really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,667 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #65

Feb 112010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 82,000 miles


2003 VW new Beetle has a faulty transmission which is presenting a safety concern as the vehicle is driven on roads and highways. Car does not shift right, hard shifts, bucking, etc. And now stalling, probably a totally failed transmission for which VW is taking no responsibility.

- Baldwin, NY, USA

problem #64

Dec 182010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
VW Beetle 2003, 61,000 miles, I noticed it shifted hard shortly after I purchased it this past April; jerks while shifting between first and second, second and third, etc; went to VW after I received the warranty extension - transmission valve body letter (received in December 2010, but they are unwilling to cover the cost because the extension is to cover 7 years, and my car is 6 months too old; they've admitted the problem but refuse to fix it.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #63

Jun 202010


  • miles
VW Beetle 2003, 98,000 miles, started shifting hard about 6 months ago; jerks while shifting between first and second, second and third, and 4th to 3rd to 2nd to 1st; called VW after I received the warranty extension - transmission valve body letter (Dec 11, 2010) but they are unwilling to cover the cost (5 months too old); they've admitted the problem but refuse to fix it.

- Traverse City, MI, USA

problem #62

Dec 112010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


After warming up, the car's transmission jerks very badly, and runs wildly before shifting. The mileage is just 75K. It is really dangerous especially driving on the highway due to the hard shift. Many other owners have similar experience. VW must be responsible for this horrible defect.

- Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #61

Dec 082010


  • 69,000 miles
Volkswagen, 2003 new Beetle transmission problem.

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #60

Dec 072010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 81,200 miles
Defective valve body for 09G engine that VW corporate has known about and fixed in later models.

- Morris Plains, NJ, USA

problem #59

Aug 282010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,100 miles


Faulty automatic transmission activity. Low mileage transmission failures causing hazardous driving. Downshifting causes jolting gear changes, accelerating causes slip into neutral nearly causing rear-end collisions. Computer codes fail to correctly diagnose failure, causing dangerous driving hazard.

- Morris Plains, NJ, USA

problem #58

Nov 152010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 56,375 miles
For the last 6 months my 2003 automatic VW Beetle convertible with 56K miles has been shifting hard (lurch feeling) intermittently going up or down hills. When the mechanic inspected it the transmission readout said it was fine and this was normal wear and tear. On November 15, 2010 while driving in traffic at about 15mph, the transmission stopped grabbing and went into neutral. I was able to shift it to the tiptronic system to drive the vehicle safely out of the way. Upon inspection the VW dealer stated that they did not know the exact cause and only direction they got from VW national was to replace the transmission completely for $7K.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #57

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

problem #56

Nov 072010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
I bought a brand new VW Beetle convertible in 2003. A few years ago, I reported a number of instances of a lurching problem to my service guy at the VW dealership, and he said they couldn't find a problem. A few months ago, the problem came back full force, and he said eventually I would need a new transmission. The car has begun lurching and shuddering violently when shifting, and today, my RPM's were highly elevated, despite my low speed. I pulled over and turned the car off, despite being on the 101 freeway in la. It couldn't drive. It started up again, and this evening the same thing happened. I'm afraid to continue to drive my car. It's seven years old and it only has 40,000 miles on it. There's no reason for this dangerous problem to occur, and there should absolutely be a recall. Thank you.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #55

Jul 012010


  • 75,000 miles


2003 Volkswagen Beetle convertible automatic was "hard shifting" after warming up for 15-20 minutes from 1st to 2nd gear, and down from 4th all the way to 1st. This issue started after 75,000 miles. Fix = replace valve body...around $2000. I was told that this is a very common issue, and that VW has addressed this defect in newer models. This seems to be a manufacturer defect if it is a known, common, and fixed problem by VW.

- Covington, KY, USA

problem #54

Jul 232010


  • 60,000 miles
The car surges when shifting causing the wheels to spin out on wet surfaces.

