definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,296 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Volkswagen Jetta Owner Comments

problem #6

Mar 192010


  • 61,000 miles


We purchased an 03 VW Jetta wagon approx. 2.5 years ago. We changed the oil at the dealer every 5000 miles. We missed one oil changed and the engine stalled on the road. It was towed to a VW mechanic. We were told it a had total engine failure do to sludge-which they said was lack of maintenance. We paid 16,000 for the car, it had 40,000 miles on it, we put 20,000 miles on it. We contacted a lawyer and we were told there isn't anything we can do-it was sold as is. We contacted VW America and they told us Jettas' don't have the sludge problem, it's the passat with the 1.8T engine that has the problem. My research shows it's the 1.8T engine that is the problem regardless of the car it's in. We have no recourse. The car now sits in our drive way with new tires and a broken engine. A new motor plus installation would cost more than the car is worth. Once again the working people get screwed.

- Nampa, ID, USA

problem #5

Mar 202009


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that his vehicle stalls intermittently and the dealer cannot diagnose the cause of the failure. He has paid over $500 in repairs. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 62,000.

- Carrollton, GA, USA

problem #4

Nov 302008


  • 23,726 miles
I am complaining about failure of the ignition coils on a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta ( ) with the 1.8 liter turbo engine. VW has already recalled a number of Jettas of this vintage and with this engine for replacement of defective ignition coils. However, they have refused to pay for replacement of the coils on this car. One failed causing the engine to run poorly. The dealer recommended replacing all four coils at a cost of $384.48. The car only had 23,726 miles at the time of the failure. This defect can cause immediate engine failure. Clearly, the VW dealer believed that the coils are subject to unexpected failure at low mileage even though VW of America refuses to recall the particular vehicle.

- Chevy Chase, MD, USA

problem #3

Mar 262006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


2003 Volkswagen Jetta caught on fire while driving. A vehicle following my sons car on a major interstate (my son was out of state returning home) noticed smoke coming from under the car and blow horn and flickered lights. My son looked in his rear view mirror and saw smoke and immediately pulled off the road. The fire department was called by vehicle following. The Jetta never lost power and when he pulled off the road and he had to turn the ignition off. The Jetta was smoking and the fire started immediately and with in minutes full flames. There was a loud boom and it came from the front of the Jetta. The fire department could not get the fire out and had to break through the hood. The whole front (engine area) was burned. The Jetta was still under warranty therefore we personally went to the dealership to report (thinking still under warranty they would provide a rental and want to investigate) all they did was refer us to Volkswagen. I contacted Volkswagen on March 27, 2005 and to make a long story short I had to report to my insurance. Volkswagen also told me that if it was a manufacturer defect.... they would only pay what insurance would pay"?????" my son also talked to the owner of the dealership and all that was said is he (the dealership owner) was sorry and good thing he (my son ) had insurance. The dealership didn't even offer to try and help us get back into a vehicle. There was no indication (no engine warning, no power lose, smell etc.) there was anything wrong. The smoke was going up under the Jetta and out under the back. The blessing is the vehicle behind my son.... what if he hadn't caught my sons attention"????????? the auto insurance didn't cover for what was lost in the vehicle, just the Jetta. All scheduled maintenance were done as recommended by Volkswagen????"

- Hurricane, WV, USA

problem #2

Dec 152004

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,048 miles
The check engine light stayed on while the car was in motion. When the car was idling, the check engine light blinked. I was able to drive it to fairfax Volkswagen in fairfax, va to have the car checked out. Apparently there was a recall on the ignition coils, which had been out for over a year. I had no idea about the recall -- even after I took the Jetta to stohlman VW for service on my audio speakers in the fall of 2004. They never told me about the recall and it should have been repaired at that time. Fairfax VW told me that checking for recalls is their first priority, and that is how the recall was brought to my attention. I am very displeased with stohlman, and the service, or lack thereof, I received.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #1

Nov 222003

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My 2003 Jetta tdi was parked in front of my apartment building for approximately 40 minutes. When I went back out to the car to get in it, I found it with smoke billowing out from under the hood. As I started to pull the hood release to investigate, I noticed flames. I did not open the hood and instead quickly called the fire department and they responded asap. By the time they started putting out the fire, flames were engulfing the whole windshield from under the hood. After the flame was extinguished in reignited and had to be put out again. The car is inoperable. I only owned this car for three months and it was not even due for its first oil change. Now Volkswagen (VW) is stalling and has not even been to the dealership to perform its investigation. I am very upset that after two weeks no one has given me a progress update. I am seriously considering seeking legal advice.

- Goldsboro, NC, USA

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