really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,994 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.

1998 Volkswagen Beetle electrical problems

electrical problem

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1998 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #13

Oct 312014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


Daughter was driving to school, car stalled, restarted car then saw smoke and fire under passenger side dash. Car burnt completely, totaled. Have before and after pictures...updated 11/12/14

- Brandenburg, KY, USA

problem #12

Aug 022013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
Owner was driving vehicle and attempted to turn on A/C. when A/C would not work properly, she pulled off roadway and stopped. Smoke and burning odor came out of vents, with fire eventually showing from climate control panel. Interior of vehicle was fully involved in fire when fd arrived. Engine compartment not involved. Radio operating properly prior to incident. No prior issues with vehicle.

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #11

Aug 262012

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • 76,000 miles
Windows started going up and down randomly and doors locking/unlocking randomly. As I was reaching through my window to gram my keys from the ignition my arm got pinched, and lodged in the window that was going up, (I was trying to get my keys before getting locked out of the car (again) due to the random locking and unlocking). Auto reversal of the windows when an appendage gets lodged in the window did not occur. This pinched and lodged my left arm in the window to a point of bruising an area of 4 inches by 2 inches. After exhaustively researching this issue (which is a common issue with the door lock modules on the 98-02 VW Beetles with the old style "loud" power locks) I concluded that the door lock module and the door closed microswitch were with culprits of this incident. I am very grateful that this only occurred to a 32 year old man and not one of my 4 small children (7mo-7 years). Vwoa should do their research and see that hundreds if not thousands of VW owners have had to replace dlms on multiple doors at a cost of at least $200+ each door (more at the dealership). This should be a recall for the safety factor alone, let alone the inconvenience factor of having to replace a dlm because of a $3 microswitch at the door closed sensor, or 1 of 6 bad solder joints on the circuit board inside the door lock module. Information on the exact problem can be found on multiple VW repair sites (tdiclub.com; vwvortex.com; newbeetle.org; etc, etc, etc) I do understand that my car is 14 years old, however I have had to spend over $1000 fixing VW factory mistakes on this car already. I love VW, being a former owner of several air cooled vws in the past, however this will severely affect my decision to ever buy another water cooled VW.

- Brownsburg, IN, USA

problem #10

Sep 012010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles


The vehicle air conditioning stopped working in 9/2010. After paying for repair of the ac system it still did not work and the mechanic stated that the problem was in the wiring and would have to be repaired by the dealer. Recently, 4/2012, the gas pedal has started to fluctuate on its own while driving the vehicle. When this happens the car must be pulled over and turned off for to reset the electrical system and then started again to control the problem. However the problem continues to occur at frequent intervals. I contacted VW after reading about the recalls concerning electrical wiring caused by a wire connection too close to the battery tray (recall id # 11675 - electrical system:wiring:front underhood) they told me the VIN number of the vehicle was not eligible for the recall even though the recall was in the same 1998 model year. I told them we are having the exact same problems as stated in the recall. The car is now unsafe to drive and we are left to diy on this one. Is there any resoltion that can be achieved here? it seems it should absolutely be recalled/repaired by VW.

- Felton, CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 292011


  • 108,700 miles
I purchased a 98' VW new Beetle 3 days ago from a dealer and everything seemed fine w/ it until today. The car started over heating and come to find out the engine fuse had melted over the battery terminal that runs the coolant fan. After the fuse was replaced the temp. Light went out the engine light came on. I had the codes read and it sad it was a P0332 knock sensor 2 circuit low. I've read alot of sights and alot of people have said they have had this problem too, but I haven't had a chance to fix yet. I also have had the same problem I have read in other posts about not being able to get your car started. I turn the key everything comes on it cranks it sounds like it just about to start but it just won't turn over. I would like to know more about that too. It's a good idea about sights like this, but there's alot of people out there that have alot of complaints that have no idea about these sights. There should be a way to advertise somewhere to get to more people on how they could make complaints on this sight or sights like these and maybe eventually something could be done and we could get some help to get these cars fixed instead of fixing all the same exact problems ourselves.

- New Bedford, MA, USA

problem #8

Aug 202009


  • 98,220 miles
Volkswagen overheat with fuse block electrical fire. Fire was contained to the fuse block of 1998 Volkswagen new Beetle. The fuse block on top of the battery caught fire.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #7

Oct 202007


  • miles


I have a 98 Volkswagen new Beetle. I have had the exact problems listed in one of the recalls that has been done on some new Beetles, but when I talked with Volkswagen, they said that based on my VIN #, my car is not eligible for that recall. What is my recourse so that this issue can be resolved? here is the information on the recall that I think they need to do on my car: Electrical system:wiring:front underhood vehicle description: Passenger vehicles. The electrical wiring located in the engine compartment was routed too close to the edge of the vehicle's battery tray. The wiring can become damaged over time by chafing and the air-conditioner compressor and/or the fuel pump can malfunction. Consequence a malfunction of the fuel pump can cause the vehicle to stall, and in some instances, could also result in a wiring fire in the engine compartment. I have had to get a new fuel pump for my car this year and my mechanic is telling me that I now need to get a new ac compressor. Since these are the things that are affected by a bad electrical wiring, and my car has had issues with these, I believe that my car should be eligible for this recall. Please help!

