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10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
7 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,429 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #14

Aug 052016

Passat

  • 107,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Teenage son lost control of the vehicle on the highway. Vehicle was then involved in a front impact collision at highway speeds with the side of a flatbed truck. Bumper, headlight assemblies pushed up into the engine compartment. Drivers side curtain airbags deployed. Neither driver side or passenger side front air bags deployed. Vehicle was declared a total loss.

- Cameron Park, CA, USA

problem #13

Jul 302015

Passat

  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 15V483000 (air bags); however, the part to do the recall repair was unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was not aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. VIN tool confirms parts not available.

- Greenville, AL, USA

problem #12

Sep 032014

Passat

  • 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 burning.my 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 #11

Sep 202013

Passat 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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 floorboard.car will not pass inspection. VW really needs to address this.

- Va Beach, VA, USA

problem #10

Feb 122011

Passat 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that another vehicle crashed into the front end of her vehicle and the air bags did not deploy. She also mentioned that the seatbelts did not retract on impact. As a result, her head hit the steering wheel, causing a concussion. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and current mileages were 86,000. Updated 4/11/2011 the consumer also stated the seat belts did not lock in to place. Updated 04/22/11

- Dalton , GA, USA

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problem #9

Jan 012008

Passat

  • 83,500 miles
Following routine maintenance of my vehicle, (tune-up, including replacement of spark plugs and ignition harnesses) my repair shop mechanic reported that the airbag warning light came on and stayed on. He said he was unable to turn it off. I then took the vehicle to a factory-authorized VW dealer and was told the problem was caused by low voltage to the airbag unit, that the battery tested low at $12.04 volts and they could not reset the code without replacing the battery. I approved new battery purchase, but dealer was unable to make warning light go out, despite recoding the controller. Dealer claimed further testing revealed airbag unit controller had failed and would require replacement at parts cost of $798. I declined to pay that amount. In reply to my question, service rep said he was unable to confirm that airbag(s) would deploy in case of an accident. Since they I have driven vehicle for about one month, and each time I start vehicle a warning sounds, the "airbag failure" notice comes up on the dashboard and the airbag warning signal stays on constantly. I telephoned VW customer service to complain and was told there was no recall on this problem and that since vehicle was nearly 6 years old and out of warranty I would need to assume cost of repair/unit replacement. I said I thought this was a safety failure with vehicle becoming out of compliance with federal safety requirements through no fault or malpractice of the owner (myself) and that VW should assume cost of repairs. Customer service rep said they would look into it and reply. So far no response. Vehicle continues to display airbag warning light.

- Lyme, NH, USA

problem #8

Aug 022003

Passat

  • 2,300 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Brake failure light appears even after multiple brake repairs. Driver"S side rear upper brake light replaced for 29th time in less than 2 yrs. Multiple coolant leaks still present even after repair and water pump replacement. Radio/amplifier not functioning even after replacement (radio was only used twice in vehicle"S lifetime). Diagnostics show airbag malfunction. Regulator pin on rear passenger side window keeps breaking (3rd replacement since 2003). Engine cover below car keeps falling off due to rusted bolts. Homelink system keeps malfunctioning. Fuses keep blowing out. Dashboard panel lights out (odometer, fuel gauge, etc.). ccm module keeps breaking down. Car needs to be jumpstarted when not in use for over 48 hrs. Climate control (A/C and heater) works only sporadically. All repairs performed by VW dealership, yet same issues keep reappearing just a few weeks after repairs. Repairs performed in past 2 years: ECU unit replaced, brake light switch replaced 3 times, A/C compressor unit replaced, ABS module replaced, alternator replaced, brakes replaced 3 times.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #7

Nov 262008

Passat

  • 29,000 miles
I have an air bag failure which will prohibit me from passing the state safety inspection. The air bag repair is over $1000. Is there a waiver or a process to dispute this" are there resources to help consumers in these type of cases"

- Ashland, MA, USA

problem #6

Nov 112006

Passat

  • 130,000 miles
Radio not functioning, air conditioning unit works intermittently, airbag malfunction recognized, operation unit in steering wheel malfunctions, no communications with brake control unit, brake light switch causes drivers side brake light to malfunction. Horn not functioning nearly caused 2 accidents within a month. I drove over an island to avoid one collision from the other non-attentive driver and ended up scraping the transmission pan. Cost of replacement: $550. After thousands of dollars in repairs and diagnostics, VW dealerships still unable to fix any of the above!

