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.

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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
83,736 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 Passat accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #11

Sep 032014


  • 116,000 miles


We were just leaving our friends house it was approx. 6am in morning little cold out so I turned on the seat warmers which is always nice touch to warm you up on those cold mornings, anyhow about 4-5minutes after seat warmers were turned on passenger side where I was sitting got rather warm and then hot and then actually start smoking and flames came out there was fire right under my bottom. I freaked out jumped out of seat..I was yelling fire fire fire you could smell plastic burning as it was smoking and boyfriend poured water on and smothered out the fire with his jacket I'm a bit leary of the car because I don't feel its safe. I had my boyfriend unplug harness under seat and now my air bag warning default light and bell stay on. I am shocked to see several other complaints regarding this issue and that VW people haven't addressed this. I feel this car is a death trap.very unhappy with this vehicle.

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #10

Sep 202013

Passat 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
On Sept 20 2013 my wife showed me a spring that came from under the drivers seat. Ironically the next day the airbag light came on and wont go off. About a month later a 2nd spring appeared in the will not pass inspection. VW really needs to address this.

- Va Beach, VA, USA

problem #9

Dec 032012

Passat 4-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
When I turn my heated seat on the driver's side past level 1, there is one spot on the seat that gets painfully hot. I usually turn the heat off at that point. Today I was so cold that I didn't want to turn the seat off, so I put my hand between the seat and my leg. When I took my hand out, it smelled like smoke. I called Volkswagen, and they don't have any recall on these seats. I thought they might make a concession since it is a possible safety issue, but they wouldn't do anything for me.

- Lima, OH, USA

problem #8

Oct 042011


  • 85,000 miles


Heated seat coils overheated and burnt seat on driver side. 1 year after recall was done by [xxx] VW brockton MA, they told me the heaters in the seat are no longer under warranty and told me to call VW usa with my problem, information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #7

Jan 072011

Passat 4-cyl

  • 112,347 miles
2003 Volkswagen Passat wagon with cloth heated seats. While using heated seat option, felt burning on right leg. Found seat heater had melted right bolster of seat cushion.

- Groveland, MA, USA

problem #6

Dec 042009


  • 33,197 miles
The driver's side seat heater in my 2003 VW Passat is a potential fire hazard. I noticed what looked like a cigarette burn on the left seat bolster (I do not smoke). The following day, I smelled something burning in the cabin. When I got out of the car, there was a second burn hole about a half inch from the first hole. I have stopped using the heater, but it is a potential fire hazard.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #5

Apr 082009


  • 76,900 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. While driving approximately 45 mph on normal road conditions, the driver's heated seat control module was activated. A high voltage of heat penetrated through the bottom of the seat and smoke suddenly appeared. The driver deactivated the heated seat control module. He burned his finger on the seat. The authorized dealer was notified of the malfunction. The manufacturer's customer satisfaction campaign M2 was referenced. The free remedy consisted of installing a repair kit for the heated seat. The remedy was performed on the vehicle in 2005; however, it was insufficient and did not prevent future failure. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 76,900 and current mileage was 77,000.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #4

Mar 242009


  • 92,400 miles
Vehicle was hit from the rear by another vehicle. Drivers seat slid all the way forward in its tracks and the seat back collapsed all the way flat. Seat integrity should be maintained in this type of incident.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jan 202009


  • 75,300 miles
Turned on driver side heater to level 3. felt a burning on the left side of the seat and smelled a burning odor aprox 30 seconds after starting car. Stopped car and found a small hole burned through the seat on the left rear side. M2 recall had already been checked at the dealer.

- Newton, MA, USA

problem #2

Aug 012008


  • miles
The car seat heater (driver's side) burned through the fabric, leaving 1 inch hole in the seat. There was no injury. This happened with normal use of the heater.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #1

Feb 242005


  • 61,949 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. While driving 35 mph, the contact smelled smoke and felt a tingling feeling on her back. She exited the vehicle and noticed small holes and smoke coming from the driver's seat. The manufacturer advised her to take the vehicle to the dealer for repair. The contact sent the receipt for her damaged fur coat and blue jeans to the manufacturer, but she has not received any reimbursement. The failure mileage was 61,949.

- Morris Town, TN, USA

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