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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Nov 122009


  • 78,400 miles


I started experiencing transmission shift problems on my '03 VW Beetle turbo, just around one year after purchase from a VW dealer. The vehicle was pre-certified at the time, since I couldn't afford the warranty, but the dealer had, I presume, declared it free of defects and problems. I took the vehicle back to the dealer to check the problem, upon which I was advised to replace the transmission at a cost of $4200. No further details were given as to the reason or possible cause for the problem, in spite of my requests for a description. The service advisor just stated "it needs to be replaced". I have since visited online automotive forums and found out this seems to be a problem with other owners as well. I am concerned now that even if I replace it, the replacement may have the same problem. In the mean time the transmission unpredictably starts slipping, or making a squeaking noise when slipping and at other times won't even shift for several seconds.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #24

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 #23

Jan 252009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Like almost all 2005 VW new Beetles with automatic transmissions, mine (after warming up) shifts very hard both up and down the gears and revs up between gears. Occasionally it hangs up in third gear until it sits and cools down for several hours. I have had it fail on multiple lane highways causing me to become trapped between lanes. This transmission is failing in most if not all VW Beetles and is very dangerous. Just do an internet search for "new Beetle transmission failure" and you'll see how pervasive it is. My Beetle began giving problems at 45,000 miles.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #22

Oct 202009


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 volkwagen Beetle which was purchased in 2008. While driving approximately 45 mph and accelerating or shifting gears, the vehicle would act as if it was going to stall and began to shake violently. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be rebuilt at a costs of over $6,000 at the owner's expense. No repairs were made to date. The current and failure mileages were under 100,000.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #21

Jan 012007


  • 60 miles
2003 Volkswagen Beetle 59,500K miles. In lower gears the car lurches forward, shifts violently and transmission slips. Car cannot get enough power in lower gears to move at a safe rate of speed. When going from park to drive or visa versa car violently jerks. There have been loud banging noises when car is shifting in lower gears. Many times while driving can cannot move fast enough because of violent shifting to get out of the way of traffic. Have almost been in several accidents because of transmission issues. Transmission issues happen every time the car is used. Not using car much because of the problems and concerned of safety issues. Problem has been going on now for approximately 2 yrs and is getting worse over time. Taking car to dealership to have estimate on repair.

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #20

Dec 102009


  • 71,000 miles
The transmission jerks in and out of gear. This happens in stop and go traffic and is very dangerous! I have read from other owners that they are having the same exact issues. My auto repair shop says there is nothing other than replacing the transmission.

- Hollister, CA, USA

problem #19

Nov 192009


  • miles


Car jerking, lurching, and shifting gears- transmission- as car starts and stops it jerks really bad this make it hard to stop the car...very scared that I will have an incident.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #18

Nov 102009


  • miles
VW Beetle transmission slips and jerks, may other individuals are complaining also. Very unsafe and the company does not seem to believe it is a defect in their product. Consumers need help.

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #17

Nov 162009


  • 77,000 miles
2003 Volkswagen new Beetle. 77315 mi. Transmission is faulty. Slips in and out of gear...bangs into gear shifting from 3 to 4. engine revs while transmission tries to "find" the next gear. This is dangerous ! please don't wait until someone is killed before forcing VW to be responsible for their faulty product !!

- Hampstead, MD, USA

problem #16

Nov 092009


  • 60,000 miles
I would like to file a complaint regarding my 2003 VW Beetle which I purchased brand new in April of 2003. I have just over 60K miles and it appears that my transmission is going out. I have taken it a reputable mechanic who tells me it could be approx $3000 to fix it. I have read on the internet that this seems to be a very common problem with the VW's and I think that Volkswagen should recall the transmissions and pay to have them replaced.

- Orange, CA, USA

problem #15

Nov 082009


  • 53,000 miles


2003 VW Beetle, transmission slips between 2nd and 3rd gear on upshift. VW 'rebuilt' the transmission last year but problem returned.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #14

Aug 102009


  • 120,000 miles
Over the last month or two my wife's 2003 VW Beetle convertible has had some issues with the manual transmission that progressively have gotten worse. Dealer says trans is bad with only 120K miles. Trans is non serviceable and would need to be replaced. When accelerating or decelerating trans slams between gears making car undrivable. Dealer wants $6500 to replace. Forums on the internet claim this has been an issue for years and VW is not doing squat about it. $6500 to fix a !@#$% transmission is ridiculous. When will there be a recall. This is unsafe!

- Sheffield Lake, OH, USA

problem #13

Oct 172008


  • 58,000 miles
Transmission failed to shift into manual from automatic while stopped. It was intermittent and at about 58,000 failure is permanent and no longer is usable.

- Webb City, MO, USA

problem #12

Dec 162008


  • miles
2003 VW Beetle shifts so very hard between 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear it feels like the car is going to break. Took to dealership to perform a diagnostic. They said it was the transmission gasket. I replaced it, problem still exists. Driver's side window rolls down on its own. Passenger side window hits the top (when putting it up) then rolls down. Dealership says this is a safety feature.

- Upper Marlboro, MD, USA

problem #11

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 #10

Aug 082008


  • 60,000 miles
I have a transaxel on my 2003 Beetle conv. That has a setting for manual shift or auto. I can no longer shift to the manual setting. At first it would allow me to shift into manual if I stopped then, I had to turn the engine off and shift quickly from park to manual. Now, nothing. They told me I would have to have a new transaxel installed. I have driven older VW for 20 years, now I will never buy another VW product of any kind.

- Webb City, MO, USA

problem #9

Dec 052007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,056 miles
I was involved in a crash while driving my 2003 VW Beetle convertible. I was unable to brake and avoid a semi-truck that was in directly in front of me. I was traveling at a speed between 30-40 mph but did lose conscience so am not sure if remember exactly how fast I was going. My airbag did not deploy and my seat belt did not lock causing my face to slam directly into the steering wheel. The passenger side airbag which contained no passengers nor items did deploy. I suffered facial fractures and a broken nose. My fractures have healed but my nose needs to be reconstructed. My car was serviced at a collision center and then sent to the autobarn in countryside, il where the car was bought used in August of 2006. The car was returned to me on Dec 27 but no explanation was given for the airbag not deploying. The transmission was also not working properly so I returned the car for additional service a few days later. The car was finally returned to me 2 weeks later with a new transmission but still no explanation for the airbag. Upon leaving the autobarn on January 17 with my car, the air bag light turned on and stayed on while I drove about 10 miles. I returned the car the next day and the service department stated the light did not go on for them and offered again no explanation.

- Lombard, IL, USA

problem #8

Jun 222006

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles
When attempting to put car into reverse brake switch does not respond. This has happened numerous times. Driver side window goes back down by itself. Also car shifts real hard in second and third gear. Sounds like transmission will break.

- Mineral Wells, TX, USA

problem #7

Jan 012004

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Transmission shifts hard around 20 mph. Jerks so hard sometimes it seems like the car will stall out. Dealership says this is normal. I can't imagine that it is good on the transmission!? this has been happening for the past three years.

- Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #6

May 162006

(reported on)

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Volkswagen new Beetle failed. The vehicle jerked like it was going to cut off. The dealer has installed a new transmission but the problemm has recurred.

- St. Paul, MN, USA

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