- Kingwood, TX, USA

problem #53

Oct 162010


  • 89,000 miles
I too have fallen victim of the latest transmission problems. I have a 2003 VW Beetle with 90,000 miles in immaculate condition and experienced jerkiness in the transmission as well. When I would press on my brakes I noticed that as my automatic transmission was trying to shift itself down, it begin to jerk as it was shifting down. I made sure I maintained this car and was told all was well. Then one day I was driving it on the freeway and as I pressed the gas pedal it wouldn't go any more. I pulled over and shut it off. When I started up the car again I put it in D (drive) it would jerk forward and turn itself off. I took it to the mechanic and they told me it was stuck in 4th gear. When the mechanic checked it out I was told there were lots of metal pieces in the oil as if possibly something broke inside. How does this happen"???????? my warranty will only pay $2,000. 00 and the cost is approx. $6,000 to repair. Why do I have to repair this vehicle" I know it's mine, but the transmission was faulty.

- Mount Vernon, WA, USA

problem #52

Feb 182009


  • 74,000 miles
VW new Beetle,2003, with only 75,000 miles the transmission failed. I was on the highway, ramping up and the car was stuck in 3rd gear. Its an automatic. I wasn't able to down shift. I had to coast over to the side of the highway. The dealership decided I needed a new transmission. Luckily I was 13 miles under my warranty and they fixed it without charge. I wanted you to know this because I see many other owners having the same problem. I could have been in an accident because of this problem.

- East Hampton, CT, USA

problem #51

Jul 012010


  • 95,000 miles
I have VW 03' Beetle and transmission is going out early. Jerks between gears, and feels unsafe to drive on road.

- Petaluma, CA, USA

problem #50

Sep 062010


  • 65,955 miles
Near collision caused by defective automatic transmission solenoid valve body produced and installed on the Volkswagen Beetle and cabrio convertible models. The transmission is a 6 speed automatic tip-tronic shift style specifically used between 2001 - 2004 model years. The defective part causes a sudden jump or jerking motion between gear shifting. In our instance the car jerked and stopped in the middle of an intersection which nearly caused a vehicle collision. This has happened on more than on one occasion. Further research discovered that VW has known about the defective part and that it has caused or been the possible cause of accidents involving these vehicles as well as numerous and constant complaints to VW dealers and on line complaint forums. A replacement of the defective designed internal solenoid valve body is needed to avoid further damage to the transmissions and make the vehicle safe to drive. This is especially an issue for lesser experienced drivers and when he vehicles are engaged in heavy traffic conditions.

- Hurricane, UT, USA

problem #49

Sep 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,066 miles
2003 VW Beetle convertible. Automatic transmission began showing signs of trouble well over a year ago. Problem starts after 15 minutes of driving. Downshifts hard around 30-25 mph. Also shows hesitation coming out of 2nd to 3rd gear. Car has 75,000 miles. Had transmission fluid changed/flushed twice in past 6 months hoping that would help. Took to dealership today, quoted me $1900 to replace valve body. Are you kidding me" not to mention the fact that this car has had the rear window regulator go out -cost $300 to repair. The glue affixing the rear glass window to convertible top is breaking down. The check engine light comes on and appears to be some sort of malfunction with the gas cap...no matter how often I tighten it. Then it mysteriously goes off. Oh, and should you ever need a replacement key, good luck. Why couldn't VW use normal sized/type keys" VW is making crappy products. NHTSA please do something. This manufacturer should not be permitted to release another vehicle off its assembly line unless it fixes the many problems affecting innocent, unfortunate VW owners like myself. Yield your power and enforce some action. VW needs to be responsible for the junk they produce. Maybe then they'll think twice before turning out anymore crappy products. I will never own another VW product.

- Winston-Salem, NC, USA

problem #48

Aug 152010


  • 95,000 miles
Transmission bad.

- Elizabethton, TN, USA

problem #47

Apr 282010


  • 68,000 miles
2003 Volkswagen Beetle convervible transmission problems.

- Huntley, IL, USA

problem #46

Aug 012010


  • 88,000 miles
My 2003 VW new Beetle convertible has approx 89K miles on it. The automatic transmission shifts hard causing a jerking motion. It has progressed from a mildly noticeable to a more obvious jerking upon shifting. After researching this situation online, it seems as if it is a widely reported complaint about these vehicles. I feel like VW should resolve the problem being experienced by such a high number of owners.

- Winter Garden, FL, USA

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