really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 14
Injuries / Deaths:
11 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,761 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 Jetta accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Volkswagen Jetta Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Oct 132010


  • 40,000 miles


My car driver seat is burned with some smoke because of faulty seat heater.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #10

Oct 062010

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 185,000 miles
Overheated driver seat, which burned hole through driver's seat and left a 2" burn mark on sweater that was in contact with that area of the seat. This is a 2003 VW Jetta tdi (turbo diesel).

- Burlington, NC, USA

problem #9

Apr 052009


  • 75,000 miles
2003 Jetta seat fails in rear end accident.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #8

Jan 252010


  • 88,200 miles


Recall for 2003 Volkswagen Jetta- seat heater defect causing seats to get too hot even causing fire in some instances. Brought my Jetta to riverside Volkswagen in riverside, ca. Inspection and repairs made in 2006. Yesterday, 1/25/2010, driver side seat heater started to burn a hole in seat. Did not burn all the way through as I turned the heater off before hand. Felt something that resembled a bee sting before realizing that it was the seat heater that was malfunctioning. Burning smell detected. Called VW riverside, said that it would not be a covered fix based on recall info. Complaint of failed initial repair.

- Highland, CA, USA

problem #7

May 032009

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
I was in a rear end incident in which my 2003vw Jetta was struck almost dead-on in the rear by a 2009 BMW sedan. Both my wife, seated in the front passenger seat, and I, driving, were wearing three point seat belts. The airbags in our vehicle did not deploy. Both the drivers seat and the front passenger's seat were reclined almost completely as a result of the impact, to the point that any rear seat passengers we might have had in the car would have been pinned by the reclined front seats. Updated 05/20/09 updated IVOQ 05/27/09.

- Quincy, MA, USA

problem #6

Jan 252009


  • 154,000 miles
The heated seat on the passenger side of our 2003 VW Jetta tdi got very hot on my right leg, I reached down to feel the seat and it burnt my hand. We turned on the lights and the seat had a burned hole with smoke coming out of it. Had I been wearing my coat it could have caught fire before I felt the intense heat.

- Guyton, GA, USA

problem #5

Nov 022008


  • 61,000 miles


I use my heated seats almost daily in the winter months. I used it this morning for about 20 minutes as I drove from home to the gym, then another 10 minutes as I drove from the gym to the store. When I got into my car after the store, it was still on the same setting (5), I had driven about 50 yards in the parking lot, when I felt a sharp pain in my left upper leg/butt. I moved slightly, then began to smell smoke. I felt around with my hand and felt the "hot" wire and the hole in my seat. It took me a moment to realize what it was, and then I immediately turned down the heated seat to off, thereby preventing further damage and pain. Luckily there was limited damage to my clothing and I was not seriously injured, but had I been driving on the highway, or not been able to figure out what was causing the pain so quickly, there could have been more severe consequences including injury.

- Newton, MA, USA

problem #4

Apr 082008

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I turned on the driver's seat heater to 5 (highest setting) on my 2003 VW Jetta tdi when leaving my house at 7 am. I used this regularly to warm the seat for a few minutes on cold mornings, then would turn it off (lower settings never produced noticeable heat). Within one minute I felt a burning/electrical sensation in my upper left thigh. I was driving on a mountain road and the pain made me jump in my seat and nearly lose control of the car. I pulled over and turned off the seat heater (having heard of problems with the heater). The leather seat had a blister about the size of a cigarette burn but had not burned completely through. While I stopped the heater before it burned through the seat (and my pants), the real danger was in a possible accident from the burn/shock that caused me to momentarily lose control of the car. The seat heater is no longer safe to operate. My understanding from reading similar posts here and elsewhere is that the wiring is now broken in the seat (and many have had it break in the same spot). If I had not guessed the source of the problem quickly, or if someone were to unknowingly use the heat setter in the future, it could lead to a serious accident, personal injury, and car fire. Similarly, this poses a serious risk for other drivers of these vehicles who may not be aware of the problem and react too late. I request that the NHTSA urge VW of America to issue a recall on this dangerous and pervasive problem (many reports here and elsewhere, such as tdiclub.com and vwvortex.com). VW has issued a recall on this problem in Canada but not in the U.S. they also have a voluntary repair for passats of similar years, but not Jettas or golfs. Thank you.

- Santa Cruz, CA, USA

problem #3

Mar 282008

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,000 miles
The heated seats im my 2003 VW Jetta started to catch on fire.

- Hopkinton, IA, USA

problem #2

Jan 082006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
While driving driver smelled and could see smoke and realized drivers seat was on fire. Driver managed to pull over and put out fire on seat. Volkswagen of America did nothing - told owner they had nothing to say. Dealer replaced seat.

- Jupiter, FL, USA

problem #1

Jun 042005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 30,150 miles
I was driving my 2003 VW Jetta under normal road conditions. I stopped at a red light in an intersection, continued when it turned green. I hit a small sized pothole at the other end of the intersection at speeds below 15mph, which caused the wrongful deployment of the side curtain and seat airbags as well as locking the seatbelt tensioner making it inoperable. I inspected the vehicle after the incident and found no damage whatsoever to all body panels and wheels/tires. The following morning I had a mechanic inspect the car for any suspension or steering problems and none were found. I took the vehicle to the dealer where I purchased it to have it fixed under warranty and the dealer and VW of America have denied warranty repairs and have not yet done anything to fix the problem. I did research on the internet for similar incidents with this make and model and have found that there have been 500 similar incidents of spontaneous airbag deployment in 2002-2004 VW Jettas, golfs, gti and new beetles around the country.

- Roselle Park, NJ, USA

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