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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 8
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,488 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.

2002 Volkswagen Passat electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #52

Sep 162015


  • 122,000 miles


While driving at 75mph or in city traffic I get an alarm warning that my driver's door is open. To shut the loud warning off, I must open and close the door while going 75mph or in traffic. Either I open the door while driving or pull over on the side of the highway with traffic, I find this very dangerous!!! this happens daily this is my second VW Passat that the door latch has failed and was told this a common problem with Volkswagen this should be a recall because of the dangers of having to open the door to reset the latch electrical switches that are defective!!!

- Nederland, CO, USA

problem #51

Aug 282014

Passat 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
I was driving the car about 30 minutes prior to incident traveling at approximately 45 mph with my child in the car and without warning of any kind my car shuts off and I almost got rear ended. I was able to coast to the side of the road put the vehicle in park tried starting the vehicle and it started right away. I drove vehicle home without incident. I took the vehicle to a mechanic and they couldn't find a problem no engine codes where present. I drove the vehicle for a week and this same scenario played out again I wasn't driving the car any further at this point because again I had my child in the car and again also got rear ended. Had it towed to a different mechanic and they to were unable to find any engine codes or problems. I had my boyfriend drive the car home and it stalled on him at a red light. Car wouldn't restart so he had to push the vehicle across a lane of traffic to the shoulder of the road. When the car cooled down for 2 hours it restarted and drove fine no check engine light or codes present.. after a month of headaches with the car we discovers it was a faulty engine speed sensor this is a very dangerous part to fail without warning leaving the car powerless if this happened on the freeway I wouldn't have been so lucky I imagine.

- Hemet , CA, USA

problem #50

Jun 022014


  • 135,000 miles
Car beeps and displays the ABS light and the brake light. At first they appear and then disappear. On 6/12/2014 the ABS is on each time I start the vehicle plus the brake light flashes throughout the duration of the drive. On two occurrences the traction control off light came on and remained on. The fear is that I have lost ABS and traction control, and also that the E-brake or brakes will engage while in motion. Multiple occurrences of this have occurred in VW Passat forums and most suggest taking out the ABS module and having it refurbished due to a hair sensor that goes faulty on the Passat. Many requests have been made to have this part recalled and fixed, I am adding my request to the other parties involved.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #49

Aug 142013

Passat 4-cyl

  • 128,800 miles


In August of 2013, while backing out of a driveway, I experienced a total loss of braking. After examining the car, I discovered that the plenum that holds the battery and brake booster was nearly filled with rain water. It was necessary for me to remove one of the duck-billed drain plugs in the plenum as all were clogged with debris, preventing water from draining out. The flooded plenum appears to have resulted in water being drawn through the vacuum lines when attempting to brake. This, in turn, caused a significant amount of water to be drawn into the crankcase. Water was also drawn into the cylinders resulting in misfiring. After removing at least one drain plug in the plenum for proper drainage, and double flushing the contaminated oil in the crankcase, I experienced no further braking problems until freezing weather in November 2013. In November, while braking near the bottom of a hill, I again experienced a hard pedal with no depression and almost no braking ability, resulting in the car going into the intersection before fully stopping. The car was towed to the Volkswagen dealership for repair. Two weeks later, there was again the symptom of a hard pedal? with no depression and near loss of all braking. The car was again returned to the Volkswagen dealership for repair. This time, the vacuum booster, the vacuum pipes, and their related items were replaced. As noted in the dealership invoice, evidence of water was found in the replaced vacuum booster. The dealership acknowledged that the plenum had a significant high-water pollen line, indicating flooding of the plenum. It was believed by their service department staff that the brake failures in November and December 2013 were likely the result of residual water freezing in the vacuum booster, causing the booster to be inoperative. Also, the ignition coils were replaced. Updated 01/30/14 the consumer stated the insufficient fix during the 2008 campaign did not resolve the problem. It allowed for continued flooding of the plenum compartment and subsequent brake failures. Updated 02/19/14 updated 03/13/14 updated 05/12/14 updated 06/25/14

- West Milford, NJ, USA

problem #48

Jan 272011

Passat 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
I was driving at night and pulled over because my car had no operating tail lights (the headlights and other front lights were working properly). Turning the lights off and then back on solved the problem temporarily, but further testing when I returned home revealed that the tail lights were not always turning on with the rest of the lights. An internet search revealed this is a relatively common problem for these cars and that a failed headlight switch is the culprit. Replacing the switch solved the problem.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #47

May 152011

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,500 miles
I'm the original owner of a 2002 VW Passat 1.8T/automatic transmission with 97,500 miles which had underdash electrical fire while running the car and now is a total loss. The car was in very good condition prior to the events. Electrical underdash fire started very fast with smoke coming from driver vent. After searching on the internet appears this is a very common problem, an not many people really report the car fire.

