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 1 of 2)

problem #31

Oct 012015


  • 85,000 miles


The right area of the driver's side heated seat began to get excessively warm so I discontinued use for a period of time. Subsequent attempt at use resulted in the heating coil burning through the upholstery. Pictures attached. I have discontinued use and learned there is an expired recall for this as a know issue.

- Albany, NY, USA

problem #30

Mar 042016


  • 15 miles
Driver side seat heater gets very got. On March 4, 2016 at 7:30am noticed a burnt smell as I parked my car (I had driven for about 20 mins). When I returned at 12pm for lunch, I noticed 2 burnt areas of my leather seat. March 5th, tried to use heater again but within 10 mins it got too hot to touch and burnt smell, really bad. I shut it off. I can't use this now. Very disappointed.

- Bellefontaine, OH, USA

problem #29

Feb 122015


  • 230,000 miles
Someone left the passenger side seat heater on. I started smelling a burning plastic odor then I came across a small burn mark. Another person left it on, the whole became bigger but no scent.

- Liverpool, PA, USA

problem #28

Aug 172015


  • 146,000 miles


Drivers side heated seat burned hole in seat fabric and burned pants and right leg. Local dealership stated "no recall issued for this vehicle".

- Wyoming, MI, USA

problem #27

Feb 052014


  • 125,000 miles
TL- the contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph a burning plastic odor was present inside the vehicle before the passenger suddenly experienced a burning sensation coming from the seated area of the passenger seat. The contact indicated that the passenger side seat heater element had over heated causing a burn hole in the seat and causing a minor burn to the passenger. The contact stated that a small flamed to the passengers right pant leg had to be extinguished during the incident and the passenger seat burn hole measured approximately 1 inch in diameter. The vehicle was diagnosed at the dealer. The contact was informed that the defect was caused by a faulty heat element inside the seat. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but no solution was offered. The failure mileage was 125,000. Jft

- Wilmington , DE, USA

problem #26

Sep 012012

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I started experiencing a hot spot in the driver's heated seat in the fall of 2012. I have to put a cushion between my right leg and the seat or it will nearly burn. I have also been having an issue with either the O2 sensor or catalytic converter whenever it rains and it's cool weather. The car will lose power, sputter and lurch until it has been running for a while then it acts normally. Finally, for the past two months the rear door locks will not open with the keyless entry or by hitting the lock/unlock button on the door. I just reached the 100K mark and keep up regular maintenance on my car so I'm a little upset that things like this are happening so early.

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #25

Mar 012013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 153,000 miles


Both front seats, the bottom right side bolster burned. The heated front seats will over heat, the failure appears to be confined to the right bolster on the bottom section of the seat. The heating elements get hot enough to burn through the seat material. Being the side of the seat I was able to shift my leg away and power off the heated seat. If left on the seats will start to smoke. I consider this a safety issue, I haven't tried, but it seems as though the seat could catch on fire if left on. The local dealer's service rep said just unplug it the option.

- Milton, VT, USA

problem #24

Nov 032012

Jetta 4-cyl

  • miles
After noticing for weeks that my heated seats would only work when turned to 5 (passenger seat doesn't work at all), my leg began burning while driving. I smelled something burning and looked down to see that there was a hole in my seat and there was smoke coming out of it. I immediately turned the seat off and haven't turned it on since. When I contacted VW, they told me that my vehicle was not included in the heated seat recall and that I would be responsible for the cost of diagnosing the problem as well as for the repairs.

- Camden, ME, USA

problem #23

Sep 122008

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • 95,608 miles
Shortly after turning the drivers seat heater on, operator smelled something burning and felt her left leg burning. Shut heater off and took to dealer, who acted surprised that we had a problem!! they charged us to look at the seat, claiming the power supply wire under the seat had been pulled apart shorting out the grid wiring. Long story short, they claimed something must have been jammed up under the seat causing the problem. They offered to do the necessary repairs for $630. I thought their answer was creative, but after reading all the other complaints which are virtually identical(quarter sized hole in the seat cover), I'm calling [xxx]. I am disgusted with how VW has responded to all of us. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #22

