really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 6
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
122,888 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 engine problems

engine problem

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

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

2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #17

Jul 012015


  • 130,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning while driving at various speeds. The failure was experienced numerous times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who performed diagnostic testing. The engine oxygen sensor, coil spring, sparks plugs, and wires were replaced; however, the failure was not corrected. The contact stated that the tail lights also failed. The tail lights were not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was 130,000.

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #16

Oct 052015


  • 93,000 miles
Driving, less than 45. Intermittent stop engine low oil pressure light. No other indications. Oil level is at specifications. Suspect long known problem of sludge in the oil pickup tube.. vehicle has not been repaired

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #15

Jul 082015


  • 120,000 miles
My floorboards are soaked with coolant had noticed I had leak but had no idea that it was leaking into inside cabinet, heater core went out and every time I added fluid it would be gone wasnt sure where itwas going I could smell antifreeze smell for sometime but thought if it were overheating dash would give some warning!..again now that I know it was unhealthy to be breathing the toxic smell.my daughter still putting up with smell hard to get rid of it even after shampooing {sorry after shopvac sucked atleast 2gallons of coolant from my floor boards...this really makes me angry that I didnt know I was forced to breath in these toxic fumes for several months and continues,

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #14

Feb 132013


  • 83,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that while driving approximately 5 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic, where it was diagnosed that the engine exhibited sludge. The vehicle was repaired but the failure persisted. The mechanic recommended that the engine be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 83,000.

- West Islip, NY, USA

problem #13

Jul 152015


  • 111,352 miles
I was driving the car to work 2 miles from my houses oil warning come on return to my house to get a second car park the car and left 5 minute later get a phone call my car is on fire thanks god I went back home call VW they said no recalls but national safety investigation I lost my car because don't have full cover insurance

- Millersburg , OH, USA

problem #12

May 012015


  • 162,000 miles
Misfire on 2 cylinders due to faulty ignition coil packs

- Birdsboro, PA, USA

problem #11

Apr 092015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 135,800 miles


I have had my 2003 VW Passat a year now I have just noticed in the past week that it had a leak I thought it was from the window or sun roof I went to vacuum the car out on a nice day and seen that it still had very wet carpet and then noticed the carpet was a green color like it was coolant I then had my bf check it and it is. I run a daycare and use this car daily with my children we have been breathing in this coolant for weeks now and that probably explains my daughter saying she gets headaches when we drive the car. I have done some research and see it is a very common and recalled thing with the heater core and I had no idea I hope us breathing this in hasn't done any damage I have a one year old who has been in it this whole time as well.im very unpleased with this car.

- Eugene , OR, USA

problem #10

Mar 032015

Passat 8-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The car ran out of gas so I went to the gas station to purchase gas to put into the car. I put the gas into the car. Tried to start the car but would not start. I let it sit for a few minutes then I tried to start the car again. This time the car started but I heard a loud bang. Flames started shooting out of the hood. Before I knew it the whole front of the car was engulfed in flames. I called the fire department to extinguish the car.

- Boyceville, WI, USA

problem #9

Jan 262015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 188,000 miles
Vehicle oil pressure light alerted driver of low oil pressure. Driver brought vehicle to R&J auto on 1309-1365 barnum avenue in bridgeport, ct; driver purchased car from this business less than a year ago; driver was told that nothing was wrong with the car. A week later the same issue arose while on the highway. Driver was not speeding due to getting off of the ramp. Car began making a ticking noise. Driver brought car back to R&J a week later the car was deemed unfit to drive due to sludge, the oil pump being damaged and the engine malfunctioning. Dealer/mechanic informed me that the car was dangerous to drive and would not be worth fixing. I was forced to junk the car and leave the car with the business. I am afraid they will resell the car without completing the proper maintenance and repair to another innocent customer. This car is not fit to drive.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #8

Jan 122015


  • 140,000 miles
Two ignition coils failed which caused lack of spark to the plugs in the engine. Subsequent loss of engine power and unburned fuel entered the catalytic converter. A heat-related fire nearly ensued. Had to repair coils and plugs. Nearly caused failure of catalytic converter and oxygen sensors.

- Kernersville, NC, USA

problem #7

Oct 012013


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that a burning odor was coming from the engine. The contact also indicated that a fluid leak was coming from under the front of the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #6

Mar 282014

Passat 4-cyl

  • 127,000 miles
Since after the day one of the purchase my car started shaking, vibrating. I had to have coils replaced. The car started running for 2 weeks then when I was in the traffic it started shaking then stalled. I was able to pull over in the parking lot. I had wiring harness and coils replaced again this time. The car had startup issues and then mechanic replaced camshaft sensor. After 3 weeks same problem!!!! I was on the side of the road had to be towed. Changed spark plugs and coils but after 2 months oh my goodness same problem now they think ECU is fried coils are bad maybe fuel pump no one is able to figure out and I cant spend any more thousands of dollars on a car im still financing. Very disappointed! I don't feel safe at all on the road and im scared to cause an accident because of the stalls on the road. Please help! feel very unsafe!

- Saint Cloud, FL, USA

problem #5

Apr 292013

Passat 4-cyl

  • 92,689 miles
Hot steam(coolant) came out of vents causing poor visibility and my daughter almost got into an accident due to the steam fogged the windshield.

- East Rockaway, NY, USA

problem #4

Mar 312013


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph, the engine pressure warning indicator illuminated continuously. The failure recurred twelve times within the same day. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the engine would need to be replaced due to excessive oil sludge. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 115,000.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #3

Dec 052012

Passat 6-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
While driving the on the capitol beltway (495 inner loop) I started to smell a burning smell. Moments later within about 30 seconds the engine burst into flames. I was able to stop the vehicle safely and exited the car. Needless to say the vehicle is totaled. I would describe the incident as a spontaneous engine fire. There was no warning. Thank you.

- District Heights, MD, USA

problem #2

Mar 182012


  • 174,256 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. While driving approximately 20 mph, the contact noticed smoke coming from under the hood and pouring inside the vehicle. The contact found water and coolant leaking from the dashboard and onto the driver's side of the vehicle. The vehicle was also overheating. After exiting the vehicle, the contact noticed flames coming from under the hood. The contact was able to extinguish the fire however, the contact sustained burns to her legs due to the hot leaking coolant. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the engine blew and the instrument panel cluster was damaged. The contact was unaware of what caused the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 174,256.

- Canoga Park, CA, USA

problem #1

Jul 232012

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
I was driving 45miles on the road when my 2003 VW Passat 1.8T started to shake like crazy. Then the engine started to feel like it was going out..smoke came from my hood. My car stopped and the driver behind me swerved out the way but clipped me on the right side of my vehicle. No damage to the car or my own.

- Fresno, CA, USA

Not what you are looking for?