- Pr, PR, USA

problem #46

May 252011

Passat 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


Traveling down the street and smelled smoke. Smoke began emitting from under the dash and vehicle cut off. Fire department was called and extinguished the fire. Vehicle was a total loss.

- Statesville, NC, USA

problem #45

Mar 052011

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
My complaint is more general in nature. I purchased a 2002 Volkswagen Passat in 2001. This was the first car I purchased brand new. As I think back over the time that I've had this vehicle and reading the complaints that have been logged in on this site, I can't help but think that Volkswagen should offer some type of substantial "hardship" reimbursement besides repairs and such. In the time that I've had this vehicle, I've had the following incidents occur: 1. have a control unit replaced (horn not working, unable to roll down windows, etc..) 2. replace ignition coil (stop motor status light coming on as I'm driving in the midst of traffic) 3. had undershield fall forward as I was driving on the state highway, pretty much scooping up potential debris from the roadway surface. 4. damage to engine from oil sludge and oil pump replacement no less than three times. (stop motor light again) 5. interior of car flooded and frozen over from sunroof flaw and electronics are affected... just on merits of being able to provide proof of ownership of the vehicle and showing that these services were indeed rendered at a Volkswagen authorized repair facility, I believe that at minimum, Volkswagen should agree to reimburse all expenses, no questions asked. It's become clear that the quality of these vehicles was substantially sub-par and poorly designed all things considered. The car is currently in my parents driveway, as the last time the oil pump went caused so many issues that I ended up not being able to drive the car (live and work out of state now and registration expired the same month the pump went then couldn't afford insurance after repairs). To add insult to injury, I didn't receive the claim notice about fixing the sunroof issue until a year later, as it went to my old address and now it's too late to even file the claim. All I want is have a reliable car to operate without worrying about if I'm gonna have skip lunch because I spent all my money on repairs.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #44

Jan 022011

Passat 6-cyl

  • 159,056 miles
2002 VW Passat 2.8 V6. Ignition coil pack shorting out( can see streaks of electricity on all three coils at night along sides of coils - - when looking into dark engine compartment ). car misfires upon acceleration and at idle. It has stalled twice and seems to be very unreliable. I have ordered a new coil pack and will not drive the car until I replace this coil pack. I called the local V.w. dealer and they said no recall for the 2.8 V6 30 valve engine - called V.w. of America and I was told the same thing. I will keep the old coil pack in hope that V.w. will re-imburse me the price of my new coil pack - it is very easy to change.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #43

May 102010

Passat 6-cyl

  • 48,946 miles
We own a 2002 VW Passat wagon and are so happy with it we bought another one with lower mileage. Shortly after buying the second VW the engine warning light came on the first vehicle. Our mechanic said it was the ignition coil pack - $600 to replace. Car had over 120,000 miles so we weren't unduly alarmed, and paid it. Three weeks later engine warning came on again. Took it to a different garage - one that used to be the local VW dealer - and they said the ignition coil was bad again. We assumed the replacement part had turned out to be bad so paid another $600 to have it fixed. Took the old part back to the original garage but the mechanic did nothing about it. 'chalked it up to experience. Three months later the engine warning light came on the second VW. Took it to the second mechanic and he said - voila! - ignition coil bad again! paid another $600 to get it replaced, and then went home to research it online. Was stunned to see all the problems listed about the ignition coil pack. Called VW and asked for reimbursement for two of the three ignition packs but was told our vws were not listed in the correction bulletins. They also denied there was a recall even though their own pr department had sent out a press release saying all 2002 V6 Passats had been recalled due to this problem. I have called VW several times and found their 'customer advocates' to be very courteous and polite but absolutely stonewalling any reimbursement. When pressed was finally told I needed the old ignition packs, the repair bills (original only, no copies) and could send all to them and they would consider it but would probably not make an adjustment!

- Harbor, OR, USA

problem #42

Aug 252010


  • 140,000 miles


2002 VW Passat engine fire while driving. Shop said it looks like it started in the wiring harness. No injuries, vehicle total loss. One owner, well cared for. I purchased this vehicle new, intending to drive it a long time. Not a good investment.

