vehicle dropped her speed down to 50 causing her to almost be rear ended on the highway. This has happened at least 3 times. As she is away at college so her car is not driven much, so we are unsure if this is a constant issues. This is a safety issue with the vehicle and was taken to a car repair shop and we where told the transmission is having issues.

- Gloucester Point, VA, USA

problem #5

Apr 082015

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


Car stalled out in the middle of traffic and the epc code appeared.

- Milton, MA, USA

problem #4

Nov 142012

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
My car was purchased as a used car. I purchased it with 100000 miles (approx.), and I have put on 31000 additional miles since (within 5 years). My car has always been routinely maintained/serviced. I take excellent care of my Beetle. In November 2013, my automatic transmission began to slip. It has become worse, and it lurches forward will in drive, and at a controlled intersection my car either hesitates to take off or it rocks back and forth. This is a very expensive fix, having consulted two mechanics and receiving their estimates. I feel that this transmission issue poses a safety hazard for myself, other drivers, and pedestrians who may be crossing in front of my lurching vehicle. I think that with the multitude of 2003 transmission issues/failures, VW needs to stand behind their faulty product with a recall.

- Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #3

Aug 202013


  • 123,000 miles
I am the third owner and I should have cked this car out since the person who sold it too me didnt tell me a thing about the car.I am so dicusted about this adorable looking car. I only drove it once and took it too our mechanic. Wished I had taken it there first$800 later and just the beginning! I paid too much to begin with. Ipaid $4500 for a 2003 VW because it was cute! so I wish VW would help us american people. I want to drive my car but have only driven it once.! help !! still at the mechanics! wish people could be honest ! this would not happened in the 60"S. we have a good mechanic! thank god!

- Pismo Bch, CA, USA

problem #2

Oct 102012


  • 114,385 miles
I own a 2003 VW new Beetle convertible with an automatic tiptronic transmission. Recently, at random times, when shifting between 3rd and 4th gear the engine would rev up past 4000 RPM and jump into gear. Essentially a very hard shift. With plans to keep this vehicle for many years to come, I immediately took the vehicle to a trusted mechanic. After test driving and experiencing the "hard shift", I was informed that it was most definitely transmission related, however, only VW can access the transmission due to the fact that it is completely sealed. The vehicle was taken to a david maus Volkswagen of orlando for the diagnostic. I was informed that the transmission was "coming apart from the inside" and that it was a "ticking time bomb". because the vehicle is over 100000 miles, it does not fall under the transmission valve body recall. The repair cost for a new transmission is $6000. I feel that this is gross negligence on the part of Volkswagen of America, to knowingly place this vehicle with such a major defect on the marketplace. I now have an unusable hunk of scrap metal sitting in my garage for fear of the time bomb under the hood. I refuse to drive this car and potentially put others lives at risk. Volkswagen needs to be held responsible for knowingly putting a car with such a major defect on the road.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #1

Aug 162012

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 96,503 miles
The 2003 VW Beetle has started to slip at 96,500 miles going from 2nd to 3rd gear. I have done alot of online research and there are several forums and thousands of similar cases as the one I am having. I called VW of America customer care and talked to tim and he said because the car was out of warranty they could not do anything. I mentioned that the problem seems to be the valve body and he agreed but still could not help me. Further research led to me finding a class action suit agains VW America for exactly this problem. Since there are so many documented cases, I feel there should be a recall immediately as this can lead to a serious safety issue on the road. Worse yet, VW knows about it and is not doing anything! please help.

- Davie, FL, USA

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