really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
92,450 miles
Total Complaints:
7 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (5 reports)
  2. not sure (2 reports)
2004 Volkswagen Beetle transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Volkswagen Beetle Owner Comments

problem #7

May 012019

Beetle 1.8L Turbo

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles


Driving my 2004 Volkswagen Beetle is dangerous. The tiptronic transmission in the 2004 VW Beetle is known by Volkswagen to be defective. At any point the valve body can fail, which causes delayed shifting, and profoundly hard jerking between gears. My 2004 Beetle fails to shift when accelerating between 2nd and 3rd gear. This causes the vehicle to coast for several seconds, sometimes requiring pulling off the road because of traffic. Additionally, when downshifting, it jerks extremely hard.

Let me describe the experience driving this car. You get in, start the engine, and receive no warnings that anything is wrong with the vehicle. No check-engine light provides any indication that the vehicle is dangerous. So you start driving. Maybe you're going to get groceries. So you drive down some city streets and hop onto the freeway to go to your favorite grocery store. After getting off the freeway, the car is fully warmed up, and as it downshifts from 4th to 3rd gear it LURCHES. It feels like the engine is trying to jump out of the car! And yet, no engine light comes on.

Then you stop at the end of the off-ramp, waiting for a traffic light to let you turn. After getting off the off-ramp onto the street the car shifts from 1st to 2nd gear. Things feel fine. Then, when it attempts to shift from 2nd to 3rd gear nothing happens! There's a car immediately behind you, but you start losing speed. That gear still doesn't engage, and you're just coasting down the road. You cover 100ft. without any power. Drivers who are passing by are staring at you. The SUV behind you is right on your butt and they begin honking. There's nothing you can do.

Finally, after 10, 20 seconds of coasting the car enters 3rd gear with another giant lurch. It feels like it's going to explode! You pull into the grocery store parking lot, heart racing, knowing that the car you're driving almost caused an accident that could kill a half a dozen people. And you know to get home it's going to happen all over again.

This problem is reported by hundred of owners of the affected year. Please investigate, as this is an extreme safety hazard. Please force Volkswagen to recall the affected vehicles and offer payments for those who have had their transmissions damaged by this defective valve body and transmission.

- Charlie B., Grand Rapids, MI, US

problem #6

Dec 212017

Beetle Convertible 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

After looking on the Internet to see if others are having the same problem, I found that this was the norm, rather than an exception. If you have a Volkswagen Beetle with the six speed transmission, you can expect to have to replace the transmission. I consider myself fortunate that I got as many miles as I did, since the problem started at 30,000 miles with a number of others.

There was a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen that got overturned for some reason. I can't believe that the Volkswagen corporation would let such a problem go unrecalled and suffer such bad reviews from their customers. I can't understand why anyone would buy a Volkswagen product anymore. I owned several of the older Bugs, and consider them great cars.

I will never buy another Volkswagen product. That includes Audi and Porsche. I wish there were a way to notify others what they are getting into if they buy a Volkswagen product. And if by chance some VW honcho would like to buy a nice 2004 Volkswagen convertible, please let me know. As you may imagine, trying to sell this with all the transmission problems these cars have is impossible. Thanks for your opportunity to express my frustration.

- Jerry I., Midlothian, VA, US

problem #5

Aug 012015

Beetle LK 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

This 2004 Volkswagen Beetle is a danger to the highway for the driver, but also to anyone on the highway.

- carmenmazza, Niles, OH, US

problem #4

Aug 212014

Beetle GLS 2.0L 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


Auto transmission failed completely. Air-bag sensor light was on. Dealer quoted $500 to fix air-bag light. With complete transmission failure, repair was more than car was worth. Dealer offered $500. Only one salvage yard in the area. They offered $600. I took it. A ten year old car with only 72,000 miles should not have such problems. Maintenance over 10 year period was by the book.

- Eric D., Los Angles, CA, US

problem #3

May 172012

Beetle Turbo

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,320 miles

I purchased this vehicle as a second owner. Had I known what a worthless car this was gonna be I wouldn't have purchased it. Every time I take it to the Volkswagen repair shop, it costs roughly $1000+. What a rip off.

Now they are telling me to replace the transmission and it doesn't even have 100000 miles. The old Volkswagen's were very dependable and could be trusted for years. Why are dealers not made to stand behind the products they sell to the American people? No wonder our economy is in the shape it is in. No one cares about anything other than the all mighty DOLLAR!!!!!


I will never buy another Volkswagen product ever again. I will let everyone know the cost of repairing as my bug is in the shop right now being repaired.

- Debbie A., Hoschton, GA, US

problem #2

Dec 012012

Beetle Convertible 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,500 miles

Beetle was shifting extremely hard and died. Took it to Aamco. I was told they could not give me a quote until the transmission was opened. After it was opened it was determined that the transmission was not repairable. Volkswagen replacement transmission was $5000... And I had to pay labor. I nearly passed out on the spot. After that shock, Aamco found a second hand transmission for $3000. The axles were also damaged from the transmission. So to make a long story short, I paid $6000 for the replacement transmission, axles and the preparation and labor to complete the repair. Then I had to go to Volkswagen to re-program the drive train. And they found the mass air sensor and coolant sensor needed replacing. The car is driving fine now and I will not be going away on vacation this coming year. I would advise everyone on a budget to stay away from this vehicle. When running properly, it's a dream to drive. When problems arise, it becomes a nightmare. STAY AWAY!!!

- youngjetnew york, Spring Valley, NY, US

problem #1

Sep 032010


  • 52,000 miles

I am a 54 year old school teacher at the local Community College and can not afford th replace the transmission on my 2004 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. I only have 52,000 miles on my car and after contacting a Volkswagen technician was told that the transmissions on this model have been a real problem. I feel that Volkswagen should be held responsible for the cost of releasing a substandard product. I am very disappointed.

- Susan N., Hickory, NC, US

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