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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 8
Injuries / Deaths:
10 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,506 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.

2004 Volkswagen Passat accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #20

May 042009

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Volkswagen Passat. While driving for two minutes with the seat heater activated, the driver's seat caught fire. The contact sustained moderate injuries. Prior to the failure, the vehicle was repaired according to the manufacturer's recall for the seats: Heating system. She called the dealer and is in the process of having the vehicle repaired. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 55,000. Updated 5/26/09 updated 05/28/09.

- Staatfburg, NY, USA

problem #19

Jul 182008


  • 71,850 miles
Started car up for morning commute and turned on the driver side seat warmer to 5. 5 minutes into the commute a smoke smell filled the cabin. When I arrived at my destination I found that the seat heater had burned a dime size hole through my cloth seat. I am the original owner of the vehicle and have not had an issue since taking possession on 2/14/04. When I mentioned this to the dealer they sounded a bit surprised and stated that they would have to investigate if this would be covered under warranty or not.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #18

Feb 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
1. the car had not been used for 4 hours prior to the event and the seat warmers had been used on high earlier in the day with no incident. The car was turned on and the seat was pulled back and then forward to adjust. 2.the car seat heaters were on level 5 and within one minute a very strong burning odor was present and smoke was coming from somewhere around me. I looked around and discovered it was the left side of the drivers seat. I turned off the seat heater and tried to wet the area to prevent the lesather from melting but it was too late and a hole about the size of a cigarette was burned into the seat from the inside.

- Griffin, GA, USA

problem #17

Jan 192008

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


While driving my 2004 VW Passat, my heated driver's seat burned a hole through the seat and burned my leg, though no personal injury occurred.

- Naperville, IL, USA

problem #16

Sep 142007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
A couple minutes after turning on my heated driver's seat, I felt something stinging my left leg. Shortly after, I began to smell a burning smell, and smoke entered the cabin. I could not pull over as I was on a busy street. I put my hand down there and felt a hole in the seat and the heat of the wire. I turned the heated seats off, and pulled over to inspect the seat. With the seat heater on I could see the light of a wire burning in there through a dime-sized burn hole.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #15

Mar 232007

Passat 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
The seat heater on the driver side of my car began to burn through the leather seat. It burned the leather on the seat, my trousers and left thigh.

- Albany, WI, USA

problem #14

Mar 022007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Driver's heated leather seat burned leather seat and my skin.

- Carbondale, CO, USA

problem #13

Mar 032007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 35,000 miles
Heated driver seat burned through seat cover and the occupants coat before smoke and heat alerted occupant to turn off the seat. Occupant turned off the heated seat and exited the vehicle to clear smoke. Initial reaction of dealer was to schedule service one week out due to their scheduled volume of service business next week, as if burning seats are a common occurrence.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #12

Feb 182007


  • miles
This morning, I started my car to head out to do some errands. Since it was cold, I waited for the car to warm up, and as I did, I turned my seat warmer on to level one (the highest is level five) and as I waited for my car to warm up, I noticed a burning smell and saw smoke. I got out of the car, turned off the motor, and found that the seat warmer had burnt a small hole in the seat, and had begun to burn my pants as well. There was no flame, but it was quite distressing. I am awaiting word from the dealer (since it is Sunday and they are closed) but I thought this should go on record.

- Haverford, PA, USA

problem #11

Jan 072007

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,100 miles
- the contact owns a 2004 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the heating seat malfunctioned. The heating coil burned a hole in the seat, and burned the contact's leg. The driver's front seat had a silver dollar size hole in it, with a wire sticking out of the seat. The vehicle's seat began smoking and she turned off the car immediately. The contact planned to take the vehicle to the dealer on 02-09-07. Also, the contact had a recurring problem with the transmission. The contact stated that usually when driving at 55 mph on the highway, and as she began braking the car jerked or threw the contact as if someone haad rear ended her. The contact stated that this happened at least once a week. She had taken the car to the dealer because they were not driving on the highway they were not able to duplicate the failure. In both instances neither weather nor speed were factors.

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #10

Jan 252007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,915 miles


My seat warmer on my 2004 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 turbo was turned to a setting of "2". after just two minutes I smelled something burning and felt a burning sensation on my leg. I looked down and the seat warmer had burnt a two inch whole through my cloth seats, and burnt my jeans as well. It also left a small burn on my leg, like someone had bumped me with a cigarette.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #9

Jan 242007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
Seat heater on driver's seat got extremely hot. Burned driver's skin but not through the leather. Smelled of smoke. Dealership stated multiple problems with seat heaters catching fire, yet no recall. Dealer will be happy to replace seat/heater at my expense since out of warranty.

