really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,790 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.

2001 Volkswagen Beetle seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2001 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

Aug 192016


  • 70,000 miles


Air bag light came on and stayed on. Car shop said the seat belt switch assembly failed, and needed to be replaced. If there was a crash, the seat belt would not lock and the driver would be thrown into the air bag.

- Homer Glen, IL, USA

problem #25

Mar 272010


  • miles
The light on my dash came on for the drivers airbag and had it checked by the dealer March, 2010 for my 2001 VW Beetle 1.9 diesel. I was told the chip in the seat belt had gone bad needs to be replaced. Approx. $175 the service dept. Called VW and they could not tell me if my defective chip in the seatbelt will deploy upon impact. 50% chance it might. I have noticed all the $ I have put into this car VW generally is not on the recall lists for anything. Also, the headlight bulbs generally burn out every year and they need to be replaced. VW doesn't tell how to change the bulbs in the manual. Had to go to the dealer to show how to change a light bulb which I feel is a safety issue. I will not buy another VW because they do not back up their product. Also I know this my be old information but I didn't know where I could report this until I saw something in the paper. I don't know many other VW's out there are with this type of problem but I have talked to VW complaint dept. And all they told me is that they go off of dealers records. I really don't believe it because some of the problems I have had either does N't change for fixing or VW fixes some of the problems in the next models coming out of which I am stuck with the problem. No help from VW.

- Bay City, MI, USA

problem #24

Dec 072010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
The state of Virginia requires vehicle inspections, one item requires that dash warning lights for seat belt and airbags operate correctly. Our 2001 VW Beetle has an airbag warning light that would not go out. The VW dealer charged $100 to diagnose the fact that the driver's seat belt (micro chip) was the culprit and for another $500 the problem could be corrected. Feeling this dealer was trying to "rip me off" I searched the internet for information on this problem. There are literally thousands of comments from owners of VW cars with the same complaint. I contacted Volkswagen of America, customer care advocate, for information on this safety item and inquired why the excessive charge from their dealers. A simple reply was returned saying they did not see a need for a recall to correct a recurring problem. The problem is that if the sensor does not believe the seat belt is fastened, the airbag will not deploy in a crash. I wish to add my voice to the many complaints I found in the NHTSA web site regarding Volkswagen of America's disregard for the lives of their customers, so their dealers can make money from a repeated correction to this problem. At your request I will provide facts, documents, and evidence concerning my complaint.

- Stafford, VA, USA

problem #23

Jun 082010


  • 115,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Volkswagen new Beetle. While driving at an unknown speed the vehicle was involved in a head on collision in which the passenger side air bag deployed but the drivers side air bag didn't deploy. The driver was injured. The vehicle was destroyed. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to the contacts residence and has not been examined for the cause of failure. The failure and current mileages were 115,000.

- Fayetteville, GA, USA

problem #22

Nov 192009


  • 46,500 miles
I purchased a 2001 VW Beetle new and I have had to take it to the shop 4 times due to seat belt warning light. This seems to be an on-going problem even after VW made a recall and supposedly "fix" the seat belt problem. This very first time this happened the car had less 1500 miles on it.

- Cupertino, CA, USA

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problem #21

Mar 062009


  • 70,423 miles
The checkered flag vabeach va dealership actually told me my check engine light was on because of a malfunction of an airbag fuse. If this is true, the airbag light does not work on 2001 new Beetles. I suggest you follow up on this dealership for faulty information and consumer negligence. All they did was reset the code in the computer. T. forgey, customer

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #20

Aug 012008


  • 151,000 miles


Air bag warning light - the light went on immediately after I adjusted my seat. I do not know if I have functioning air bags or an idiot light malfunction. I own 2001 VW new Beetle. As I understand it, this issue happens a lot with VW jettas and new Beetles 2000- 2004. There is a forum named freds tdi where you will note several complaints and issues. Apparently you cannot just clear the faulty code. VW should make sure these devices are not malfunctioning. If the code was erroneously cleared the driver/passengers would be unaware if air bag is operational.

- Wayne, PA, USA

problem #19

Oct 012002

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
I was removing my seat belt and it slipped from my hand. After that the air bag default light came on and has stayed on. Two dealerships have told me there is a problem with the seat belt latch, but that the air bags will still deploy. The dealers are autobarn VW in evanston, il and jennigs VW in glenview, il. However city VW tells me the air bags won't deploy due to the failure light being on and that the buckle has to be replaced. I heard of other people having the same problems on the VW blogs on the web.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #18

Mar 012008

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 38,000 miles
The airbag light on the vehicle seems to be on all the time, there has been no reason for the light to be illuminated, the vehicle has not been in an accident. Apparently this airbag requires replacement at least once a year. It is possible that while the airbag light is on the vehicle will not deploy airbags in a crash. I have talked with several owners of VW beatles and all have had this problem. The last thing that should fail in a vehicle should be the airbag, and replacement is very expensive at $300 once a year. Replacement of a relay seems to repair the issue for a few months but is not a permanent repair as the symptoms return. Due to the fact that the vehicle odbc computer system will not display codes this cannot be repaired by non-manufacturer autoshops. VW owners could really use some help here please look at the following site forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?T=205721&highlight=airbag for a listing of some of these problems.

