definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,419 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Dec 142016


  • 144,604 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated the vehicle was previously included in a recall that called for the ignition coil to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the check engine warning indicator illuminated. While driving various speeds, the vehicle suddenly stalled without warning. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the ignition coil needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. Due to the fact the vehicle was previously repaired per the recall, the manufacturer was not able to assist. The NHTSA campaign number was unknown. The approximate failure mileage was 144,604.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #23

Jun 142008

Passat 4-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. While driving 40 mph the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, and a technician replaced the ignition coil at an expense of $403. The failure resurfaced one year after the vehicle was repaired. An authorized technician concluded that the ignition coil failed and caused the wiring harness, and the engines computer to burn. The vehicle was repaired at an expense of $887.97. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 83,000 and the current mileage was 92,000. Updated 10/21/09. Updated 12/07/09. The consumer stated in addition to the other problem, the failed stalled on the highway and the the lights on the dashboard illuminated. Updated 12/08/09

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #22

Mar 042008

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 98,000 miles
I finished putting in a small amount of gas and while taking off had an engine problem. My check engine light started to blink, my car started to chug and I had a severe loss of power. I took my car to my local VW service center, and upon investigation they smelled a burning under my hood and found the ignition coil melted or something of the sorts. They replaced the ignition coil and the car works fine, for now until the coil melts again.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #21

Feb 062008


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Driving home from work one afternoon, I noticed my engine seemed to be shaking slightly. I pulled over and even in park, I could feel the momentum of something in the engine causing my car to shake. By the time I got home, my engine light had turned on. I brought it to a VW dealer and upon inspection they found that my ignition coils needed replacing. Upon searching online, I found several press releases about issues with the VW ignition coils, and pending defect investigations relating to the coils and fires resulting. I am thankful that I did not find myself in this situation but I am sure that if I had not been paying attention this problem could have had a far worse outcome. I am now deeply concerned about my safety in this vehicle.

- St Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #20

Oct 102007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,344 miles
Engine ignition coils fail, causing a hesitation in engine, which is dangerous and may lead to an accident in traffic. The coils do not fail all at once, and VW will only replace if they fail. One of the coils failed and the car caught on fire due to coil dropping onto the catalytic converter. VW refuses to replace any further ignition coils.

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #19

Apr 032007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,718 miles
Dashboard service light began flashing, car bucked and ran on reduced power only. Towed the unit to patrick motors VW in auburn MA. Dx was ignition coils and plugs needed. Cost me $365 to repair. I argued that the payment was on them based on the Feb. 2003 VW service campaign which dictated that my model was involved in defective coil installation at the factory. I even called the VW toll-free customer care and was told that my car's VIN failed to match the defective group. Obviously I cannot understand why it would be excluded from the defective group when the coil components have to be replaced at 62000 miles. I would expect such a repair at 100,000 miles. This unit is a 1.8T 2003 VW Passat.

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #18

Feb 122007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles


This car was purchased new in Feb 2003. Two ignition coils replaced. I await the bill for the remaining 2 coils that will likely go bad. The dealership advised me that this had been recalled on the 2001-2002 models. I am perplexed by this information being I see no recalls on ignition coils, but I do see a host of complaints.

- Pipersville, PA, USA

problem #17

Jul 272006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving 55 mph the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was maneuvered off the road, restarted, and was driven to the dealer where the ignition coil was replaced.

- Holtsville, NY, USA

problem #16

Aug 102006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving at 65 mph, the malfunction light illuminated, then the engine power failed, requiring the vehicle to coast to a stop. The vehicle was towed to a service dealer, where the malfunction was identified as 2 faulty ignition coils. The manufacturer was notified. Updated 11/21/2006 - the ignition coils have failed three times in four years.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #15

Jan 122006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
Bought a 2003 VW Passat 1.8T in May 2005. Since then, I have taken the car to the dealership for repair 4 times now. The car will all of the sudden start running very rough and the check engine light came on. The first time, they replaced a "defective" spark plug. Within a few days of getting it back, it happened again. They decided to replace all the spark plugs that time. It happened a third time and they did not tell me what they had done to the car, but kept the car for a week. It is currently in the shop again (now for a week again) because it began to run rough, developed a slow oil leak, and does not always start on the first attempt. I have not yet heard from the dealership what is causing the problems. I asked them to check everything on the car. I have also lodged a complaint with VW of America.

- Gates, NC, USA

problem #14

Jun 012005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


Have had nothing but problems with this lemon. * 500 miles cruise control fails, has to be replaced. * 16,000 miles ignition coil fails, replaced coil and mass air flow sensor. * 28,000 miles fan in dash diagnosed as faulty and needing to be replaced. Parts ordered, never installed. * 40,000 miles oil pump and oil hoses are replaced due to oil pressure failures. Car broke down on road. * 44,159 miles oil pressure switch replaced due to oil pressure failures. * 46,000 miles fuel pump failure, replaced under warranty. Car broke down on road. Volkswagen has a problem with these cars and "oil sludge". VW refuses to fix my car under warranty. Last word was "we reserve the right to refuse any warrany claim, regardless of documentation of oil changes." I've talked to several dealerships and it's a #1 problem with these cars comming in for ruined engines and oil sludge. VW is refusing to pay for fixing the problems in most cases. I've got all documentation, original paperwork when purchased, etc.

- Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

problem #13

May 192005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
1. vehicle began to sputter, emissions light began to flash, then loss of engine power. 2. failure of ignition coils (3) 3. 3 coils being replaced at VW dealership

- Worcester, MA, USA

problem #12

Nov 122004

Passat 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,494 miles
8/01/03 - car inspected and told had proper J ignition coils installed 8/18/03 - car again inspected and told had proper J ignition coils installed 11/18/03 - coil ignition recall was performed on the car for a 3rd time. After all three attempts of checking the ignition coils they yet failed again. This is the 12 coil I have had replaced on a Volkswagen in 2 years.

- North Smithfield, RI, USA

problem #11

Feb 232004

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,500 miles
2003 Volkswagen Passat W6 2.8L car will not start or fails to run properly due to ignition misfire or excessive fuel flooding engine. Volkswagen will not repair. Car has been seviced with the best synthetic lubricants and has had extremely good care. The dealership told us the reason the car would not run was because the oil needed changing due to it being loaded with gasoline. The oil had been checked 3 days prior to the incidents and was at satisfactory levels and clean. The car had 6700 miles on the synthetic oil change and was not due for a 3rd oil change. The car has 11813 miles on it. The recommended oil change interval by the dealer was 10000 miles on the synthetic oil. If the car is failing to run and has allows severe gasoline contamination of the oil there are major problems. There seems to be many complaints regarding the reliability of these cars available through other web sites. The engine failing to maintain operation or misfiring while on the highway or if it fails to operate in an unsafe environment proves this vehicle to be a failure in engineering, and reliability.

- Ashaway, RI, USA

problem #10

Oct 072001

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,417 miles
Failure to correct misfire and stalling problem after 3 visits to VW dealer. Engine continues to misfire and VW won't try to replace any obvious parts related to the cause. Told to return the car for repair for the 4th time when problem occurs again. Car has been to 2 VW dealers in 2 weeks and problem continues.

- Cortland, NY, USA

problem #9

Sep 252003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,212 miles
Engine starts to stall and misfires in traffic. Dealer refused to change recalled coils on 8-15-03. Contacted VW help line and they indicated that their records show that dealer replaced the recalled coils even though he didn't. it appears the dealer filed a false warranty service claim with VW according to the information they received. Dealer still refused to change coils on 9-25-03.

- Cortland, NY, USA

problem #8

Aug 152003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,212 miles
Failure to provide replacement coils after manufacturer' S recall

- Cortland, NY, USA

problem #7

Aug 092003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
Very expesive unreliable car with nothing but excuses from the dealer-manufacturer filled with lies, constant trouble with car and Volkswagen cannot fix properly plus refuses to replace a defective car twice over! they told me when I purchased this car that all the 2003 had fixed coil problems. They failed around 7000 miles. Also have replace the dash, reprogrammed computer, ruined a pillar upholstery, put in wrong oil, replace D a sprk plug thinking that would fix the missfire, still runs bad. Every time I have to go to the dealer its a 260 mile round trip! I got out of a 99 Passat that theysold me (unkowingly)wrecked and then coldnt fix so I traded up to this 2003 with lots of trouble. Nightmare VW for sure.

- Cashmere, WA, USA

problem #6

Jan 062003


  • 6,050 miles
This vehicle contains 4 ignition coils, one of which failed. This part which is installed on many 2002 and 2003 VW's is prone to sudden failure and VW owners have been experiencing multiple and common failures of their ignition coils. VW has redesigned the part but is only replacing failed parts at this time. When this part fails it causes the engine to stall or misfire badly and makes the car undriveable. This is certainly a safety issue if the problem occurs on a highway, causing the car to stall, or stranding a motorist in a dangerous location. I believe that VW should replace all the defective ignition coils with the redesigned replacement part. Thanks. Scc ***dimsii IVOQ entry posted after 12/12/02 cut-over to artemis****770857****

- Branford, CT, USA

problem #5

Jan 032003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 2,000 miles
Faulty ingintion coils, two out of four have been replace on 2003 VW Passat 1.8L T the reamining two are bound to fail, but VW will not cover the cost of replacing them. This is very concerning, given the fact that this car was bought in Dec 2002 and only has 2000 miles, and when the problem occurs the car loses power and must be towed to a dealership. Note losing power on the highway, in the middle of the coldest winter in new england is not a pleasent thought!!

- Stoneham, MA, USA

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