hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,326 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #10

Aug 242015


  • miles


The ad blue heater failures are rampant is all Passat models 2012 to 2015. The safety issue is that in the winter time when ad blue freezes the car goes into a non restart countdown. If the car stalls during this time the person may be stuck in sub zero weather without heat. The ad blue heater is only covered under the 3 year 36,000 mile warranty because they say it does not qualify as emissions control system. The car will shut down because if the ad blue freezes the emissions goes unexpectedly high so how can this not be part of the emissions system? the cost of repair is $1,000 plus.

- Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #9

Apr 152014

Passat 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Car was constantly getting the passenger side (front and back) flooded w water during a rain storm. Had to get new battery cleaned out sunroof drainage. It didn't matter. Whenever it rained the battery would be dead because the control module which is there is all messed up sending mixed messages. Finely just died in the middle of the road. Not worth putting money into the car. I purchased this car less then a year ago and had this problem after the first rain and went down from their. Im so disappointed hoping buying a used VW I was going to be satisfied but had nothing trouble from day one.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #8

Nov 062013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the gear shifter could independently shift from park to drive without the contact depressing the brake pedal. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection but the cause of the failure could not be determined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The approximate failure mileage was 103,000...updated 12-26-13 the consumer stated property damaged resulted, due to the brake failure. Updated 12/30/13

- Cedar Grove, WI, USA

problem #7

Jul 092013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Acura MDX. The contact stated the transmission on the vehicle shuttered while driving 40 mph. The contact stated the shuttered stopped when he took his foot off of the accelerator pedal, but it started to shutter again when it was engaged. The shuttering seemed to occur between third and forth gear. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer. The failure and current mileage was 66,000.

- Cedar Grove, WI, USA

problem #6

Feb 012013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
On or about Feb. 1, 2013, I started my manual-transmission 2003 Volkswagen Passat gls (V6) and shifted into reverse to back out of my driveway. As soon as I took my foot off the brake, the car lurched backward even though I was not depressing the accelerator pedal. I quickly shifted into neutral, engaged the parking brake and turned off the ignition. When I tried to restart the car, it would not start and did not start until about an hour later. My first thought was that the accelerator could have become lodged under the floormat, but that was not the case; nor was it the case in at least four other similar incidents. Two of these incidents took place as I was driving at a low speed in a residential area. Fortunately, there were no pedestrians or other cars around me and I had the presence of mind to recognize the issue, shift into neutral and park the car. However, I fear what could happen if this incident recurred when I was at an intersection, railroad crossing or crosswalk. Despite repeated attempts, my mechanic has been unable to replicate the incident or identify the cause.

- Germantown, TN, USA

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problem #5

Feb 072013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
I was driving on the highway around 47-50 mph all of a sudden I heard a strong hit, as if someone hit me from the rear... then my dashboard started flashing and all the transmission gears got locked up, I was able to stop the car and turn it off, funny thing is this happens during summer only when it's hot outside otherwise, I don't see it... this can be dangerous.

- Stamford, CT, USA

problem #4

Feb 282011


  • 163,012 miles


Due to a design flaw with all Passats 1998 and up they are prone to having major failure of tcm transmission control module as in cases of heavy rain water will leak into passenger floor area and fill the tcm with water hence locking transmission into park and no longer allowing vehicle to be shifted...

- Flanders, NJ, USA

problem #3

Nov 252008


  • miles
Every time it rains, I have an accumulation of water under both the front and rear passenger side carpets. The car smells of mold and mildew. This is a recurring problem with many years of VW's and the dealers know about it. My research indicates design problems with pollen filter. Major problem is that the transmission control module is located in the same vicinity as the puddled water. I have had transmission problems for a while although have not had to replace tcm yet. Check the web for how many people complain about this problem. I understand there is a recall for the 2002 model year. 2003 is no different. First noticed problem after warranty ran out.

- Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #2

Oct 012008


  • 70,000 miles
I own a 2003 Volkswagen Passat with a 1.8T engine. The car has 70,000 miles and I just found out it has engine sludge. I bought the car used around May 2004 with around 34,000 miles and never received any information from the dealer I bought the car from (not VW dealer) about sludge problems and never received any information from VW of America about altered oil change schedule and using fully synthetic motor oil. Being unaware of the problems these engines were having I followed the owners manual recommended oil changes of 5,000. I was not aware of saving receipts of changes and performed several myself. My display showed a stop engine low oil press message so I immediately took it to my independent mechanic who performed some tests and told me I had engine sludge. As of now I have no recourse with VW of America as far as fixing an engine they know is flawed.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #1

Mar 052005

Passat 4-cyl

  • 32,251 miles
2003 Volkswagen gls Passat with several problems. Consumer states that they have had problems with the fuel pump, cam shaft sensor and more. The vehicle stalled on 2 occasions due to a faulty fuel pump. The consumer soon discovered there was a recall on the fuel pump, however the consumers vehicle identification number was not included in the recall. The front cv boot and timing belt were replaced. The vehicle also had a transmission leak. The drivers heated seat malfunctioned.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

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