really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,707 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #39

Apr 172015


  • 100,000 miles


Air bag warning light diagnosed at service by dealer (campbell/nelson VW) indicated that a sensor or switch located in the driver-side seatbelt latch was defective and even when the seatbelt was latched, the airbag would not deploy. This turned out to be a $400 repair and I believe it should be considered for a recall.

- Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #38

Dec 052014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact stated that the warning lamp illuminated for an air bag malfunction, flashed, and remained lit intermittently. The contact was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 08V178000 (air bags). The vehicle was not inspected or diagnosed. The vehicle was to be taken to an authorized dealer for further inspection. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was not available.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #37

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 #36

Jan 172015


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. After starting the vehicle, the air bag warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that unknown air bag wires needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 80,000.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #35

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

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problem #34

May 012014


  • 49,200 miles
The front passenger seat belt would not unlatch. Passenger had to climb out from underneath. Call to the VW dealership yielded comment from service department "sometimes the seat belt latch breaks; you need to bring it in and have it replaced (at my cost)". on May 14, 2014 I had the service repair done. Mileage was 49,486. Cost was $292.16. Service was done by jim ellis Volkswagen marietta, 1860 cobb parkway, marietta, ga 30060. I think this is a safety defect. If we had been in an accident, my passenger would not have been able to get out of the car; this would have been life-threatening, they could have died. I think Volkswagen should make a recall of 2003 Beetle convertibles and replace the latch and sensor (to airbag) at no charge to owner.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #33

Mar 272013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


The air bag light came on and when we took it to the Volkswagen dealership we were told that the air bag had failed and that it may or may not deploy during an accident, and that it could deploy without cause while driving. Called Volkswagen customer care number and was told that the recall had been addressed in 2008 with the vechicle and that it was not necessarly repaired "it was just addressed". I could not get any further response. I have never had or read about a car having to have airbags replaced as a scheduled service or maintance. Airbag failure showes that it was not done right to begain with. The car was purchaced with 34,000 miles and now has 60,111 miles. I am concerned about the airbag possiblity deploying while driving more than not deploying during a crash. Any help in understanding this matter is much appriciated.

- Morganton, NC, USA

problem #32

Sep 212007


  • 36,000 miles
I have had to replace all four power window regulators. I am now having to replace one of the replacements. This vehicle only has 83000 miles on it. The parts to repair this window are extremely expensive - over $500. I've already invested well over $1500 replacing the regulators already. Volkswagen is making defective parts and will not stand behind their product. I filed a complaint earlier on this vehicle for a defective airbag. This car has not been abused. I've taken good care of it. The airbag was never deployed or damaged in any way. If the airbag is defective it is because VW puts defective airbags in their vehicles.

- Titusville, FL, USA

problem #31

Apr 072012


  • 28,600 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. While driving approximately 55 mph, the contact heard a loud clicking sound in the rear of the vehicle. The contact also noticed the air bag warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The rear driver's side roll over bar suddenly deployed inadvertently. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer for a diagnostic test. The technician was unable to diagnose the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 28,600.

- Monument, CO, USA

problem #30

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 #29

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 #28

Jan 042011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Air bag light as of 1/1/11, these were recalled for 2004-2006 Beetles and 2003-2005 Beetle convertibles. No recalls yet for 2003 Beetles, but it seems to be a growing problems that are yet to be fixed by VW!!! seems like they are just delaying the recall until they receive enough complaints/injuries. 2 recalls of a frontal sensor/control module in 4/2008 & a passenger occupant detection system (pod) dealer reprogram repair in 12/2004 but again nothing for 2003 models even though it started in late 2003.

- Cotati, CA, USA

problem #27

Sep 152011


  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact stated the air bag light illuminated. The dealer inspected the vehicle and advised that the entire air bag system failed and needed to be replaced. The contact believed that the failure was caused by a manufacturing defect. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 96,000.

- Paris, CA, USA

problem #26

Sep 062011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 60 miles
Recall on airbag crash sensor back in 2008, which we had replace. However this problem constantly happen were the air bag crease sensor lights comes on and stays on. When you call the dealership they wants to charge the consumer. There is always a jerking in the power transmission while driving. This is dangerous you would think the car is going to stop going up hill. I made a complaint back in 2009 complaint #102868 never received a response.

- Perris, CA, USA

problem #25

May 272011


  • 99,610 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact stated that the driver side air bag deployed without any warning while driving. The wires under the seat began emitting smoke and the plastic coating was melted. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 99,610.

- Jacksonville , AL, USA

problem #24

May 132011


  • miles
My car was rear-ended by another car at a high rate of speed. None of my air bags deployed and my fiance, who was driving, sustained a sprained neck and a concussion as a result of hitting the steering wheel.

- Athens, GA, USA

problem #23

Sep 182009

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 69,896 miles
This is my second complaint to safercar.gov and I haven't received any contact from anyone on this matter. All I want is for my air bag system to be fixed for free by VW in stockton ca. My airbag light is on for the fourth time in four years that I have had the 03 VW Beetle convertible and every time, VW has found that the sensor is at fault. Now this time, VW wants to charge me $678 to fix it. There is no recall on this. It is 00003 control module defective. I am extremely angry that they will not fix this knowing that this is the fourth time that the air bag light came on. VW knows that my airbag light comes on and they supposedly fix the sensors free of charge each time, but this time, they will not. They need to make a recall on this thing. Im sick and tired of having to have my car serviced over a light. Please help me.

- Ca, CA, USA

problem #22

Mar 302011


  • 136,300 miles
When the engine was started, the air bag warning light illuminated on the instrument panel and stays illuminated until the engine is turned off. The seat belt light goes off after the car is started even when no seatbelts are put on. The VIN was not included in recall 08V178000, although the failure symptoms seem similar.

- Barkhamsted, TN, USA

problem #21

Feb 052011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 46,900 miles
After starting the car, air bag light continues to stay on. This is the second time in one year this has happened. This first time the air bag light came on the driver side sensor under the seat was replaced at dealer.

- Lubbock, TX, USA

problem #20

Jul 012009


  • 75,347 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen new Beetle convertible. The contact stated that the vehicle jerked when she changed gears. The failure progressed over time. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission needed to be replaced which was done at that time. The contact also stated that both the front window regulator motors failed; the vehicle was repaired at a local repair shop. The door lock actuators failed and were repaired at a repair shop. The air bag light illuminated and the contact was informed that the air bag sensor had failed. The vehicle was being repaired. The rear windshield was beginning to detach from the structure of the vehicle. The failure mileage was 75,347 and the current mileage was 93,800.

- Fort Mohave, AZ, USA

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