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #5

Nov 172006

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
I've spent over $8000 towards VW dealership attempts at fixing the horn, radio, homelink, climate control (A/C and heat) rear passenger side window, heated seats, dashboard panel lights, and defroster flap. VW replaced ABS and brake light module, but only fixed the horn. VW stated they are not responsible even after I paid for them to fix the above problems and they are still unable to determine the cause of the problems. I request reimbursement from Volkswagen for the repair attempts and related expenses. Current vehicle mileage: 127,000.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 272007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I have a 2003 VW Passat. I've had two leaks into the front right floorboard in the past six months from either a sunroof drain line or a air conditioner. The leaks have produced so much water that it has gone to right back floorboard. The plastic on the interior is worn off. The ashtray fell apart. They can't seem to get the alignment right so I keep going through tires and the tires I do have sound uneven when I rotate them, making me think there's a problem. Hove replaced the headlights three times in 1 and 1/2 years. There's a defect investigation into fires in the engine and a recall on oil sludge. This car is an accident waiting to happen and it's very poorly engineered. One thing after another. VW has on a bunch of recalls already on this model, to many for me to feel safe with. I'm abandoning the car today, trading it in for something else. Will never buy a VW again. No car should have this many issues. And the issues continue to roll in. Now the airbag light just came on...another thing to have to worry about!!!

- Elkins, WV, USA

problem #3

Jan 152003

Passat

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
Following is NHTSA complaint: Make: Volkswagen model: Passat year : 2003 crash : no fire : no number of injuries: 1 ODI id number: 10023337 date of failure: January 18, 2003 component: Air bags details: The driver's side head airbag (air curtain) of a 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 sedan deployed spontaneously while I was driving the car. A few minutes later, when the car was stopped, the steering wheel airbag deployed spontaneously. I suffered a permanent wrist injury and am suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. The incident, which happened during a test drive, was reported to the management of the VW dealership for which I was working and to VW of America by the management. I sent a detailed incident report to both vwoa and vwag (germany) CEO's. a VW customer service representative admonished me to not make a fuss about the incident, saying it was a once-in-A-lifetime occurrence and advised me that my letter to the vwoa CEO had been received but that he had not read it. The owner of the dealership advised me in a special meeting that he had been contacted by a vwoa management representative who was unhappy with the complaints I had made to the customer service representative about the lack of follow-up by VW and the means of alerting VW owners about the incident I was considering. I left the meeting believing my job and future in the car business, at least selling VW products, would be in jeopardy if I took any affirmative action such as filing this complaint. A promise that I would be informed by vwoa of the reason for the spontaneous deployment has not been fulfilled and I have not been contacted by any VW representative in almost four months. Recently, I was fired because of an incident related directly to the incident. I am filing this report because I have just learned that another person has experienced the spontaneous deployment of an airbag in a VW car and I?M confident that what I experienced was not a freak occurrence.

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 102003

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,200 miles
Driver-side airbag did not deploy during front-end collision.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #1

Jan 182003

Passat 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The driver's side head airbag (air curtain) of a 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 sedan deployed spontaneously while I was driving the car...a few minutes later, when the car was stopped, the steering wheel airbag deployed spontaneously...I suffered a permanent wrist injury and am suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome...the incident, which happened during a test drive, was reported to the management of the VW dealership for which I was working and to VW of America by the management...I sent a detailed incident report to both VW of America and VW ag (germany) ceos... a VW customer service representative admonished me to not make a fuss about the incident, saying it was a once-in-A-lifetime occurrence unlikely to happen again, and advised me that my letter to the vwoa CEO had been received but that he had not read it... the owner of the dealership advised me in a special meeting that he had been contacted by a vwoa management representative who was unhappy with the complaints I had made to the customer service representative about the lack of follow-up by VW and the means of alerting VW owners about the incident I was considering... I left the meeting believing my job and future in the car business, at least selling VW products, would be in jeopardy if I took any affirmative action such as filing this complaint. A promise that I would be informed by vwoa of the reason for the spontaneous deployment has not been fulfilled and I have not been contacted by any VW representative in almost four months... recently, I was fired because of an incident, I consider, related directly to the incident... I am filing this report because I have just learned that another person has, reportedly, experienced the spontaneous deployment of an airbag in a VW car and I am now confident that what I experienced was not a freak occurrence.

- Berkeley, CA, USA

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