hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,267 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 Beetle electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #29

Nov 172016


  • miles


Window needs new regulator. It is stuck halfway down. It is the drivers side rear window.

- Ft Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #28

Dec 242015


  • 100,000 miles
Constant electrical problems. Wires melting, battery needs to be replaced, warning lights go on then the car dies while driving, alarm system goes off when raining.

- Hudson, OH, USA

problem #27

Sep 092015


  • 149,000 miles
Alternator harness had to much resistance in it causing the fuse box to melt and frying the alternator. Dealer said it was a result of the wire being over crimpt during manufacturing.

- Inverness, FL, USA

problem #26

Oct 152014


  • 84,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. While driving at 25 mph, the vehicle stalled and the contact noticed smoke coming from the front of the vehicle. The contact noticed that the fuse box was melted. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the fuse box needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, a few months later, here was smoke the contact noticed smoke and fire coming from the vehicle while it was parked. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 84,000.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #25

Apr 082015

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Car stalled out in the middle of traffic and the epc code appeared.

- Milton, MA, USA

problem #24

Jan 142015


  • 65,551 miles
Vehicle engine stopped while driving. Battery dead, no power in vehicle at all. Found melted battery fuse box under hood. Root cause determined to be corrosion on alternator power supply cable that created heat enough to melt plastic (~450F) and burn the protective cover off the alternator supply wire back 2 inches. Poor contact due to corrosion caused battery to drain, which eventually could no longer sustain engine ignition. No warning lights prior to engine stopping. No battery power also means no power steering, no power brakes, no airbags during collision. Online forums indicate this is happening to a lot of people. It would appear to be as deadly as the GM ignition switch issue, but it is not being taken seriously by VW.

- Plainfield, IN, USA

problem #23

Oct 302014


  • miles


First I must ask myself why am I wasting my time again? you can write to NHTSA all you want and explain your complaint / defect but that's as far as it goes, they never respond and nothing gets repaired for free unless numerous accidents happen and people get hurt or worse yet die!

- Viroqua, WI, USA

problem #22

Aug 312014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 61,420 miles
First I had 4 warning lights come on. Battery, oil pressure, air bags, and brakes. Then the air conditioner compressor turned off. Then the car died in the middle of an intersection. I was almost hit by 3 cars. Finally got to the side of the road and opened hood. The fuse box on top of the battery melted along with the alternator wire to fuse box. Cost over $1000 to fix. VW dealer stated this is a known problem with this fuse box but no recall and to be prepared for it to happen again. I did some searching on the internet....wow....this is really an issue with this fuse box. There was a civil suit filed by Florida residents.

- Alamogordo, NM, USA

problem #21

May 222014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
I have a 2003 VW Beetle turbo 1.8.and the fuse block has burnt up 3 times now and there hasn't been a recall.I just had VW to do over $2000 and have the receipts to prove it.they didn't fix the problem to begin with but says they did.the car has left my daughter stranded 3 different times.I hear that the alternator harness is faulty.you can go to gotaclassaction.com/Volkswagen-named-in-class-action-over-fuse-boxalternator-cable-assembly/ and see that they are some major problems with this.

- Rock Hills, SC, USA

problem #20

Feb 282014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
All panel lights come on (ABS, brake, battery, seatbelt, check engine), and the indicator continuously sounds like the seatbelt is not locked. The right brakelight goes out when the lights are on. Alternator and battery were both checked and they were both really strong. Thinking this may be an electrical problem.

- Monticello, FL, USA

problem #19

Mar 042013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 129,000 miles


My vehicle's radio shut off, warning lights came on and vehicle powered down while driving. Could not even steer vehicle completely to shoulder of road. Police officer driving by stopped and chastised me for not moving my car completely out of traffic's way. Created a very hazardous traffic situation. Police officer had to direct traffic around my vehicle for the hour it took to get vehicle home. The battery was checked and was fine. No charge on alternator. A quick google search led to checking fuse box near battery. One fuse was completely melted/burnt as well as the alternator cable connection on vehicle. The google search made it seem as though this is a very common occurrence, yet no recall has been issued. From my assessment, the damage included the fuse-box assembly, one of the fuses, and alternator cable ring-terminal; however, multiple web forums suggest that fan assemblies and other components may need to be replaced as well, leading to costly repairs. It is my opinion that the issue can be attributed to manufacturer's faulty design. My internet search also revealed that a class action lawsuit was filled in Florida, 2011, but I cannot find any further information on the matter.

