hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,429 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 #7

Feb 152011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


Over the last couple of years my 2003 VW Beetle has been in and out of the garage. It seems to have trouble changing gears (it's an automatic) and has gotten stuck in 3rd gear. It will jerk and lunge when slowing down. Each time the mechanic has "reset the codes" and the test drive showed no signs of anymore trouble. It has gotten much worse and now after driving for about 25 or 30 minutes it begins the jerking and lunging. After researching, I see that this is a common problem with this car. I love my car, but no longer feel safe driving it and I certainly cannot rely on it. I now feel that I am stuck with a car that I cannot drive nor can I sell.

- Appomattox, VA, USA

problem #6

Nov 122012

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The vehicle starts up fine and accelerates normal at first. Just before the vehicle switches to second gear it gets stuck. The only way to get it to properly shift to second gear is to give it more gas, which makes the rpms go up to 7,000. At this point the vehicle changes to second gear and lunges forward. I have almost rear ended multiple people do this problem. Once the vehicle gets into second gear it accelerates normally again, just until it changes to third gear and does the same problem that I described above. This problem is not only dangerous, but also financial hurtful. I have read hundreds of reviews on this problem and they all describe the same thing, along with their vehicles being very low in mileage.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #5

Jan 052013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
I bought my 2003 VW Beetle a few months ago from a private seller. In the past week, the shifting has gotten really difficult and it very often will not accelerate easily. My husband drove the car and reported having no problems, so he didn't believe me. Yesterday, I was driving on the highway and couldn't get the car to accelerate past 50 mph. It was especially scary when I tried to cross the highway and the car didn't want to accelerate at all. That could have been a horrible accident. After crossing the highway, I was unable to accelerate past 20 mph. I parked the car at a relatives home and had her drive me home as I was afraid to drive the car again. I started doing research and was blown away by the number of people facing the same problems. This is a dangerous situation that needs to be resolved.

- Lewes, DE, USA

problem #4

Jul 202011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles


My 2003 Beetle has been violently jerking after about 10-15 minutes of driving (when it warms up). If I'm at a stop sign or red light and accelerate - it violently jerks into gear !! if I baby it and barely move (where traffic is practically running into me from behind), it is not soooo bad, but still bad and it is very dangerous. VW also extended the warranty until 2010 or 100,000 which ever came first, and unfortunately 2010 came first and they refuse to extend the warranty to be used under the 100,000 miles rule. This is extremely expensive to fix, I've read thousands of the same exact complaints in this car -- thousands, the very same thing and VW will not take responsibility to change it to 100,000 miles and not just 2010 (which obviously has past 2 years ago). This is dangerous and expensive. It is a defect and VW should pay for this. Do people have to get killed before they offer the extension up to 100,000 miles"?" thank you

- Lambertville, NJ, USA

problem #3

Aug 202010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 80,005 miles
My car (2003 Volkswagen convertible Beetle automatic) jerks so hard dangerously. I found so many people who have the same problems online. Fortunately I haven't hurt anyone yet. Please help me before I do!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #2

Feb 042010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
I own a 2003 VW new Beetle convertible, 4 cyl, 6 sp auto. It has 80,000 miles on it. Within the past year, it's started jerking when shifting gears. I've been told by I need a new transmission. After doing some research, I find I'm not alone. There are literally hundreds of others in the same position. According to VW, the transmission is $6,800. Wow - I know! you have to use the dealer because the parts aren't available to the after market. In any event, the car hesitates when you attempt to pull out, jerks when you stop. I've narrowly avoided several rear end collisions as well as said several prayers when it didn't accelerate as quickly as it should have. I'm not a mechanic, but I'm not stupid either. The transmission is fine until the engine is warm. I can shift gears with no problem using the tiptronic part of the system - but others have said this only works for a short period. There are no metal sounds when the engine is shifting. There is nothing wrong with the transmission, it is an electrical issue. VW refuses to put the time and effort into determining what the real problem is. They just replace the transmissions and pocket $6,800. By the way, the blue book value of the car is $6,800. Ironic, I know. I've read post after post from people who had the entire transmission replaced by VW only to find the problems persist. I understand they don't want to find the issue, but I really love my car and want it fixed. Correctly. Please, please, please strongly encourage VW to do the right thing, find the problem and fix it. Any help you can offer is appreciated.

- Mount Olive, AL, USA

problem #1

Oct 102007


  • 70,000 miles
When cruise control is engaged, suddenly, without warning, the vehicle will accelerate at ever increasing speeds until disengaged. This happens intermittently, without warning and seemingly without a common denominator (such as 30 min after engaged or at a particular speed). It does happen with more regularity exceeding speeds of 70 mph on the highway, but it has also happened at 45-50 mph as well. The dealer was unable to duplicate the problem so subsequently did not repair the problem.

- Woodland Park, CO, USA

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