really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
82,066 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 Golf seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Volkswagen Golf Owner Comments

problem #6

May 102015


  • 130,000 miles


My son was parking his car at a state park and driving less than 2 miles a hour when the passenger airbags deployed. Several people heard the loud sound and ran over to see if anyone was hurt. His girlfriend's arm became red, with a rash and swollen. The seat and headliner are now damaged, and it would cost more to replace the airbags, seat and headliner than the car is worth. The insurance co will not cover the cost because there was no accident. Now, he will need to purchase another vehicle. There have been at least 107 reported complaints regarding airbags for 2001-2003 VW Golf and jetta. If my son had been driving on a main road or highway, this incident could have caused an accident. There should be a recall on the airbags before someone gets seriously hurt, if that hasn't already occurred.

- Torrington, CT, USA

problem #5

Jan 012007


  • miles
Ditto on the "NHTSA id number: 10252376". my 2003 base model Golf's airbags were turned off (airbag light on), and the issue was one of the 3 sensors in the driver's seatbelt latch stopped working. It's been many years ago (I bought it new), and I don't remember what year that was, but I did contact VW on this, and believe I also sent an E-mail to both NHTSA & iihs on this. This is an inexcusable design (GM is having a similar issue with its ignition switch & airbags being turned off). The seatbelt latch was replaced, and has been working fine for years now. It currently has 167,000+ miles on it. It does have some positives. The front brakes have never been replaced, and didn't have to replace the rear brakes until 90,000. The clutch has never been replaced, and still works good (even with a ton of stop-N-go traffic). There should be a legal requirement that all of the airbags are always on, no matter what, when the vehicle is moving, whether or not the ignition is on, the seatbelts are latch, etc. Also, there should be a legal requirement that all rear turn signal lights must be bright orange, not red. This is a safety issue. A bright orange light stands out as a turn signal, whereas a blinking red light could be the driver tapping on the brakes. Not easy to tell when you can only see one corner of a vehicle.

- Everett, WA, USA

problem #4

Feb 072014

Golf 4-cyl Diesel

  • 259,795 miles
Driving late at night, hit pothole that badly dented right front rim, caused passenger side curtain airbags to deploy, filling car with smoke and cutting off ignition. Contacted VW of America to advise them of incident. Will contact insurance, local VW dealer and collision shop for analysis this week.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #3

Jul 172009


  • 22,400 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Golf. While attempting to park, the contact noticed that the passenger side air bag suddenly deployed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the air bag needed to be replaced. The current and failure mileages were 22,400.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #2

Dec 202008


  • 80,200 miles
2003 VW Golf gl-I bought new & am the only driver of it. And just over 80,000 miles, the airbag warning light came on. I had to drive it around for over a couple of weeks before any of the VW dealerships would schedule me an appointment to spend a couple of minutes to connect their hand-held diagnostic tool to find out what the exact cause of turning on this light was. (I went to 3 separate dealerships in 3 different cities.) it turned out to be a defective seatbelt latch sensor. Even though the seatbelt light turned off indicating it was latched, the same latch also determines independently on whether or not to enable the airbags. I just had this part replaced today-12/20/08-at a cost of over $430. I found out that when the latch "thinks" the seatbelt is not connected, that it disables all of the 6 airbags, making the car that I thought I had at least most of the airbags still functioning, completely airbag-less. This is a severe safety issue, by VW's manufacture design to turn off all airbags based on a seatbelt latch, not a malfunctioning airbag. If the latch is giving valid feed back to turn off the seatbelt light, then there is no reason to have a separate contact in this latch for the airbags that disables all of the airbags. Safety parts like airbags should also be required to have the extended manufacturer's warranty like the seatbelts themselves & the emission equipment like the catalytic converter, which is around 150000 miles, isn't it? this is an extremely poor & dangerous design, to turn off all airbags even though there is nothing wrong with them. By the time the airbag light comes on to when owners can get it serviced, the owners unknowingly are driving in an unsafe vehicle that had its working airbags completely turned off because of a seatbelt latch switch that was working well enough to tell the seatbelt light on the dashboard to turn off. This alone should be enough to keep all of the working airbags functioning.

- Everett, WA, USA

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problem #1

Mar 182003


  • miles
While driving about 65 mph and without prior warning the consumer swerved to avoid another car. As a result the driver veered of the road into an embankment yet the dual airbags did not deploy.

- Glendale, CA, USA

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