really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
94,144 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 lights problems

lights problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Volkswagen Jetta:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Volkswagen Jetta Owner Comments

problem #19

Jul 202007


  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. While driving approximately 50 mph on normal road conditions; the brake warning light indicator illuminated on the instrument panel intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection and the failure was contributed to the brake light switch. The vehicle was repaired; however, on a separate occasion the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for the identical failure. NHTSA campaign id number 07V063000, exterior lighting, brake lights; switch was repaired per the recall. The failure recurred after the recall remedy was performed. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 95,000.

- Kirkland , WA, USA

problem #18

May 212004

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
May of 2004, vehicle begins "lunging" when pressing the accelerator. According to dealership findings there was a tsb on this issue and software was outdated and updated by dealership. This seemed to have corrected the problem until October 2004 when the "lunging" began occurring again. According to dealership, a brake light switch code was found in the ABS section of the computer and the switch was replaced to resolve the issue. March of 2005, "lunging" symptoms returned. Dealership claimed they could not find a problem this time. Reported same issue again September of 2005, issue not diagnosed once again. Brake and tail lights have been replaced at least 6 times up to January 2006. Dealership could not find any issues, but swapped circuit boards from one side to the other and checked resistance of the circuits. Swapped bulb sockets and claimed issue resolved. Reported same "lunging" issue as above, again February of 2006. Dealership claimed throttle body extremely dirty. Issue resolved for brief stint. June of 2006 tail lights continue to burn out. Dealership claims no issue found. May of 2007, brake light switch replaced under recall campaign. Light bulbs have not burned out since this replacement. VW of America, Inc. Refuses to pay for service charges incurred to swap circuit boards even though it is clearly due to faulty brake light switch replacement back in October of 2004 (same defective switch was used as replacement). There is a clear line leading to the switch being the cause of almost all listed problems. Once the recall was complete, the issues have ceased.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #17

Dec 092006

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 63,180 miles
: the contact stated while traveling 45 mph, the rear brake lights stayed illuminated without depressing the brake pedal. There was a NHTSA recall #04V096000, regarding exterior lighting:brake lights:switch. The vehicle was not included in the recall due to the year. Updated 08/1/07

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #16

Dec 072006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 130,000 miles


: the contact stated while driving 60 mph, the brake lights were non responsive. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, who determined the brake switch failed. There was a NHTSA recall #04V096000 regarding the exterior lighting:brake lights:switch. The vehicle was exhibiting the same characteristics as indicated in the recall however, it was not included in the recall due to the VIN.

- Meriden, CT, USA

problem #15

Nov 062006

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 95,800 miles
Brake light switch failed, resulting in no brake lights. This was repaired by dealer only to fail again within a few days. When the brake light switch fails the brakes ether do not work or stay on when the pedal is pushed. Also if the brake lights do stay on the accelerator is non responsive since it is electronically controlled. This same switch has been recalled in previous model years, the same switch is being used in this model.

- Marietta , OH, USA

Search CarComplaints.com for these popular complaint phrases...

problem #14

Oct 172006

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 142,433 miles
I own a 2003 VW Jetta tdi. On 10/17/2006 I was driving down the interstate at 72 mph when my glow plug light began flashing. I had recently replaced the glow plugs so I contacted the dealership. They stated that it was most likely the brake light switch. I was not told that this problem causes the brake lights not to work. I later found out that other VW Jetta model years have the same defect and a recall has been issued for 99-02 models. Apparently 03 models have the same problem but dealers are not informing their customers of the safety issues related to a malfunction in the brake light switch.

- Jefferson, WI, USA

problem #13

Sep 152006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


2003 VW Jetta. Brake light switch is broken causing the vehicle to be undriveable. Also, the driver side windows keeps falling into the door.

- Rumson, NJ, USA

problem #12

Oct 152006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
Driving on the highway at night I noticed that my cruise control was inoperative. I researched the problem when I got home on a VW related website and found out that this was most likely due to a brake light switch located under the driver near the brake pedal. When the brake light switch is not working it causes the cruise control to also stop working. What I also found out is that since this switch was broken all my brake lights were not functioning. There would have been no way for me to become aware that my brake lights were not functioning unless I had connected the problem by researching it online. This poses a serious safety risk for those who would not associate a cruise control problem with the brake switch and therefore be driving around unknowingly without brake lights and could cause an accident by not having the proper brake lights operational. Fortunately in my situation it did not result in a rear end collision. I understand that vwofa has issued a recall for 1999-2002 models and I have a 2003 Jetta. It frustrates me that VW is not responsible enough to extend this warranty to later model years as the part has not changed. In my opinion they wait until they get enough complaints for the newer years before they authorize recalls for those years. (the 2004's will fail later and so on and so on). The part number that failed on my car is 1J0 945 511 C (on my car, but current part number is F revision). I hope that this complaint will get vwofa to be responsible for this serious safety related issue.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #11

Sep 272006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
2003 VW Jetta brake light switch became inoperable. This caused me to have no brake lights. This almost caused an accident as a person traveling behind be did not know I was stopping. Even more concerning is there is no indication light to let the driver of the Jetta know this has happened. VW had a recall on the 2002 model of this car for this exact same problem. Why not the 2003" it uses the exact same part! to see just how rampant this problem is just look at forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread"id=1158315&page=6.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #10

