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definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,100 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #12

Sep 032010

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,452 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the ABS warning light illuminated when the brakes were applied and the front of the vehicle vibrated violently. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the ABS module needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the vibrating continued. There was also a loud dinging noise followed by the warning light when the brakes were applied. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 87,452. Updated 04/15/11 updated 12/19/2011

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #11

Nov 012009

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) 2003, VW, Passat: A.)tie rod and B.)brake vacuum VIN: [xxx] 2006 VW recalls 06V472000 & 05V540000 are suspiciously the same problem as my 2003 Passat. Last trip to service dept revealed both problems. There has been no accident or injury to date.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #10

Mar 172007


  • miles
I purchased a certified used vehicle from Volkswagen in 2/07'. within the first month I began having problems with this vehicle. The laundry list, starting with the brakes, includes a leak in the trunk, entire brake replacement within the first year, several recalls, battery replacement, cracked valve cover, problems with engine coolant temp sensor, faulty ignition coils causing serious safety hazards as a result of the vehicle 'shaking' while on & potential to stall at any given time, a recent massive water leak inside interior of vehicle causing interior water damage as well as a build up of mildew and possibly mold as well as now causing the windows to fog up constantly due to moisture under floor mats, problems with left blinker, trouble starting, several current engine leaks to the extent of a few thousand dollars, automatic window problems, worn cv boots currently making a clicking noise; this being the major things that have occurred to date. In good faith, after a very scary ride this last January, I contacted VW of America in an attempt to notify them of the situation and was informed that they were not going to accept any responsibility for their product because I was out of a warranty that I was originally told (during time of sale) I did not have anyway. In addition, however, it was stated to me later by their representative that none of the items would have been covered anyway. I am a single mom in no financial position to hire an attorney or even pay for the cost this vehicle has incurred and while this is my only means of transportation I have no other option then to continue driving it. With that said however I strongly feel that given the current condition of this vehicle and the potential of anyone of these items to fail this vehicle is a safety hazard and given that I purchased this vehicle only 3 years ago this is an excessive amount of problems for it to have. I strongly feel at this time that VW sold me a lemon.

- Carmichael , CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 072009

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,100 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that a new pair of rare brakes failed on her vehicle after 14,952 miles. She usually gets over 36,000 miles on a pair of brakes. She stated that the brake pads failed and damaged the rotors. The contact feels that the pads are defective and should have lasted longer than 14,000 miles. She also feels that the dealer should cover the cost of the new pads. The current and failure mileages were 95,100. Updated 04/21/09. The serpentine belt was cracked, the power steering fluid was low, the vc boot and hood strut was replaced.. updated 04/21/09.

- Traduco Cannon, CA, USA

problem #8

Jan 182009


  • 113,000 miles
I own a 2003 VW Passat. Recently. I took my car for repair as my brakes were not responding on turns. The VW dealer investigated the issue and I was told that the "ABS control module" is not communicating for some reason. They suggested I replace the ABS control module for around $2,216 I called VW and asked them to look into the issue and see if they can cover the expenses of the repair since this is not a normal tear and wear issue. They responded by saying that since the car is not within the warranty period, they cannot cover the expenses of this repair. I feel that is a safety issue that VW of America needs to cover the repair for. In fact I think they should have been more pro-active and investigate the ABS control module in my care after they replace it to see if there is a major issue that can result in a recall. I understand that my car is not within warranty; but given the fact that this is a safety issue, I think VW should cover it and pay the repair cost.

- Allen, TX, USA

problem #7

May 172007


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat wagon. While attempting to accelerate from 5 mph, the vehicle would not move forward and began to vibrate. The contact pulled over and noticed a burning odor coming from the brakes. When he touched the wheels, they were extremely hot. The vehicle had stability control, traction control, and ABS. All four brakes were applied when he attempted to accelerate. The contact attempted to restart the vehicle. The ABS light illuminated along with another light (he did not remember which light). After he allowed the vehicle to cool down and attempted to start the engine, all of the lights illuminated on the instrument panel. He continued to drive, but the failure recurred. He took the vehicle to a Volkswagen dealer in Indiana and was instructed on where to find the fuse to deactivate the ABS, traction control, and stability control. The service manager stated that they had seen Audi experience the same failure with the same engine and features. The failure mileage was approximately 62,000.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 212004