- Cullman, AL, USA

problem #8

Dec 252006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,755 miles
Started car, heated seat setting was on 1 (lowest setting). One of the heaters must of shorted, I felt something on the side of my thigh right away but didn't see anything. Within one minute, noticed burning smell, smoking. Looked down, saw smoke and small flame. Immediately turned off seat heater, jumped out of car. Seat had burn hole size of silver dollar and was hot in that area only. Since it was christmas, I couldn't take it back to the dealership until the next day. When I got into car later, even though seat heater was off, I got a small shock when I started car. Car is still under warranty and dealership has been very helpful and was quite concerned, but can't replace parts right away (parts had to be back ordered from germany). They disconnected the heaters for me because I prefer driving my car around instead of the rental they offered. But will not be replacing passenger heating element for me.

- Elmhurst, IL, USA

problem #7

Nov 212006

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles
Driver seat heater shorted out and burned a hole in the leather of the car seat. Manufacturer would not replace.

- Escondido, CA, USA

problem #6

Nov 242006

Passat 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles
2004 Volkswagen Passat tdi - seat heater wire in passenger seat, side bolster ignited seat material. No open flame - polyester material smoldered, producing a dime-sized hole, through which the red-hot wire could be seen. Caused passenger discomfort, spread smell of smoke throughout cabin, alarmed passengers and drivers. No medical attention required.

- Unionville, 00, USA

problem #5

Nov 202006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Wife was driving 2004 VW Passat sedan with heated seats turned on. She felt a sharp burning in the side of her leg that slowly intensified. As she looked down at her leg she saw flames coming out from a dime sized hole. The seat was damaged and her leg was burned.

- York, PA, USA

problem #4

Mar 172006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 46,000 miles
After starting my 2004 VW Passat with the heated seat turned to 2 (on a 1-5 dial) I started to smell a burning smell almost immediately. After driving about 30 seconds I started to feel a sharp pain in the bottom of my upper leg. After driving about 45 more seconds smoke started to surround me coming up from the seat. At this point I pulled the vehicle over and got out. I could see a spot on my seat smoldering and smoking. I turned off my heated seat and the smoking stopped and the seat cooled off in about another 1-2 minutes. There remained a hole resembling a cigarette burn and the upholstery around it was melted. When I called the dealership, I was told not to use the heated seat on either side of the vehicle. I was also informed that the passenger seat would not be fixed and that there was no guarantee that this would not happen again.

- Poland, ME, USA

problem #3

Oct 272003


  • miles
Turned on seat heater to 1 while waiting for car to warm up. Noticed a burning smell and felt a hot burning sensation on my buttocks. Turned off seat heater and got out of the car. There was a 5/8' hole burnt through the seat with some smoke still coming out of it. The seat heater had been on less than 1 minute. Will contact dealer later today to resolve the issue. Cw.

- Joppa, MD, USA

problem #2

Sep 192005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,500 miles
The heated drivers seat in my 2004 VW Passat caught on fire and burned through my wife's jeans. This occurred after driving only 1/4 mile. She felt something on her leg and when she looked down there was smoke coming out of the seat. She stopped and got the fire out, but it had burned her(left a red markon her leg),her jeans and put a hole in the seat. The local VW dealer was contacted and made aware of the problem and they are replacing the defective parts on the driver seat. However, when questioned about the passenger seat being defective, it was explained that they have only had a problem with the driver seat. I would think that they used the same materials in both seats and that the reason there has not been a problem with the passenger seat is due to the possibility that it is not used as much. The potential danger if this is not corrected could be significant. I have been in contact with VW customer service and they are going to be contacting me back.

- Worthville, PR, USA

problem #1

May 242004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
An incident occured today, March 24th, 2004 where the seat heater in my 2004 VW Passat burned through my seat. I noticed it was hot and turned it off, and then smelt a buring smell. When I got to work I saw the small burn hole in my seat, which looked like a cigarette burn. After contacting the dealer they said that if it happens on the passenger seat after my warranty has expired that I would be liable for the cost of the replacement seat. While my clothes were not burned, my skin did have a sunburn like burn in that area.

- Rescue, CA, USA

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