pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
117,050 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
  2. replace transmission (2 reports)
  3. magnets in shifter (1 reports)
2003 Volkswagen Beetle transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #5

Aug 012018

Beetle Convertible

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,568 miles


Aamco told me the tranny was shot. It wouldn't shift right when it warmed up. 1st, 2nd, low, hard into 3rd & 4th (which would be 2nd if it wasn't a 6 speed automatic) then not into the 5th and 6th which is Drive. The RPM's would be around 600 and 700 at 40 mph. A second opinion is always best. My transmission was NOT the problem. There are magnets in the shifter and if they break your car won't shift. Used they cost around $300 and new it was $1,102 and that was installed. Now six thousand dollars for a tranny, just eleven hundred for magnets. So get a second opinion ... K&M are real good if you need work, they saved me my transmission which was not the problem, but if your like me I thought it was the transmission by the way it acted. It drove fine, then when it warmed up it would not shift up to drive.

- Rhonda V., Vancouver, WA, US

problem #4

Nov 282015

Beetle 1.8L Turbo

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

I bought the car two ago. I should have took it back but didn't. The transmission went out and starting leaking. What can I do do about anybody know. The people I bought it from didn't want to do anything.

- daleclark, Claremont, NC, USA

problem #3

May 162014

Beetle TDI 1.9L Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

I've been driving my automatic 2003 VW Beetle (Diesel) for 7-8 years and noticed the occasional jerkiness when shifting between gears. Last Friday whatever was wrong with it finally gave up the ghost, as when I stopped at a light, when the light turned green and I pushed on the gas, it just sat there and rev'd then slammed into gear and I was able to drive. It did this several more times, each at a stop light, before finally going out completely. Reverse still works, but no longer will it work in Drive, D2 or D3.

Searched the internet and found lots of other complaints about the 2003 and 2004 VW Beetle Transmissions. So it's a known issue with VW, but they are not willing to do anything about it.

- elvis360, Woodinville, WA, USA

problem #2

Sep 012013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

VW has a long history of not standing behind its cars. VW has known about this transmission defect, yet they continued to produce bad transmissions, and they refuse to accept responsibility for fixing this potentially dangerous problem. VW is not customer friendly in the USA because VW knowingly screws its automotive owners. A good car company will acknowledge its faults, and it will correct its problems before being FORCED to do so by government agencies.

- wibeetle, Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #1

Nov 052009

Beetle GLS 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,600 miles

This problem has been reported in the 2004 Beetles, but I have a 2003 that is doing exactly what the 2004's are doing. The trans has been hard shifting, jolting into gear or slipping since I purchased it 16 months age. The problem has been intermittent until now and has left my mechanics scratching their heads. The slipping has now escalated into the car going into "Limp Mode" and only traveling in 1st gear. I have noticed that the slipping seems to get worse as the transmission warms up and becomes the most severe on the way home rather than when it is cold starting out. It has been to the repair shop 3 times already for the slipping and they have been unable to determine a cause after charging me over $600 in diagnostics, services and failed attempts at repair. I will be returning it to the shop in the morning and will be bringing the information I have uncovered about the 2004 models with the same problems, but from what I have read, I have no confidence that the problem will be resolved. VW has lost a consumer for life.

- Rose H., Auburn, CA, USA

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