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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,730 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #8

Apr 172015


  • 100,000 miles


Air bag warning light diagnosed at service by dealer (campbell/nelson VW) indicated that a sensor or switch located in the driver-side seatbelt latch was defective and even when the seatbelt was latched, the airbag would not deploy. This turned out to be a $400 repair and I believe it should be considered for a recall.

- Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #7

Oct 302014


  • miles
First I must ask myself why am I wasting my time again? you can write to NHTSA all you want and explain your complaint / defect but that's as far as it goes, they never respond and nothing gets repaired for free unless numerous accidents happen and people get hurt or worse yet die!

- Viroqua, WI, USA

problem #6

May 012014


  • 49,200 miles
The front passenger seat belt would not unlatch. Passenger had to climb out from underneath. Call to the VW dealership yielded comment from service department "sometimes the seat belt latch breaks; you need to bring it in and have it replaced (at my cost)". on May 14, 2014 I had the service repair done. Mileage was 49,486. Cost was $292.16. Service was done by jim ellis Volkswagen marietta, 1860 cobb parkway, marietta, ga 30060. I think this is a safety defect. If we had been in an accident, my passenger would not have been able to get out of the car; this would have been life-threatening, they could have died. I think Volkswagen should make a recall of 2003 Beetle convertibles and replace the latch and sensor (to airbag) at no charge to owner.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #5

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 #4

Mar 302011


  • 136,300 miles
When the engine was started, the air bag warning light illuminated on the instrument panel and stays illuminated until the engine is turned off. The seat belt light goes off after the car is started even when no seatbelts are put on. The VIN was not included in recall 08V178000, although the failure symptoms seem similar.

- Barkhamsted, TN, USA

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problem #3

Dec 072010


  • 43,000 miles
I own a 2003 VW Beetle, the seat belt buckle has wires connected to it, this wires snapped on their own. My airbag light turned on, for approximately 4 months I had this light on in my car. Through research in the internet, I found out that the seat belt was the problem. It seems that there was a defect with the seat belt buckle, lots of Beetle owners had this problem. I contacted VW and they refused to take any responsibility. Information provided indicates that when the airbag light is on the airbags will not deploy in an accident. Please look in to this matter. Thank you.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #2

Apr 152009


  • 60,280 miles
1. my airbag light in my car came on. 2. I took it to a repair shop that found the seatbelt sensor had gone bad thus causing the airbag light to come on and the airbags would not deploy in the case of an accident. 3. the seatbelt was replaced so that the sensor would again be working correctly and the airbags would be deployed in the case of an accident. As the seatbelt mechanism was working fine, but just a tiny sensor on the seatbelt arm went bad, it caused my airbags to be deactivated. There should be a lifetime warranty on such safety parts such that there is never a failure to deploy airbags or an issue with seatbelts. The auto repair employees said they have replaced hundreds of these seatbelts in vws for the very same reason I had.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #1

Dec 052007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,056 miles
I was involved in a crash while driving my 2003 VW Beetle convertible. I was unable to brake and avoid a semi-truck that was in directly in front of me. I was traveling at a speed between 30-40 mph but did lose conscience so am not sure if remember exactly how fast I was going. My airbag did not deploy and my seat belt did not lock causing my face to slam directly into the steering wheel. The passenger side airbag which contained no passengers nor items did deploy. I suffered facial fractures and a broken nose. My fractures have healed but my nose needs to be reconstructed. My car was serviced at a collision center and then sent to the autobarn in countryside, il where the car was bought used in August of 2006. The car was returned to me on Dec 27 but no explanation was given for the airbag not deploying. The transmission was also not working properly so I returned the car for additional service a few days later. The car was finally returned to me 2 weeks later with a new transmission but still no explanation for the airbag. Upon leaving the autobarn on January 17 with my car, the air bag light turned on and stayed on while I drove about 10 miles. I returned the car the next day and the service department stated the light did not go on for them and offered again no explanation.

- Lombard, IL, USA

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