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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 8
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
82,757 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 #51

Nov 072014


  • 120,000 miles


The alternator cable melted the fuse block and the car almost caught on fire.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #50

Aug 112014

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 154,000 miles
There is a fuse box on the top of my battery as there was for all MK4 Jettas, golf in all motor trims. The fuse box on top of the battery melted. When opened there was a black wire severed from the box. When turning the battery over the cable wire was arching. The wire was actually sparking. There are fuses in the original box but they never broke, tripped.

- Middletown, CT, USA

problem #49

Jul 312014


  • 112,432 miles
Battery fuse box melted. Engine overheated and cut off.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #48

Jun 092014

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 114,000 miles


Air conditioner stopped working. Found left fuse on fuse box on top of battery is black and melted.

- East Greenville, PA, USA

problem #47

Jun 182014

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
The rear door locks do not work with the key fob or the electrical switch ion the driver's door. This is a serious issue when you have children in the rear seat.

- Massapequa Park, NY, USA

problem #46

Jun 162014

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 116,898 miles
The day before the car quit, it would not start after being parked in the mall parking lot. A battery pack got it started, and it was driven home, with the thought that it needed a new battery. The following day, it was being driven to the local sears, for a replacement battery, when the ABS and airbag lights came on. 30 seconds later lots of warning lights came on, and the car sputtered and stopped dead in the lane of travel. It would not turn over, and power accessories would not work. I was stopped on a very busy 2 lane back road, with no shoulders or side streets, uphill, on a blind hill. After 1 1/2 hours of white-knuckle directing traffic, and calls to: My auto club, and the local police; a local police officer, and a local tow truck showed up and gave me a lift to my repair shop. The mechanic's diagnosis of the problem was a partially melted fuse pack, that sits on top of the battery, and an overly resistive cable between the fuse pack and the alternator. The solution was: The cable end linked to the fuse pack was re-terminated, and the melted fuse pack was replaced. Between the tow and the repair, it set me back about $300. I also found a blog that listed many other VW owners with the same problem: forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?4986219-fuse-box-above-battery-melting. I also discovered a class action law suit that was filed in 2012, that was based on this problem: gotaclassaction.com/Volkswagen-named-in-class-action-over-fuse-boxalternator-cable-assembly/. I hope that the current repair holds for the near future. Clearly, a fuse should blow before the overall fuse pack melts.

- Newtown Square, PA, USA

problem #45

Feb 062014

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 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

Jetta 6-cyl

  • 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

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