really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
82,611 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Volkswagen Jetta Owner Comments

problem #13

Mar 152008


  • 77,000 miles


This is in regard to tiptronic transmission failure at 77,000 miles. After the vehicle was fully paid off and 17K miles after warranty had expired. While I was driving vehicle would stay in 1st and 2nd gear and give a big jolt when going into 3rd and 4th while still cold, only after engine would heat up without any stops would it perform sub par. Previous to this I had have no complaints. Dealer quoted $5600 to rebuild transmission and independent shop $2500. I was informed I had a worn clutch and in 2008 I rebuild the transmission and continued having the same issue. After thousands of dollars spent on this vehicle on April 12 of 2012 I sent it the junkyard. I will follow up and send more hard copies documents to NHTSA as I have my entire service records from 2003 - 2012 to submitt. There are 100's of other american car owners with tiptronic transmission experiencing same issues and its apparent that it is faulty manufacturing.I'm attaching several pdf documents with articles and other similar costumer complaints. I have all my service records and will submit hard copies separately however wanted to get the complaint started here. The year of my vehicle was never included but its obvious this issue has been happening longer then previous recalls.

- Biscayne Park, FL, USA

problem #12

Apr 152016


  • 132,306 miles
Having worked in VW dealerships my transmission control module is failing at only 130,000 miles on it which has been an ongoing issue and complaint by many. When it acts up it won't upshift or will drop down into low gear and one has to worry about being rear ended when this condition occurs.

- Newton, NJ, USA

problem #11

Mar 012016


  • 130,000 miles
When the car is started and the engine is cold, below 190F, it will not engage reverse gear, all other gears will operate. After the engine reaches 190F, the reverse gear will engage. This car has a sealed automatic transmission so no owner maintenance is possible and fluid levels can not be verified.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #10

Oct 152015


  • 162,000 miles


Transmission sometimes just doesn't want to shift properly I was driving along rt 50 at 60 mph when the car jerks really hard and loss of power almost got ran over by semi called VW who is aware of valve body defect and they told me that it was indeed my fault for driving it like that it just happened waiting on call from vwoa probably will lead no where I want this fixed asked for help to get parts or ect I know there was open recall on this but my car exceeds year and mileage but a safety recall is just that so please research and see if it was preformed on my vehicle I am sure it was not addressed but they sent letters out for this mystery recall also I can lead to other internal failures of trans or replacement my speedo also jumps 10-15 miles up and down other times it will work you can contact state hwy patrol they can tell you even more about these problems.

- Athens, OH, USA

problem #9

May 272015


  • 64,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. While driving approximately 5 mph, the vehicle slowed down and would not accelerate. The failure occurred without warning on four occasions. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 64,000.

- Sandy , UT, USA

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problem #8

Dec 262013

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
According to a VW dealer, the catalytic converter on my 2003 VW Jetta failed at 89,000 miles. The VW dealer stated that it failed because the mil illuminated and the car's computer shows code P0420. The dealer also stated that the vehicle is no longer covered by any warranty.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #7

Sep 242011

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles


The rear O2 sensor on my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta failed causing the mil indicator to illuminate. The sensor had to be replaced, and is not covered under the extended warranty for emissions.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #6

Dec 292010

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
Bought this car October 2010 from berge VW AZ. I noticed a few months after I bought it that it intermittently would kick into gear. I called the dealer and ask about it and they said it was normal, never brought it in just talked to a friend of mine from the dealer. Turns out in Nov 2010 they sent all VW owners extended warranty paperwork for the valve body on these Jettas for the exact problems I am having. I replaced speed sensors and everything. No now I am being told its the valve body and I never got a letter and I just hit 102K last month but I am outside the 7 years. VW knows this part goes bad. There should not be a year on it for vehicles like mine that have low miles! I can prove it was happening before the 100K miles. Help!

- Tempe, AZ, USA

problem #5

Jul 032010


  • 96,778 miles
My transmission takes along time to shift to 2nd gear, wont P/U speed, if you turn off car for a few mins sometimes it works better. Sorry its a 2003 Jetta.

- Sylmar, CA, USA

problem #4

May 272009


  • 128,250 miles
Engine casing broke where the motor mount connects, got that repaired. 2 days later while driving on freeway, engine makes loud noise and seizes. Undriveable, wont start.

- Carson, CA, USA

problem #3

Mar 042008

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 46,608 miles


The clutch on my VW Jetta burned out on a major interstate and was a very dangerous situation. The car had 46,604 miles on it and should have lasted many miles above that but I have learned of 100's who own the same car with this same situation.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #2

Jan 012003

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
I have owned a Volkswagen Jetta (turbo - 2003) and have had one horrible problem after another. Without fail, I have taken my vehicle in for random mechanical repairs every few months since purchasing the vehicle. I found out the car was manufactured in Mexico and that VW was aware of how bad their car's manufactured in Mexico were. If that is the case, how can so many car owners with so many mechanical issues continue to sell in this country? I would like to report VW for lackluster performance and for continuing manufacture in an area well known for its below average standards and for continuing to bleed the consumer when it is fully aware of the issue.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #1

Jan 012004


  • miles
My 2003 VW Jetta constantly gets stuck in park longest time has been 45 minutes my car has been into service 3 times and is still rough coming out of park also my cruise control has never worked I only have 6000 miles.

- Clifton Heights, PA, USA

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