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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
76,851 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 Jetta electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Volkswagen Jetta Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #45

Feb 062014


  • 83,000 miles


I have a Jetta that continually burns out the fuse box, which just happened again. The fuse box to replace costs around $100. Everytime. Due to this problem I am encountering additional repairs. Ignition coil etc. I even went and purchase a new battery for $160. Car will not run? help.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #44

Feb 232014


  • 175,000 miles
Car had a burning smell coming from the engine. The engine light came on. While on the highway the car stopped moving forward and stalled in traffic, the battery light then came on. I turned the car off and restarted it. In a 30 mile round trip, this happened 3 times. Upon further inspection, the battery mounted fuse block had completely melted and was extremely hot.

- Westmont, IL, USA

problem #43

Feb 072014


  • 138,000 miles
The alternator cable got so hot it started a small fire in the fuse box on top of my battery. Completely melted/burnt the fuse box. I see there is a good pattern of this happening with these Jetta and beetles.

- Elsmere, KY, USA

problem #42

Feb 052014


  • 125,000 miles


TL- the contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph a burning plastic odor was present inside the vehicle before the passenger suddenly experienced a burning sensation coming from the seated area of the passenger seat. The contact indicated that the passenger side seat heater element had over heated causing a burn hole in the seat and causing a minor burn to the passenger. The contact stated that a small flamed to the passengers right pant leg had to be extinguished during the incident and the passenger seat burn hole measured approximately 1 inch in diameter. The vehicle was diagnosed at the dealer. The contact was informed that the defect was caused by a faulty heat element inside the seat. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but no solution was offered. The failure mileage was 125,000. Jft

- Wilmington , DE, USA

problem #41

Dec 262013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 89,235 miles
One of the two large cooling fans in the front of the engine failed. The part must be replaced to prevent engine overheating. The part number is 6X0-959-445-F.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #40

Dec 262013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 89,235 miles
The temp sender on my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta failed for the second time. The first failure occurred at approximately 38,000 miles in 2007.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #39

Dec 262013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 89,235 miles


The thermostat on my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta failed for the second time. The first time it failed as at approximately 40,000 miles in 2009.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #38

Jun 012011


  • 52,000 miles
The safety light on the interior of the front passenger door that lights up when the door is opened failed on my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The dealer stated that the problem was a failure in the front passenger door latch mechanism. The door latch mechanism was replaced, and was not covered under warranty.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #37

Sep 242011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
The rear O2 sensor on my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta failed causing the mil indicator to illuminate. The sensor had to be replaced, and is not covered under the extended warranty for emissions.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #36

Jan 242012

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
My 2003 Volkswagen Jetta has experienced a coil pack failure causing a reduction in power, and the engine to misfire. According to the Volkswagen dealer, the housing of the coil pack was cracked which allowed moisture to affect its operation. The dealer also stated that there is no recall or replacement program for 4 cylinder engines experiencing this problem.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #35

Nov 122012


  • 94,000 miles


All warning indicators (ABS, cel, airbag, ecp, battery and other instrument dash panel lights) would flicker repetitively until the car lost all power. After inspection of the engine compartment it was found that the alternator cable that attaches to the fuse box located on top of the battery was melting the fuse box and causing power distribution problems. The Volkswagen dealer recommended that they both be replaced as the cable could have become high resistance thereby causing excessive heat at the fuse box. I had the alternator cable replaced with an oem part and the fuse box with an aftermarket part. On 10-9-13 with 104K miles while driving to work at 6am in the morning, the exact same symptoms were experienced again. Luckily I was on a side road and was towed to a dealer which said that all oem parts should be used and that this is common as they had just replaced the alternator cable on another Jetta of the same generation. I requested the dealer check the entire electrical system including the alternator because the parts that were installed last year should not go bad in 1 year, the dealer said there was no other issue. I am not the only one experiencing a melting fuse box. At the links below are others who have experienced the same thing, even across other VW models. There seems to be a serious problem of melting of fuse boxes which can occur at any time the vehicle is in operation. (with pictures) forums.fourtitude.com/showthread.php"4562591 forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?4682918-why-S-my-fuse-box-melting newbeetle.org/forums/questions-issues-concerns-problems-new-beetle/28982-battery-fuse-box-melting-04-new-beetle.html forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?4705261-battery-light-flickering-on-acceleration forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php"4829541-burnt-black-cable-fuse-box-on-top-of-battery.

- Newton, NJ, USA

problem #34

Sep 302009


  • 40,000 miles
Rear passenger doors fail to respond to key fob. Stay locked/ unlocked.