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,145 miles


I bought my 2003 VW Passat wagon brand new. In a span of 3 years I have had to replace my rear rotors and brakes 4 times and have yet to replace the front rotors and brakes and the car is at 77,510. I had the left rear rotor replaced Jan. 21, 2004, the right rotor April 1, 2004, both left and right rotor Nov. 23, 2004, and then both again July 11, 2005. I was very concerned about this from the beginning and stressed the recurring issue with VW corporate since my warranty was running out and the problem was still persisting. When it happened again at my regular check up in June of 2005, after only 7 months and 11,427 miles from the last time I changed the brakes and rotors, I raised some red flags and suggested that I lemon law the car, VW researched and found that "there was excessive heat on my rear brakes and that my booster rod was bent and not releasing rear brake pressure completely". on July 11, 2005 VW replaced the brake booster, master cylinder, rotors, and brakes. Which brings us to the present, I took my car to get my regular service and find out that I have to change my front and rear brakes and rotors. The front I can understand given that it is now at 77,510, but the rear brakes and rotors again after 18,500 miles? I have always felt there is something very wrong with this car and after research on the web and finding others are having similar problems, I know there is something very wrong with this car and when it comes to the brake system there is definitely cause for concern. Though it has only been at inconvenience at this time, I would like it resolved asap. With the exception of the brake pads, VW have not charged me for the rotors and though they have said there is not a problem with the rear rotors and brakes and they have been paying for the changes even though it is after my warranty so that leads me to believe that there are many complaints like mine and there has to be a problem.

- Cardiff, CA, USA

problem #5

Jan 012005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Consumer disappointed in the quality and performance with braking system on 2003 Passat. The problem was with the front brake pads and rotors. There was also grinding in the rear brakes. The right headlight had gone out twice.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #4

Oct 072004

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,000 miles
Rear brake pads and disks worn out after 19000 miles. The front brakes are within spec. Dealer states it's normal for Passat, I don't think it's true. The front brakes are usually the first to engage, if needs a harder braking - then the rear brakes become active! did the VW re-invent the wheel"?" obviously there is a design flaw or manufacturing defect. I've had Japanese and american cars before - usually you have to service the rear brakes around 50K miles! as for the dealer - the service manager in this case - he conveyed some kind of nonsense just to get rid of me.

- Beverly Hills, MI, USA

problem #3

May 012004

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 18,500 miles
We purchased a new Volkswagen Passat station wagon from livonia Volkswagen autoplex (now thayer automotive livonia, Inc.) in July, 2003. At 18,500 miles, the car developed a rattle in the under carriage and the brakes were squeaky. We took it to the dealer and their service department stated that the car has aftermarket brakes that fit differently from VW brakes, hence the rattle. However, these are the brakes that were on the car when they sold it to us. We have contacted VW of America customer service on three occasions regarding this issue. They contacted the dealership and were told by the service dept. That the brake pads appeared "too new" to have 18,500 miles on them (implying that we have had the brakes replaced). Based on this, VW of America states they will not authorize VW brakes to be put on the car. We have not had the brakes on this car replaced or serviced in any way, and have never had the car serviced anywhere but this dealership. Incidentally, the day after the 10,000 mile service, the windshield fluid reservoir was empty, and the day after the brake inspection a hubcap flew off. This may speak to the skill and integrity of this service department. We filed a complaint with the Michigan department of state bureau of regulatory services who state that this matter was not in their jurisdiction because the dealership is no longer licensed by the state, and suggested we contact you. We bought this car in good faith, assuming, of course, that it was made of all VW parts. Apparently it is not. Currently, our new car has squeaky brakes, an increasingly loud rattle in the undercarriage, and a missing hubcap. VW of America will not help us. The sales manager and owner of the dealership do not return our calls. We would like VW brakes on our VW car, assurance that everything else on the car is, in fact, a VW product, and a hubcap replaced. A family who buys a new car about once every twelve years would appreciate help.

- Whitmore Lake, MI, USA

problem #2

Feb 252004


  • 18,000 miles
While driving 60 mph brakes operated poorly.

- Fairbanks, AK, USA

problem #1

Nov 232002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer stated the brake and accelerator pedals are designed too close together, when consumer attempted to apply the brake, the accelerator was also being applied.

- Dallas, TX, USA

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