really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 44
Injuries / Deaths:
25 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,558 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 Passat accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments (Page 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #41

Oct 242005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 54,800 miles


After turning on driver's side seat heater to 5, within 2 minutes noticed burning smell, felt hot burning sensation on left buttock and smelled and saw smoke. One centimeter burn hole in seat. Terrible burning smell in car. Turned off seat heaters immediately, seat smoked for 10 more minutes.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #40

Aug 252005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,900 miles
On a cool night about a week ago, I turned on the heating element in my 2003 Volkswagen Passat gls 1.8T (driver's side seat). After about 30 seconds I felt a sharp burning sensation in my left thigh, and smelled a burning smell. I stopped the car, shut off the seat heater, and when I got out of the car I noticed a small burned hole in the left side of the driver's seat base. The heating element burned through, damaging the seat (and burning my thigh). This is a dangerous problem that needs to be addressed by VW before someone gets seriously hurt! I am making arrangements to have the problem fixed (including a full seat replacement to fix the damaged !).

- North Chelmsford, MA, USA

problem #39

Mar 112005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 17,800 miles
Drivers seat caught on fire within 30 seconds of starting vehicle, left cigarette size burn hole in seat, drivers pants, and left burn mark on drivers buttocks.

- St Charles, IL, USA

problem #38

Apr 042005

Passat 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles


I was driving my 2003 VW Passat down the highway in dallas morning rush hour. I turned my heated seat on and I was forced off the road by an extreme heat on my backside/leg. I did not know if the seat was on fire or what. The seat had melted leather and left a superficial burn on my rear end. The seat will spark and smoke if the heater is turned on. I want out of this lease!!! the car is not safe and upon research this is happening a lot.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #37

Apr 292005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
I turned on my seat heater one morning, I smelled smoke and the leather seat was smoking. The seat heater malfuntioned and almost burnt me as well. I pulled over and it burnt a hole completely through my leather seat!!!

- Edina, MN, USA

problem #36

Feb 282005

Passat 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles
Seat heater overheated, burning seat cover and driver's leg.

- Livermore, CA, USA

problem #35

Jan 142005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles


While driving in town with the driver's seat heater on 5, my wife felt a burning sensation on her thigh and burned her finger when she reached down to feel what was happening. She pulled over and found a 2cm hole burned through the leather. When I took the vehicle to herb easley motors (our local VW dealer), the service manager insisted that the burn was from an external source (no one in our family smokes...). he refused to fix the problem (vehicle has 22,000 miles and is under full warrant)Y, and he claimed his VW regional representative had told him they would not cover repair of the vehicle. When I contacted VW consumer care, they arranged for me to work with cable Volkswagen in Oklahoma city. Cable told me they have fixed "dozens" of these seats, and they knew exactly where the problem was without my telling them (they also said they have only seen the problem in the driver's seat, which is contrary to what others here are saying...). I had to drive 150 miles for cable VW to inspect and order parts, and we are now awaiting backordered parts for the repair (they've warned me it could take months for the parts because of the volume of repairs being made). VW insists there is nothing they can do to compensate me for having to go to another state to have the problem fixed or the two months of infuriating runaround from herb easley, their authorized service location.

- Wichita Falls, TX, USA

problem #34

Jan 072005


  • miles
Front driver's seat heating devise malfunctioned. The heater burned a hole through the seat, and through my shirt. After 8 weeks, the seat was replaced and a "fix" was done to the passengers side seat. The new seat does not heat well.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #33

