really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 41
Injuries / Deaths:
33 / 1
Average Mileage:
34,325 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 1 of 4)

problem #69

Mar 052012

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


Back in 2007 recall for heated seats in Volkswagen's. issued recall fixed both drivers and passengers seats as new ones were ordered and shipped in from overseas, due to both catching fire and burning holes in seats one seat being the drivers burnt a hole in my jeans and burned myself. As of 3/5/12 drivers side seat is getting so hot it has burnt the material on the seat again as it started smoking. Quickly turned it off. Problem thought was fixed as recall in 2007, not fixed apparently.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #68

Nov 052010

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
I am the owner of a 2003 VW Jetta. I was recently burned(11/2010) by the seat heater while driving and the car seat smelled like it was going to start on fire. My car had a recall not long after I bought it for the seat heaters. It is obviously a malfunction in the seat heater that VW has had numerous problems with based on the recall and the plethora of complaints on the internet. I can no longer use the heating unit. I took it to patrick motors in auburn, MA where I bought the car. They said it was out of warranty and they would charge me to look at it to see what the problem was and then maybe ask vwoa if they would help. I was not willing to pay more money for something that is obviously a manufacturing problem and has been documented as problematic.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #67

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 #66

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 #65

Feb 262008

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,500 miles
Drivers side heat seater failed about 2 months ago. It got hotter than normal when on setting #3, I turned it off, and from that point on it didn't work. Two days ago, I had the drivers side seat heater replaced at the kaiserslautern, germany VW dealership. While driving home from work, the seat became extremely hot while only on setting #2. it was so hot, that I smelled something burning, and could not sit down while driving because of the extreme pain to my buttocks. I reached down with my hand to confirm the heat and also burned my hand. Note that I was only running the seat heater on level 2 of 5 for approximately 5 minutes. Upon inspection of the seat, there is now a hardened plastic feeling area where the leather on the seat was the hottest. Had I not immediately turned off the heater, it is very likely that the entire seat would have caught on flames. Additionally, since this occurred while driving and I was unable to properly sit in the seat, an accident could most certainly have occurred on the spot. I immediately spoke with the dealership and they said they will replace the heater but not the seat. They say the damage to the seat is not extreme enough to replace the entire thing. However, I feel it is their obligation to replace it because the damage was caused by their installation of a factory item that has already failed once.

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #64

Feb 222008


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Had the driver's side heat seater on. Felt a shocking sensation and smelled smoke. Pulled over, turned off heat seater and exited car. There is a hole burned in the seat and it took over 5 minutes for it to stop smoking.

- Manlius, NY, USA

problem #63

Nov 052007

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,375 miles


1. 2003 Jetta wagon passenger heated seat got extremly hot and then quit working.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #62

Dec 272005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that there was a recall on the heating switch for the seats in her daughter's vehicle. The failure was replaced with a new switch, but the switch failed a few months later. The switch burned through the leather seat and would not shut off. The failure occurred while driving 55 mph. The contact's daughter sustained blisters, a scar, and minor burns. A police report was filed. The purchase date was unknown. The current mileage was 60,000 and failure mileage was 50,000.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #61

Feb 142007

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 71,000 miles
Driver's electric seat heater element in 2003 Jetta caught fire burning hole in leather seat and burning driver.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #60

Jan 292007

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,499 miles
- the contact stated that the 2003 Volkswagen Jetta station wagon, caught on fire. The contact stated that while driving 20-25 mph the driver's side seat caught on fire while the seat heater was operating. The seat sustained a hole the diameter of a pencil. The seat burned passenger buttocks, but didn't catch his clothing on fire.

- Snellville, GA, USA

problem #59

Oct 062006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Since I have had my Jetta the seat warmers have been hot. I contacted the dealership who advised that is how they work. Since then my seat warmer has burned a hole in the cloth seat and has burned me. It also creates sparks when turned on.