- Big Stone Gap, VA, USA

problem #18

Jul 122012

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 142,234 miles
This particular electrical problem with VW new Beetles has been reported in online VW forums hundreds of times. There is a small plastic fuse box that is attached at the top of the vehicle battery in the engine compartment. It contains a series of flat metal fuses of various amperage, and is electrically fed by a cable directly from the alternator. Once at the fuse box, the electricity is branched to other circuits by connection to a bus. But the main feed from the fuse box is to the battery by an auxiliary cable, branching out from the fuse box, connected by the alternator cable/flat fuse at one end (in the fuse box), and directly to the battery positive at the other end. The problem is that the entire fuse box assembly frequently melts into a glob of plastic, and represents a significant fire hazard. I have owned two new Beetles (2003 & 2004), and have experienced this problem four time between the two. My own investigation into the cause(s) has shown me that if the vehicle battery is discharged, and the alternator attempts to recharge the battery at a high rate, that once the electrical charge enters the fuse box via the alternator cable, the auxiliary cable is incapable of allowing the electricity to pass on through to the battery. The excess electrical build up is dissipated as heat, and the fuse box melts. It is analogous to bringing in water through a fire hose (the alternator cable), and then trying to funnel all of the water into a straw (the auxiliary cable). It won't fit. It appears that the auxiliary cable is of insufficient size and metal type to handle the electrical charge. In addition to the generic fire hazard, given the fuse box location, any leaking fumes (hydrogen) from the battery which come into contact with a fuse box spark/flame could cause the battery to explode. Please advise.

- Arrington, VA, USA

problem #17

Oct 112011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 53,657 miles
My fuse panel has burnt out four times in a year and a half at a cost of $100 each time plus all the other parts it ruined when it burned. I had to get a new A/C compressor a new battery. I know from looking online trying to find out info about this problem that its happening to alot of people and this should have been a recall a long time ago.

- Norwood, MA, USA

problem #16

Mar 192003


  • 1 miles
From day one this car had transmission problems which were denied by the dealer on 5 visits, after I sold the car I received a recall from VW, now that I am looking at blogs they have apparently recalled this recall to suit them. Other complaints with this vehicle are window troubles, convertible roof troubles, electronic troubles, seatbelt troubles, airbag troubles. I can't believe anyone will allow this car to still be sold or on the road. It is a safety hazard on wheels.

- Alta Loma, CA, USA

problem #15

Oct 262007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Three years ago when the car had only 55,000 miles on it, the air bag light came on. There was never any deployment of the air bags and I take good care of my car. VW said it was a defective air bag, but refused to stand behind it. They want $750 to fix it. In the past four years I have had to replace each window motor. They cost $400 to replace. The driver side motor needs to be replaced for the second time. That means the first replacement lasted less than four years. The car has only 77,000 miles on it. This is outrageous.

- Titusville, FL, USA

problem #14

Dec 232010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Beetle convertible window regulators.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #13

Nov 082010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 86,361 miles
Generator pulley failure.

- Crown Point, IN, USA

problem #12

Jul 292010


  • 39,155 miles
Electrical fire in fusebox of 2003 Volkswagen Beetle disabled vehicle and melted fuse housing and cover.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #11

Apr 022010


  • 40,000 miles
The alternator harness has burnt up twice in less than 12,000 miles. The first time it melted everything and they replaced it and now it has done it again. It has stranded me on the side of the road and almost caused a fire under the hood. The dealership told me that they have had trouble with this on 2001 to 2004 models but then VW customer service says no. I am concerned that it will do it again and that a fire will be next.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #10

Feb 242010


  • miles
The epc light comes on all the time, even after being fixed. The window regulators break. The battery has had to be replaced twice. The cv boot broke.

- Arcadia, CA, USA

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