Jan 262012


  • 120,000 miles
Driver's seat heater malfunctioned. Right side of seat has small burn marks, is discolored, has exposed elements, and seat foam is melted. Two pairs of pants obtained singe marks on separate occasions. I drive the car to and from the city via interstate for 40 minutes each way. Seat heaters are typically on for about 20 minutes. Beginning in November when I used the seat heaters I could smell a slight burning smell. Since it was the beginning of the winter season I figured it was just heated dust on my seats from being inactive all summer. The final time I used the seat heaters (1/26/12) the smell got so bad that I had to open the sun roof for air. I also noticed the seats got hotter than usual and wondered if my seat back was heating at all. As was usual when the seat was hot enough I would manually turn off the seat heater. I did not know what was happening until one day when I noticed brown marks on the right side of my pants. I then looked at the seat and saw the damage to the seat. The driver's seat element was replaced in May 2006, the passenger seat August 2006, due to previous recall/warranty service.

- Hugo, MN, USA

problem #21

Jan 142012


  • 134,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, she smelled something burning. After inspection, she noticed a hole in the seat from the seat warmer becoming excessively hot. The dealer advised the contact to notify the manufacturer of the failure. The manufacturer informed the contact to take the vehicle to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The current and the failure mileages were 134,000.

- Newburh, NY, USA

problem #20

Jan 142012


  • 110,092 miles
My 2003 Jetta seat caught on fire while driving home. I was using my seat heater at the time. I was burned on my leg.

- Mason, MI, USA

problem #19

Dec 152011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
I currently own a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. Passenger seat heater gets extremely hot and very concerned due to burn risk to children as well as possible fire hazard.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #18

May 022011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
My drivers side seat heater doesn't recognize the setting of 0-5. it's either on, or off. Meaning, 0-4 the seat heater doesn't heat the seat. But when I turn it to 5 on the setting within 10 minutes the seat gets so hot it burns my legs through clothing.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #17

Jan 052011

Jetta 6-cyl

  • 55,822 miles
My 2003 Jetta driver side heated seat is failing. The problem started in January 2011. The driver side heater coil was recalled back in 2007 and had been replaced through the recall, however, the replacement part is faulty as well. This time, the heater coil has burned the leather seat and burned a hole in my North face down coat. Luckily the coat is thick so I did not get badly burned. I had contacted Volkswagen directly after this assuming they would replace the heated seat coil since the initial replacement from the recall was bad, they were not helpful and said the car was past warranty. Which it was by about 3 months. However, given the situation of a prior recall and replacement of the part with another bad part, I expected more from the company. I then went to my dealer who charged me $120 "diagnostic fee" to tell me the heat seater is faulty. They told me to take it up with Volkswagen. A second call and email to Volkswagen lead no where. This is a dangerous issue and replacement of one bad part with another bad part is not responsible. I see there are other complaints and investigations active on this same make, model and year car. I would like a credit for my diagnostic fee which anyone could see was a faulty seat based on the burn, and I expect Volkswagen to pay for a replacement seat cover and pad and bolster heaters as the seat is not usable as is and if it is used creates a very dangerous situation.

- Eden Prairie, MN, USA

problem #16

Jan 022011


  • miles
2003 volks Jetta passenger side heated seat stopped working, and the driver side only has two postions...burn your butt or off. Could have been a dangerous situation had I been on a hwy at hwy speeds.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #15

Jan 312011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
My seat heater failed in my 2003 VW Jetta, burning a hole in the seat under my left [xxx]. I was startled when suddenly there a strong burning smell in the car, then a hot spot in the seat occurred which caused me to have to quickly shift my seating posting and I immediately turned off the seat heater. Luckily I was driving slowly in the city and able to pull in the in a parking spot quickly and the seat or my clothing did not catch on fire. The seat was set to 3 on a scale of 1-5. the car has about 125K miles on it. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Bainbridge Island, WA, USA

problem #14

Dec 152010

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 56,493 miles
Heated seats melted a hole in the leather and burned my butt. Very very hot. It smelted like burnt rubber and smoke inside the car.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #13

Nov 212010


  • 176,200 miles
2003 Volkswagen Jetta passenger side heated seat became so hot, that the leather was burned, smoldered and began to catch fire. Since I was sitting on the seat at the time, it also burned my pants and my skin as well.

- Yakima, WA, USA

problem #12

Nov 082010


  • 0 miles
Driver side seat heater overheating, burnt multiple holes in seat as well as burnt leg. Setting was placed on 2 of 5 when seat was burnt.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

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