Sep 252006

Jetta 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving various speeds, the epc engine protection control light illuminated without incident. The vehicle was inspected by dealer who determined when the epc light illuminated; this was indicating the exterior brake lights were inoperative. There was a NHTSA recall, # 04V096000, regarding the brake lights. The vehicle was not included in the recall due to the VIN. The manufacturer was notified.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #9

Sep 162006

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 96,200 miles


I purchased a 2003 VW Jetta tdi wagon about a year ago, used. This car has been really great to me thus far, until my glow plug light started flashing at me the other day. After checking the manual, which basically said there was an internal error, and not much more, I decided to check the internet for more information. The search results mentioned that it is most likely a brake light switch problem and either the brake lights stay on, or shut off completely. So, after my wife checked the back of the car while I pressed on the brakes, sure enough, my brake lights no longer work! I checked the web some more, and it looks as if there was a recall for 98-02 Jettas for the very same problem. Being that mine is a 2003, my car does not fall under the recall! I did some more searches, and forums.vwvortex.com I found this thread, which details a diy method of replacing this $10 part. I'd rather do this myself if I have to pay the dealership to what amounts to an extortion fee for this 5 minute job. In my humble opinion, I think VW should replace this part, free of charge. I really think there should be a recall on my Jetta model because the failure of the brake light switch could cause a serious accident if people behind you aren't warned when you brake. The fact that the warning lights do not mention what type of a problem this is would further lead to more confusion. The fact that this problem makes my car illegal to drive because of the failure of the brake lights further complicates the process of bringing in this car to the dealership.

- Battle Creek, MI, USA

problem #8

Feb 082005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,969 miles
: the contact stated while driving at 35 mph on normal road condition problems were notice with the traction button for the esp system. The vehicle was taken to the dealership who determined the black brake switch failed. The brake light switch has been replaced for the purple brake light switch twice. The black brake light switch had a recall for 2002 model but does not cover the 2003 models. Additional problems are associated with the brake switch, which includes the traction button for the esp system and the park position lever which locks often. Also the contact once became stranded on a highway when the vehicle stalled and could not be restarted. The vehicle was towed to the dealership who replaced the ignition coil. All repairs made by the dealership has been covered by the vehicle warranty. The contact expressed concern about brake lights because represents serious safety problem

- Carmi, IL, USA

problem #7

May 312006

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Manual transmission
  • 45,000 miles
I have been experiencing a problem similar to the recall on 2002 VW Jetta's with faulty brake light. Except I have a 2003 model.

- Shiloh, IL, USA

problem #6

Oct 012005

Jetta 4-cyl

  • miles
2003 Jetta gears will not shift out of park. This is caused by a plastic submitter that controls the gear shift and brakes. The consumer was told there was an open recall for the 2002 model but not 2003. The would like to have his paid bills paid that were accidentally placed in an envelope. Updated 07/11/06.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #5

Feb 132006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,305 miles
Jetta brake light switch (on our invoice it is part no. 1jo-945-511-E") according to the service dept at commonwealth VW, this switch has been recalled as defective in other VW's, but not the Jetta. When it fails, the brake lights go out and the car will not shift. I bought this car new for my daughter, M. B., the registered owner, and I do not like the idea that she is driving a defective vehicle to and from our home in villa park, ca. To school in riverside, ca. (about 60 miles round trip) daily, and at night! this part should be recalled from all vehicles.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #4

Feb 012006

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 800,000 miles
VW claims the exterior brake lighting switch isn't a recall item or problem but not only am I having problems with the one for me car but the other VW owners here at my place of employment have encountered the same problem as well.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #3

Jan 282004

Jetta 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,858 miles
Purchased new 2003 Jetta May 2003. Since that time we have had to tow the car twice and repair same part 4 times. It is the brake light switch that breaks which means the car can not be taken out of park. Can not be moved unless it is towed or get it in when you first see it is going out yet again. This has happened Jan 28, 2004, Aug 2, 2004, May 31, 2005, and Oct 14, 2005. Twice it was serviced at the Volkswagen dealership in san luis obispo and twice at the dealership in fresno, California.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 182004


  • 20,000 miles
I got my 2003 VW Jetta in February of '03. Now not even a year and a half later I have huge problems with my car. My brake lights will randomly stay on even when the car is turned off. My windows do not always work properly. Finally the worst was that I was parked in my drive way, it is steep but the same place I have parked dozens of times, when the emergency brake let go in the middle of the night and my car rolled down the drive way eventually crashing into trees. I read on other complaints that there was one other person who had experienced the failure of the emergency brake and many others who had similar electrical problems. Well I called Volkswagen about my brake lights and they said that indeed there was a recall on my car as a result of a failing brake light switch. Turns out they had failed to inform me. I wonder what other recalls they have failed to inform people about.

- Ridgefield, CT, USA

problem #1

Sep 092003

Jetta 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
My brake light swich has been replaced 3 times on my 2003 Jetta tdi VW. Failure of this switch causes brake light's to either stay on consistently or not turn on at all. Loss of turbo in vehicle and can cause loss of power due to battery shut down.

- Apple Valley, CA, USA

Not what you are looking for?