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #33

Jun 092013


  • 145,000 miles
The car was parked for two days without being driven. While it was parked, neighbors ran over to report it was smoking under the hood. We saw that there were flames coming out from underneath the front of the car. Fire department came, but fire had already extinguished itself. Fire department disconnected the battery ground and said the wires going to the cooling fan had set on fire. All of this was spontaneous. Engine was not on.

- Newburyport, MA, USA

problem #32

Mar 012013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 153,000 miles
Both front seats, the bottom right side bolster burned. The heated front seats will over heat, the failure appears to be confined to the right bolster on the bottom section of the seat. The heating elements get hot enough to burn through the seat material. Being the side of the seat I was able to shift my leg away and power off the heated seat. If left on the seats will start to smoke. I consider this a safety issue, I haven't tried, but it seems as though the seat could catch on fire if left on. The local dealer's service rep said just unplug it the option.

- Milton, VT, USA

problem #31

Jan 262012


  • 120,000 miles
Driver's seat heater malfunctioned. Right side of seat has small burn marks, is discolored, has exposed elements, and seat foam is melted. Two pairs of pants obtained singe marks on separate occasions. I drive the car to and from the city via interstate for 40 minutes each way. Seat heaters are typically on for about 20 minutes. Beginning in November when I used the seat heaters I could smell a slight burning smell. Since it was the beginning of the winter season I figured it was just heated dust on my seats from being inactive all summer. The final time I used the seat heaters (1/26/12) the smell got so bad that I had to open the sun roof for air. I also noticed the seats got hotter than usual and wondered if my seat back was heating at all. As was usual when the seat was hot enough I would manually turn off the seat heater. I did not know what was happening until one day when I noticed brown marks on the right side of my pants. I then looked at the seat and saw the damage to the seat. The driver's seat element was replaced in May 2006, the passenger seat August 2006, due to previous recall/warranty service.

- Hugo, MN, USA

problem #30

Jan 242012


  • 122,000 miles
Hola mi hija tuvo una experiencie terrible con su auto.ella SE dirigia a la universidad en su auto Y de momento comenzo a salir humo pr el area donde esta el guia Y el conta milla mas O menos por lo poco que no pudo explicar por lo afectada que estaba.inmediatamente ella SE detuvo Y SE bajo de vehiculo para llamar a su papa Y jucto en ese momento SE incendio Y estamos seguros que fue un problema de fabrica para que SE incendiara de esa manera.gracias a dios que mi hija estaba fuera del vehiculo porque por lo que rapido sucedio no le hubiera dado de salir Y la historia hubiera sido otra.hago este reporte para que no vuelva a suceder algo asi.porque mi hija esta sumamente afectada. Muchas gracias por su atencion.

- Aguada, PR, USA

problem #29

May 022011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
My drivers side seat heater doesn't recognize the setting of 0-5. it's either on, or off. Meaning, 0-4 the seat heater doesn't heat the seat. But when I turn it to 5 on the setting within 10 minutes the seat gets so hot it burns my legs through clothing.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #28

Jan 312011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
My seat heater failed in my 2003 VW Jetta, burning a hole in the seat under my left [xxx]. I was startled when suddenly there a strong burning smell in the car, then a hot spot in the seat occurred which caused me to have to quickly shift my seating posting and I immediately turned off the seat heater. Luckily I was driving slowly in the city and able to pull in the in a parking spot quickly and the seat or my clothing did not catch on fire. The seat was set to 3 on a scale of 1-5. the car has about 125K miles on it. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Bainbridge Island, WA, USA

problem #27

Nov 052010

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
I am the owner of a 2003 VW Jetta. I was recently burned(11/2010) by the seat heater while driving and the car seat smelled like it was going to start on fire. My car had a recall not long after I bought it for the seat heaters. It is obviously a malfunction in the seat heater that VW has had numerous problems with based on the recall and the plethora of complaints on the internet. I can no longer use the heating unit. I took it to patrick motors in auburn, MA where I bought the car. They said it was out of warranty and they would charge me to look at it to see what the problem was and then maybe ask vwoa if they would help. I was not willing to pay more money for something that is obviously a manufacturing problem and has been documented as problematic.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #26

Aug 062010


  • 47,315 miles
(prior incident) 05/27/08 at 32K miles alternator harness burned and melted fuse panel (while car operating at low speed returning home from local trip). Fuse failed to prevent overheating of terminal connector on alternator harness at fuse panel. Current incident: 08/06/10 at 47K miles the alternator harness that had been replaced at 32K miles burned and melted fuse panel again, and alternator was also damaged requiring replacement (car failed to start at home after being parked overnight). Fuse again failed to prevent overheating of terminal connector on alternator harness at fuse panel.

- Fort Myers, FL, USA

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