Feb 092005


  • 30,000 miles
A hole was burt into the driver's seat when the seat heater was left on. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- Niagara Falls, NY, USA

problem #32

Mar 052005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,540 miles
My wife and I had made 2 short drives within the span of about 1/2 hour with the passenger seat heater set at various intervals from 5 (high) to 3 (medium) and then we stopped to eat (~45 minutes). On the trip home, within 2 minutes with the seat heater set to 5, my wife felt a burning sensation on her leg and we smelled some kind of odd odor. She shut the seat heater off and moved off the hot spot. Upon further inspection, the cloth seat had been burned through. My wife also had a burn on her leg. The dealership told me that VW has changed manufacturers and will replace the defective seat as the car is under warranty. I asked about the driver's side but because there is not an official recall, they cannot replace it. I'm sure a driver's seat going amok could cause a crash. Consequently, even though this was an extra charge item on the car, we'll be afraid to use the seat warmer for fear it too will overheat and burn us. Note: Not sure if "was there a fire" should be yes. There was no flame but there sure was a burn.

- Doylestown, PA, USA

problem #31

Mar 052005


  • miles


Driving my 2003 VW Passat I had the seat warmer on. I simultaneously smelled burning and felt burning in my butt. I turned off the seat warmer immediately. I was on the highway with my wife and 7 year old son. We were near an exit and exited the highway. I pulled to the side of the exit ramp and discovered that the heating element had burned through the seat. The hole was a bit smaller than a dime. The smell was pungent but cleared out when we opened the window.

- Falmouth, ME, USA

problem #30

Feb 202005

Passat 6-cyl

  • miles
While driving with the seat heater turned on, noticed that the seat became very hot, and it starting feeling like it was burning my legs. Smelled smoke, and realized the seat was burning; the seat heater had burned a hole through the fabric of the seat under my legs and was filling the car with smoke. I managed to turn the seat heater off, which stopped the seat from further burning. I called the dealership where I had purchased the vehicle and set up an appointment to have the seat replaced.

- Denville, NJ, USA

problem #29

Feb 142005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
While driving 30 mph driver's heated seat burned through the seat and consumer's pants. No injury was reported, and the dealer was notified.

- Stafford, VA, USA

problem #28

Feb 102005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 37,000 miles
Seat heater in 2003 VW Passat was turned on. Approx. 3 minutes later the heater burned my jeans, and my skin. I looked down to see what was happening and saw smoke coming out of my seat. I turned the seat heater off and extinguished the smoldering seat. Went to VW dealership and they had to order the part B/C there are none available in the us right now.

- Damascus, MD, USA

problem #27

Dec 212004

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles
Driver seat fire. Remember Firestone, luckily I was not on the highway because it may have caused me to crash into another car and kill someone else or someone in my family as the electric shock from the seat was unbearable - let alone my left pant leg burn through to my skin. It blows me away that VW has not recalled all vehicles with same heating elements. Should this occur to an elderly person things may not turn out so successfully. Please publish immediately! thank you. David M. gilblair sr.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #26

Jan 222005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,800 miles
While driving the vehicle I noticed a burning smell and felt a stinging sensation in the rear of my left thigh. I touched the seat and found it had become very hot C in one spot and immediately turned off the seat heater which had been set on "5". upon arriving home I found the heater had burned a hole through the leather seat. Car is under warranty and dealer said new seat cover and padding will be ordered for replacement.

- Southampton, NY, USA

problem #25

Feb 042005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 47,500 miles
Seat caught fire due to heating element inside seat. My wife was in the car when I left to go to an atm and she swatted out the flame coming from the drivers side seat. The seat heater was left on position 3 of 5 for less than 5 minutes when the incident occurred.

- Livonia, NY, USA

problem #24

Jan 102005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 29,700 miles
While driving 25-30 mph the heater in the driver seat over heated and burned a hole through the seat and the consumers wool coat. The dealer and the manufacturer were both notified. Seat cover and element had to be replaced.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #23

Jan 312005


  • miles
Drivers heated seat caught on fire.

- New Bedford, MA, USA

problem #22

Jan 282005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
Driving with my driver side seat heater on - smell a burning - feel the seat - quick burn to my hand - seat heater burnt hole through leather seat - immediately shut-down heater.

- Moyock, NC, USA

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