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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
41,958 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 #12

Jan 122015

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 115,045 miles


I received a coupon in the mail from midas for $19.95 oil change with coupon.the coupon specified to bring coupon with me to a midas mechanic shop to get the $19.95 oil change.I went to midas at 4480 S babcock street, melbourne Florida and I presented the coupon. The manager asked me did you bring your own synthetic oil like you use to, I responded no I have a coupon.he printed the receipt for $19.95, and I signed. I use to buy my own synthetic oil and midas charged me $19.95 for oil change at same rate they charge for regular oil change.midas always advertised outside their shop an oil change for $19.95. This price is without a coupon. As the mechanic drove my car into the shop for oil change, I reminded the mechanic my car takes only synthetic oil. He told the manager/owner and came back to tell me they are going to put syntactic oil. So he started changing the oil. After he was done the mechanic told me to go and pay for the oil change. The manger/owner asked for my credit card and he did all the transactions and hand me the receipt in a envelop. As I am leaving the shop I took the receipt out of the envelop and found out the manager/owner charged me $62.66 for oil change without saying a ward to me.he should of told me to come back and sign anther agreement for the $62.66 but he choose not to because he wanted to make more money and if he told me I would of said no, and I would of told him I want to comeback with my own synthetic oil. The owner wanted me to bring the car back so he could take his syntactic oil out and put regular oil instead in my car even though he knows my car does not use regular oil. I replied you would break my car and might do something to the engine that could cause danger to me and others if breaks in the middle of the road. I refused to let him put regular oil in my car for fear of mechanical damage to my car.

- Melbourne, FL, USA

problem #11

Mar 182013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
I just bought a Volkswagen new Beetle, 03. The smell makes me physically ill to be in it. The day after I bought it, I had the cabin filter changed and it still smells. This smell is a chemical smell and my throat started hurting and swelled up. I saw a doctor and she could not identify the problem but added that my throat was filled with puss. I stopped driving it and asked my husband to drive it. He is now complaining that he is having headaches and having new allergies after just one week. We called VW who said it was a rust proofing material that they used to put on the car and that nothing could be done. But I have been reading many websites that say it is a parafin sound proofing mat under the carpet. This material is being removed by VW for some people after contacting NHTSA. There are many posts online concerning this chemical smell (like burned crayons). I am concerned for my family's health. I have 3 kids who have to ride in the car as well. I want VW to remove the parafin sound proofing mat at VW cost.

- Round Rock , TX, USA

problem #10

Mar 232012

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 82,345 miles
As I turned off the 4 lane highway onto our local street I heard a loud noise, I thought I had blown a tire. I pulled into our driveway, about 30 yards further, and saw nothing. Fortunately, we have a Nissan dealership whose parking lot has an entry across the street from our driveway. I drove to them very slowly as car was making terribly noises. I also found a broken off bolt about 1/2 inch diameter in the road just before our driveway and took it to Nissan. Nissan found that both engine mounts were broken. They felt one had broken and the weight of the engine falling had broken the second. My engine was "sitting on top on my exhaust" if this had happened on a high speed road -- the highway I had just turned off of --- I may have caused a serious accident with fatalities. I have reported to both my local VW dealership where the car has been serviced as well as the VW national office. Neither would pay for my $800 repair, both said there were no recalls on my model. I maintain my car and feel this is terrible that something like this can happen. If the bolts are broken --which is what Nissan says/ not rusted --- then the bolts are defective!!!! it was so fortunate that the engine dropped when it did and not on a highway!!!

- Hightstown, NJ, USA

problem #9

Mar 192003


  • 1 miles


From day one this car had transmission problems which were denied by the dealer on 5 visits, after I sold the car I received a recall from VW, now that I am looking at blogs they have apparently recalled this recall to suit them. Other complaints with this vehicle are window troubles, convertible roof troubles, electronic troubles, seatbelt troubles, airbag troubles. I can't believe anyone will allow this car to still be sold or on the road. It is a safety hazard on wheels.

- Alta Loma, CA, USA

problem #8

Dec 052011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
This car was purchased new and within three months had to have the transmission replaced under warranty. Recently it started to lurch at stops and starts, and the diagnosis was a failed valve body on the transmission. The transition company referred me to websites where there are multiple complaints for this exact problem with this model. I called Volkswagen in mi and was told there had been a warranty extension, of which I was not informed, but that it would not apply to me now. It appears to me that the frequency of this problem warrants a look at this model and its transmission. The dealer warned my transition specialist that the repair which has been frequent only works about 50% of the time. I asked if it is safe to drive as is and was warned only for short distances. It appears to E that this should have triggered a recall or a class action suit.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #7

Sep 292011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. While the contact was driving approximately 50 mph there was an unexpected loss of engine power without prior warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who stated the timing belt broke which caused extensive damage to the engine. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated the vehicle exceeded the service warranty. The failure mileage was 94,000. Updated 10/31/11 updated 11/14/11

- Beacon, NY, USA

problem #6

Sep 062011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 60 miles


Recall on airbag crash sensor back in 2008, which we had replace. However this problem constantly happen were the air bag crease sensor lights comes on and stays on. When you call the dealership they wants to charge the consumer. There is always a jerking in the power transmission while driving. This is dangerous you would think the car is going to stop going up hill. I made a complaint back in 2009 complaint #102868 never received a response.

- Perris, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 062011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,500 miles
My 2003 new Beetle convertible with a 2.0 automatic transmission (code: Ggz) has a bad transmission that needs to be replaced and I see many other people are having the same problem. I cannot afford $6,000 for a new transmission and $3,500 for used. The used transmissions have more miles than my poor car. I want to file a complaint against VW.

- Palm Springs, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 152010


  • miles
I have a 2003 conv/new Beetle 1.8T engine 69,200 mi. It's had regular oil changes, garaged kept and low mileage less than 10,000 mil per yr. Per the VW service dept it has sludge build up. To my understanding other 2003 new Beetle owners have had the same problem. Very costly to fix. Per VW it's out of warranty and it's nothing they can do.

- Keswick, VA, USA

problem #3

Dec 252007


  • miles
2003 Volkswagen Beetle began to spark while driving. Consumer stated that she pulled over and then it caught fire. The fire started in the engine compartment. Ohio traffic crash report # 10-91-0903

- Youngstown, OH, USA

problem #2

Feb 012004

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen news Beetle. While driving 3 mph or greater, the vehicle would shut off without warning. The dealer was unable to diagnose the failure however; they have replaced the wiring harness. The failure continued to occur. As of October 9, 2007, the dealer had not repaired the vehicle. The failure mileage was 3,000 and the current mileage was 37,000.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #1

Sep 152005

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 38,547 miles
Oil light was coming on for no reason. It was full of oil the dealer replaced the sensor and in a month it was doing it again but this time the temperature light was coming on and staying too.

- North Augusta, SC, USA

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