- Decatur, IL, USA

problem #41

Jul 102010


  • 70,100 miles
Turn signal produces continuous turn signal noise after use of the turn signal. This is a significant distraction while driving and discourages use of the turn signal. This has been a persistent problem.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #40

Jan 302010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
2002 Passat wagon, automatic transmission, accelerator pedal became stuck while getting on highway during a cold morning. Brakes were non-responsive even when car was put into neutral. Car continued to accelerate, driver put car into a lower gear which slowed down the car a bit and finally put the transmission in "park". this caused the car to eventually stop. To get off the highway, driver slowly drove off onto the exit ramp after calling 911 and being advised to get off the highway which had no shoulder. After that the car and brakes appeared to function normally. The next morning car would not start due to the battery being drained and was towed to VW mechanic. After being inspected for 2 days the mechanic did not find anything wrong with the accelerator or the breaks and there was no evidence that the pedal got stuck on the floor mat. No error codes were found on car's computer. We had had no prior problems with the car other than a dash message indicating a break fault would occasionally light up on cold wet days. The VW mechanic could never find anything wrong with the breaks after repeated visits and attributed the message to a computer glitch. After the incident with the accelerator we traded the car in for a new one of a different make since we did not feel safe driving it, despite assurances that nothing unusual was found with the car.

- Private, RI, USA

problem #39

Dec 012007

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
2002 Volkswagen Passat has engine problems. The consumer stated the vehicle has not been driven in a year and a half due to the oil sludge and misfiring problems. The catalytic converter failed and the spark plugs and coil packs were constantly being replaced.

- Earlton, NY, USA

problem #38

Jul 272009


  • 126,945 miles
I was driving my 2002 Passat 1.8T for a approximately 30, reaching my house the car started sputtering and acting weird. Once I parked in my driveway and open the hood the engine was on fire for no apparent reason. The car was running perfectly fine for the first 30 minutes and then was on fire.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #37

Mar 292009


  • 93,000 miles
Loss of engine power check engine light comes on I shut engine off one ignition coil starts to smoke and start on fire along with coil electrical lead.

- Northport, NY, USA

problem #36

Oct 252008


  • 104,000 miles
I was at the trying to find a parking spot when suddenly my check engine light came on and started blinking. I lost alot of power and could not accelerate. I then had to have the vehicle towed to my home because I was afraid of causing any further damage to the vehicle. The next day I contacted the dealership and explained the situation. They then informed me that many of these types of vehicles have been repaired due to the proarising from a faulty ignition coil or coil pack and I was told that the cost to repair it would be between $350-$500 to remove and replace faulty ignition coils (4). After further looking into the problem through numerous websites I noticed the same exact problem happening consistently to many owners of such vehicles.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #35

Oct 052008


  • 68,000 miles
Turn signal/hazard relay switch failed while driving, no turn signals...find out there has been a recall on the 2002 jetta and golfs but not on the Passat, same switch in all the cars made by VW...this is a huge hazard, why hasn't VW recalled the 2002 Passats as well?

- Kirkwood, CA, USA

problem #34

Jun 252008


  • 79,000 miles
My 2002 VW Passat initially blew the #5 fuse which controls the A/C, steering wheel items (horn, volume control, etc.) and items on the driver side sun visor. The fuse was replaced and subsequently I experienced smoking in the area of the sun visor. Removing the visor, I noticed frayed wiring and burnt wiring insulation. In addition there was sparking inside the roof area. I took the car to the dealer and they cut the frayed wire and taped it up, with a more complete repair to come in a couple of days. Driving the car home later that day the car started smoking again with the addition of crackling sounds. I had the car towed to the dealer that evening. The dealer is now looking at the wiring and has found at least one wire leading from the visor area all the way down to the fuse box which is bare because it's insulation has been burned off. The fuse that should have blown was melted into the fuse box. The burned wire has also burned off insulation on other wires which were touching the damaged wire. The dealer is trying to track down all the wires that may have been damaged. Current cost is approximately $2400 with Volkswagen agreeing to pick up $900 of the cost. Based on internet research, there have been other reports of frayed wiring in the visor area of the 2002 Passat. I have numerous postings by people who have blown the fuse and had their visors replaced. Others have pulled down the visor and taped up the frayed wiring in their visor. I believe this to be a design or manufacturing flaw and I believe that my visor wiring has been fraying for some time prior to the catastrophic failure.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #33

May 082007

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that his vehicle caught fire with flames rising approximately three feet above the hood. The fire and police departments arrived at the scene. A police report was filed. The fire was extinguished, however, the vehicle was destroyed. The contact has not spoken with the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 91,000. Updated 01-15-08. * bf the fire was due to an electrical short in the ground of an electrical harness. The wiring shorted out against the vehicle's steel cowl with temperatures high enough to weld the 12 gauge against the body panel. Updated

- Medford, NJ, USA

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