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #6

Aug 012007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Since I purchased my Beetle in 2001, it has been an ongoing money drain. In 6 yrs. I have replaced the manual transmission twice, had the brakes worked on a number of times, been unable to open the gas "door" on the car w/ the gas cap latch, had to replace the hood opening latch, had repeated electrical failures, problems w/ front & rear light wiring, had door locks/alarm fail & subsequently had my laptop stolen from the car, the radio has not worked for 1+ year, & it's cover panel is loose & falling back into the dash, the rear-view mirror switches have failed, the power window switches have had to be replaced, the drivers side door fell off (!) of its top hinge when the hinge broke while opening the door normally at a gas station, the air compressor has failed many times, the A/C is currently not working, the drivers side door lock fell out of the handle(!!!!), the catalytic converter has been replaced twice, & the list goes on. Currently I have not been driving the car for several wks B/C though only a week or two out of the shop, again it is having transmission problems. I am at my wits end with this car & having recently graduated from college, am not in the greatest position to have to buy a new car. Moreover, I am so displeased w/ the car that I would literally feel guilty about trading it in to be sold to some other unsuspecting person. VW should be so ashamed of themselves, & should be reimbursing owners of the 1998 Beetle in full for all of the strife & trouble that they have caused. In fact, after writing this & realizing how many problems this car has had, I may try to take legal action - this is totally unacceptable! finally, our local VW dealer is terrible, keeping my car for wks. Longer than expected, one time leaving a candy bar stuck to my passenger side seat!!!, and acting like they could care less about the poor quality of their products & labor.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #5

Jul 032007

Beetle 2-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I own a Volkswagen Beetle, 98. I was driving my car to work around 9:00 am. The air conditioner would not turn past 2. I could not get it to turn off either. Smoke then began to come out from around the vents of the ac. I pulled off of the road, called my work, and my fiance. The smoke then got worse, then were flames. I then called 911. Police and fire trucks arrived. My car was totaled. The inside was completely destroyed, and most of the outside.

- Sterling, VA, USA

problem #4

Mar 122000

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles
I"ve had multiple failures with my 1998 Beetle. The car was overheating--found out that the engine fuses were melted over the battery terminal. My reverse lights stopped working--no one has been able to correct that yet, my daytime running lights don't usually work, but sometimes will come on all by themselves. Got locked in my car twice. The alarm sometimes goes off for no reason. The car periodically doesn't start. Had it towed to VW twice for this. They could find no problems. Also, something in the car's electrical components is drowning the battery--have to buy a new battery every six months. I have replaced both windows once. I had the brake light switch replaced three times and was rear -ended once before VW finally did a recall on that part. I'm sure I have left something out--there is so much it's hard to remember. Bottom line--this car is a hazard on the road for the person driving and other motorists.

- Beverly Hills, FL, USA

problem #3

Feb 171998

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 10,000 miles


My 1998 bug has burned approx. 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles, dealership reported this as normal? don't think so. I have also replaced the headlights every six months until the switch on the emergency brake for the daytime runnings lamps broke. I open the car door (still in warranty) and the handle fell off in my hands. Fog light had moisture in it, now both have fallen out. Both door hinges broke. You cannot open doors and shut them, I had to climb in and out of the windows to get into the car. The trunk latch had to be repaired, it wouldn't open. The gas latch is broken and doesn't hinge, the glove box hinges don't work, the compartment above the clock doesn't hinge properly. The radio turns itself off, the temp read out in the car fades in and out, something on the transmission broke and I only had 2nd and 3rd gear, I have replaced the oxygen sensors twice, my air bag light is on, I have been told I need a new seat to correct this, even though it is due the the electrical problems every bug seems to have. Hub cap has fallen off several times. I have lost antifreeze, but no one seems to be able to find out where II's going. I'm sure there is more, but this car constantly has so many things wrong with it, I can't keep up anymore. Unfortunately the dealerships are the only people who can't seem to see all the cronic problems with this vehicle.

- Sparta, NJ, USA

problem #2

Jul 122003

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Beetle has had a number of major repair problems. Air conditioning system failed at 3years old resulting in a complete rebuild. Recently, window parts failed on both sides resulting in windows falling down into the doors. Power window on driver side, hatch release and gas tank door release switches have all failed or broke resulting in replacement. ECM module has been replaced. Glove box door broke and has been replaced. Currently dealing with another series of check engine lights and awaiting diagnosis.

- Summervilee, SC, USA

problem #1

Apr 121999


  • miles
Passenger's side window doesn't work. Also, remote contro is works intermittently, and when the radio is on the tape deck will play.

- Lovato, CA, USA

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