- Mentor, OH, USA

problem #58

Nov 232006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 49,200 miles
Driver turned on the seat heater on a cold evening after starting the car. The driver-side seat heater begins to overheat and smoke with three minutes. The driver almost hit a parked car while attempting to avoid being burned by the seat. The drivers no longer use the seat heater on the driver side, at a loss of $300.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #57

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 #56

Feb 182006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,281 miles
The heated seat on the driver side of my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta 4dr sedan burned a hole through the seat and through my wife's jacket.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #55

Dec 012005

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
: the contact stated the seat warmer overheated and started smoking. Although a small hole formed in the seat cushion there was not visible evidence of a fire other than smoke.

- Cary, IL, USA

problem #54

Dec 172005


  • Manual transmission
  • 63,590 miles
I have had this car since 10/31/02. I purchased it new. I bought it for my teenagers to drive as they begin since it is a safe car. Last weekend, (12/17/05) I was personally driving the car, and the seat warmer on the driver's side got so hot that it actually burned a hole in the seat, and the car smelled terrible for several days after. I think that having to fear an electrical fire in my car is outrageous.

- Edwardsburg, MI, USA

problem #53

Dec 132005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,150 miles
I own a 2003 VW Jetta 1.8T with front heated seats. Drivers side seat caught fire due to a short in the seats heater 2 days ago on 12/13/2005 after the heater was on for less than 2 minutes. Burning a small hole trough the seat to the bottom area of my left side (buttock) I have come to find since this happened, my NHTSA has been investigating 2002, 2003 VW Jettas for seat fires with this exact problem for over a year now. Why, as the original register owner of this model was I not informed of this investigation and the possibility of a fire inside my car, while me, my wife and my 5 year girl are in it! the problem with the above is that it was not a possibility, it just was a matter of time and in my case, the time was December 13th at approximately 7pm at night. This car has been a problem since the first 3,000 miles, with water pumps and door latches, firmware updates, violent shaking of the vehicle in cold weather starts, electrical problems ranging from entirely immobilizing and stranding me to the car partially being immobilized the VW Jetta to automatic transmission shifter issues which include the cars shifter being able to be moved when the key is not even in the ignition to a position in the shifter selector because a cable was never connected to prevent that, that should also be a NHTSA safety issue too on this car. But first I want you for the love of god contact the owners of these cars before real tragedy happens if that all ready has not happened. I have just talked Volkswagen customer care advocate at VW America, they have not warned their customers of this, who will. Again since this has happened I see many people on the internet have experienced the same thing. Please notify the owners first, then contact me second. Please!

- Sun Prairie, WI, USA

problem #52

Nov 142005


  • miles
The seat on my 2003 VW Jetta caught fire today. As a result, there is a nickel-size burn in my seat and my pants.

- Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #51

Nov 112005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
At approximately 5:15 am this morning I started my car and turned on the driver's side heated seat. After waiting approximately 2 minutes for the rpms to drop below 1000, I placed the vehicle in drive and began heading for work. I immediately smelled something burning. I traveled less than an 1/8 of a mile to a stop sign. After stopping the vehicle and placing it in park, I opened the driver's side door, pulled the hood latch, and quickly stepped out of the vehicle. I left the car running and the driver's side door open while I opened the hood to inspect for the source of the burning smell. After approximately 2 minutes of inspection I determined that there was nothing burning in the engine compartment. I closed the hood and while standing at the front of the vehicle I noticed smoke coming from the driver's seat. I immediately ran to the driver's side door and discovered a small fire in the front seat. I turned the vehicle off, turned the driver's side heated seat off, and managed to extinguish the fire. This has been a very traumatic event. Reflecting on the typical usage of the heated seats by myself, or worse yet my wife, the outcome could have been catastrophic. The seat was literally on fire in less than five minutes. I can not imagine what the outcome might have been if this had occurred during rush hour traffic. If I had not exited the vehicle to inspect the engine compartment, I would have suffered burns. After talking to customer service I was informed that there was a recall on the seats. I have had my vehicle serviced at the Volkswagen dealer that I purchase the vehicle from since day one and they never did any recall work on the seats. I searched your sight for recall information on my vehicle and there was no data. I wanted you to be informed. I would hate to find out that someone was burned in there vehicle during normal operation.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #50

Oct 172005

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I own a 2003 Jetta tdi wagon and my front seat heater has burned through the seat.

- Proctorville, OH, USA

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