really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,875 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 engine problems

engine problem

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1998 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #8

Sep 292010


  • 136,000 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact stated that while driving 55 mph, the temperature light began beeping, then suddenly stopped beeping and a red light began flashing. The contact noticed a thump under the accelerator pedal so she stopped the vehicle on the left side of the highway. She attempted to drive the vehicle to the right side, but the vehicle would not start, so she coasted over to the right side of the highway. When the hood was opened, there were flames erupting and the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames. The vehicle was destroyed. The fire department was called but no report was filed. The manufacturer had not been notified. The VIN was unavailable. The current and failure mileages were approximately 136,000.

- Freeburg, IL, USA

problem #7

Sep 012008


  • 77,000 miles
My car began to over heat in July and I took it to the mechanic. I had to replace the water pump, thermostat and timing belt. @ months pass and again its overheating again now I'm told the head gasket is bad. I fix the head gasket and its overheating. They do not know what is causing it to overheat. $1500 later I'm still in the same boat.

- Elizabeth, NJ, 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

Aug 182004


  • miles


Upon starting the vehicle the side air bag deployed. There was no collision. Consumer was injured. One month prior to the air bag deployment, the air bag light illuminated on the dash board. Also, the engine light illuminated prior to the side air bag deployment. Recall 98V100000 was issued.

- Commack, NY, USA

problem #4

May 152004

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles
While driving at any speed vehicle vibrated and jerked uncontrollably. Consumer was able to maintain control of the vehicle, and drove it to the dealer for inspection, but mechanic was not able to duplicate the problem. Two weeks later, vehicle was taken back to the dealer for the same problem, and mechanic determined that one motor mount bolt was missing and one needed to be tightened.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #3

Jun 042004


  • miles
While driving check engine light appeared on dashboard and remained on. Then, vehicle stalled. Consumer tried to restart vehicle, but was unable to do so. Consumer had the vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic could not duplicate the problem. Consumer informed the mechanic that problem occurred more than once, and had not been resolved.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #2

Jul 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
I bought a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle from torrance Nissan on 5 January, 2003: Since the date of purchase, this car had been overheating off and on. I returned it to the dealership but was informed that it was nothing to worry about." They went as far as taking it to a VW service rep on 5 and 6 January, 2003 for confirmation. I found out later that VW has no record of ever servicing or even seeing the VW until 1 April, 2003! during the months of February and March, 2003 I still experienced the vehicle overheating and each time I called amir, I would follow up with a visit to torrance Nissan. Their replies were always the same, they could not find a problem for the overheating" there were many times I told the dealership that I no longer wanted this car and even submitted it in writing on 15 April, 2003. On 1 April, 2003 I took the Beetle to Volkswagen myself and had it fixed, but the water pump broke again and was replaced on 4-9-03. Three days later, the car was getting hot. I told both Volkswagen and torrance Nissan that I no longer want this car! I have proof of all the repairs performed and still it overheats! on 12 April, 2003 I took the car once more to Volkswagen to thoroughly check it out and they called their technical support. A few days later they found a cracked head on the engine block. To top it off, I had a car accident on 28 April, 2003 on my way to work and had to be towed to the long beach Honda body shop. Later that night the car caught fire and was burned down with 3 other cars in the body shop. Before the car caught fire, I was in process of a valid claim under the lemon law & magnuson-moss warranty act with the adam krohn of the consume law center. Issues: Rental car $1,607.78 (my insurance only covered $600, my insurance covered only actual value of $10,788.31; leaving me with a balance of $1,043 out-of-pocket. Which my insurance informs me make a claim against the body shop for difference on balance and $ $1007.78 of the car rental.

- Sanperdo, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 122003

(reported on)


  • miles
Consumer replaced brake lights/headlights/rear brake pads and rotors/ engine shield and cooling system.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

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