- Ridgecrest, CA, USA

problem #17

Oct 102005

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
2001 brand new Beetle started developing stains on the seat from day one. Blue jeans and dark sweaters stain the interiors to that color everytime someone sits down in the car. The throttle body has gone out three times, costing me over countless dollars in repair fees and is now out for the fourth time. Crown Volkswagen in tyler, tx has repaired it each time, the longest repair lasting about four months. They've paid for the repair once, but do not provide me with a replacement rental vehicle, refuse to pick up the phone during the day or return phone calls, and has cost me tons of time and money traveling from dallas to tyler to check on the car and pick it up. Once, I drove two hours from nacogdoches, tx to tyler, tx on the scheduled pick up day, having tried to call before leaving town to make sure it was ready, only to find that they hadn't gotten to the car when I arrived. This happened twice during the same repair which lasted a couple of weeks. They have been uncooperative, and the car is horrible. The arm rest broke one day as I lifted it, it just fell apart in my hands, the interior covering on the doors and dashboard flakes off, the sunroof broke numerous times while driving over a railroad track to get to work everyday. It finally jammed the visor so that it no longer works. The seat moving mechanisms no longer work. The airbag is in constant malfunction, the check engine and eps lights are always on. I constantly have to pull my car over onto the side of the road because it loses power and I have to restart it to get it to work again, although it never has a lot of power. This particular issue has nearly caused several wrecks. I am incredibly lucky. The cruise control no longer works, and it takes about 200 dollars a month to fill it up with gas because the engine problems effect the fuel efficiency.

- Cedar Hill, TX, USA

problem #16

Dec 142006

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 37,000 miles


Air bag light on for 2nd time since Aug 2006 when car was bought used. Newbeetle.org members all have had the same problem and I keep getting charged to read code and turn off the light because it's an "intermittent" code. I'm tired of driving around a vehicle knowing the air bags will not deploy if I get into an accident.

- Poughquag, NY, USA

problem #15

Dec 152006

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 49,175 miles
Air bag light came on. Took to dealer. The driver side airbag is defective and needs replaced. For $780 they replaced the airbag and wiring harness. This airbag was defective and should be replaced under warranty. This is a life safety issue and Volkswagen is responsible!

- Woodstock, IL, USA

problem #14

Dec 152006

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 49,175 miles
Air bag light came on. Took to dealer. The driver side airbag is defective and needs replaced. For $780 they replaced the airbag and wiring harness. This airbag was defective and should be replaced under warranty. This is a life safety issue and Volkswagen is responsible!

- Woodstock, IL, USA

problem #13

Jun 252006

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,375 miles
2001 Volkswagen Beetle airbag warning light suddenly illuminated. The dealer determined the air bag was defective, however no repairs were performed, because the warranty had expired.

- Perris, CA, USA

problem #12

Oct 142005

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving 5O mph the front part of the vehicle hit against a tree. The driver and the passenger air bags deployed however only the driver was in the vehicle. The end of the left side of the passenger air bag hit the driver's face causing permanent facial damage (acute recession glaucoma). The car was deemed totaled.

- Hammonton, NJ, USA

problem #11

Dec 022005

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Air bag dashboard light came on. Only a Volkswagen dealer has the equipment to diagnose the problem and tell me what needs to be done. The dealer will not look at my car unless I give them $100. Is this not price gouging? no automobile diagnosis with that expensive. It will not take but a few minutes to hook the computer up to the car and spit out a reason for the airbag light. So, I can pay them $100 to tell me what the problem is or I can ride around without airbags. This type of extortion should not be allowed.

- Walnut Cove, NC, USA

problem #10

May 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
I have 21,500 miles on my 2001 VW Beetle, has been in the shop aprox 6 times for the same problem, car hesitates and stalls out as check engine light is a constant on, dealership cannot find the problem, my wife and I were almost killed in vehicle due to stalling out in front of fast moving traffic, I let them know that this vehicle was an endanger to my and my families life while driving and would like this vehicle towed in, and since was an on going problem also needed a rental car and the dealership and Volkswagen of America both refused on both accounts, because of the bitter taste in my mouth for VW. I no longer want this car.

- Pasorobles, CA, USA

problem #9

Mar 292004


  • miles
Consumer felt that the airbags and seat belts should not be hooked up together. Both airbags and seat belts were inoperable.

- Colton, OR, USA

problem #8

Mar 182003


  • 35,000 miles
The air bag light in the vehicle was coming on and staying on. The dealer has replaced the air bags four times. After the last time, the light continued to come on. The dealer could not find the problem, but simply reset the air bag light. The manufacturer is aware of the problem.

- Chester, CT, USA

problem #7

Sep 242002

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 23,880 miles
New Beetle 2001: VIN#[xxx] E air bag system keeps failing. 7 repair attempts have been made by VW authorized repair representatives. VW has not identified the root cause of the problem. VW made me an $2,000.- trade-in allowance offer (against the purchase of a new VW). If traded, this car would very likely be re-sold to a consumer with the dealers full knowledge of the safety problem as VW refuses to take this car off the market place. What should I do ?? information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Milton, MA, USA

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