hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
64,908 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #6

Sep 102010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 104,000 miles


Beginning around September 2010, my 2003 VW new Beetle began experiencing hard shifting and engine revving during normal driving. When accelerating from first to second gear, and from second to third gear, the car idles at very high rpms while failing to actually shift for a few seconds, then shifts very hard into gear forcing the car to slow down, jerk and buck. VW did issue a warranty extension some time ago but the extension was only to 100,000 miles and at the time, my car had approximately 104,000 miles on it and VW wouldn't do the work - which involves replacing a faulty transmission valve body. Since that time, the rpms have gotten stuck idling almost to red zone levels while I'm driving, though the car is not actually accelerating. It's as if the car is in neutral with the foot on the gas. This has happened at least 10 times and is remedied if I pull over and turn the car off, then restart it. In addition, when downshifting to exit the highway or upshifting to enter the highway, or simply when pulling away from a stop light or stop sign, the car has a tendency to skip a gear or shift so hard it jerks and bucks and revs very high until the gear engages (like it does when a kid is learning how to drive a stick shift, only it's an automatic). This happens every time I drive the car and has continually worsened. I haven't had an actual accident but believe it is imminent if the condition keeps getting worse.

- Lebanon, CT, USA

problem #5

Mar 082010


  • 45,000 miles
Transmission on the VW new Beetles are faulty. Cars should last more than 45,000 miles before the transmission goes. This has been a documented problem on website forums like newbettle.org and I hope that you can do something about it.

- Williamsport, PA, USA

problem #4

Dec 092008


  • 86,273 miles
Car bough used from vs dealership on 7/31/2006. Been in for check engine light 4times, airbag light 3 times, A/C broke once, windows would not roll up once, needed new rotors once, rattling under hood once, battery died two days after I bought it and I had to tow it back to VW. Car jerks when going out of first gear-I told VW this repeatedly and they only tried to fix it after the warranty was up. They told me it would be $700 to fix. On 12/9/2008 my car would not go out of first gear while I was driving it. It had to be towed to my house and has not been driven since. I have had nothing but problems out of this car. I can not put anymore money into it. When the warranty went up, all of the sudden everything started going wrong. I requested prior information from the VW dealership about the other owner before me. I feel that this car was doctored so that I would buy it and then it started falling apart.

- Matthews, NC, USA

problem #3

Oct 112008

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 99,600 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. While driving approximately 70 mph on normal road conditions, the oil pressure and check engine warning indicators illuminated intermittently on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who stated that the failure was related to oil sludge and the sending unit. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 99,600 and current mileage was 100,000. 4/01/09 there was sludge in the oil pan and the check engine light stayed on constantly. Updated 04/06/09.

- Bois D'arc , MO, USA

problem #2

Sep 222008


  • 54,575 miles
Since September 22, 2008, the oil light has been coming on, first intermittently and then constantly, followed by buzzing sound. The VW service repair replaced a clogged oil pump which they stated would fix the problem. October 6, the oil light came on-replaced oil pressure sensor and oil filter.. on October 17, 2008 the oil light came on again - VW service kept the car to test drive until October 20 at which time they replaced the oil pump. October 22, 2008 the oil light came back on- VW service requested to keep the car because they needed to call VW headquarters to try to determine the cause of the oil light constantly coming on. On November 3, VW service stated they did not know what the problem was, however, suggested replacing the engine, at the owners expense. In reviewing information on various discussion boards, the 1.8T engine that is in the VW new Beetle is the same engine that caused similar issues with the oil light in the passat and the Audi. In conversation with VW customer care (1-800-822-8987), they indicated there are no complaints re new Beetle and the 1.8T engine and stated the oil pan size is different. It is unreasonable to expect that an engine with 55,000 miles and 5 years old, and that has been maintained according to the service manual would need replacing---at the owners expense. The scary part is the service department cannot guarantee that replacing the engine would fix the oil light issue.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 212003


  • miles
Texas lemon law/ Texas deceptive trade practices act/ breach of warranty.

- Tyler, TX, USA

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