hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,584 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

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #18

Apr 302006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


: the contact stated while driving 65mph, the check engine light illuminated and the engine hesitated. The vehicle was towed to the dealership. Upon inspection, the dealer determined there was sludge build up in the oil pump. The oil pump, pipes, resonator, oil and surrounding components were replaced.

- Danville, VA, USA

problem #17

May 012003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased a new 2003 Volkswagen Passat from smith Volkswagen of wilmington, de. From the beginning the car would intermittently experience total engine shutdown at mid-RPM while under full acceleration. This made any kind of merging into traffic maneuver a hazardous undertaking. The car was returned to the dealer several times for repair but with no success. This caused us for the entire time we owned the vehicle to completely modify the way we drove - never knowing when the engine would die out. Now after struggling with this for 3 years I receive recall notice "safety recall M7", one month after we traded in the Volkswagen on another car. This notice describes our problem but underplays the havoc the problem can actually cause when it occurs to your car. These vehicles are a danger to their drivers and to all the cars around them on the road. They should be removed from the highway until they are fixed now that Volkswagen has finally admitted something is wrong 3 years later.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #16

Aug 052005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles
: the contact stated the engine on the vehicle failed. The dealership determined the engine needed to be replaced due to an oil sludge problem. Two months later the check engine light continued to illuminate. The dealership determined the engine needed to broken down to see if the problem was related to the oil sludge problem. The engine failed in August 2005 with one year/12000 mile warranty. A month after replacement the check engine light came on. The dealership failed to correctly diagnose the problem and the engine was checked in March 2006. It was determined that the engine needed to be broken down in order to determine the problem and since the mileage exceeded the warranty it would not be covered. The contact contact the dealer, who indicated the same thing and referred the contact back to the dealer. The contact was tossed back and forth with no one taking responsibility or action. After searching on the internet the contact discovered that this was a common problem with Volkswagen Passat vehicles, and that Volkswagen was ranked among the worse car companies for resolving customer complaints. Therefore, the contact sought NHTSA assistance.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #15

Aug 082005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,492 miles


Purchased vehicle on 8/4/03 8/8/05 - engine oil light came on, vehicle diagnosed w/ "engine oil sludge" by dealership, warranty item. 8/11/05- spoke w/ dealership to confirm sludge issue and presented oil change receipts, (vehicle purchased w/ 19637 miles), dealer declined to honor the warranty and recommended a engine flush & oil change 8/12/05 - retrieved vehicle and had engine flushed & oil changed 8/13/05 - vehicle cut off & remains inoperable 8/21/05 - vehicle was towed to receive diagnoses 8/26/05 - vehicle diagnosed w/ no oil pressure or compression. Cause - (bad oil pump) timing belt jumped R&R valve cover and locked up cam #1 cylinder. No sludge was found in engine, valve cover, oil pan or engine block. Engine was free of sludge and would not have caused the engine to fail (documented by auto repairman) 8/26/05 - towed vehicle to another (engine repair specialist) repair shop. 9/22/05 - diagnoses result "no" engine oil sludge found. (engine was totally disassembled and examined in every detail) sludge would be expected if poor maintenance was the issue. A simple oil flush would not have removed engine oil sludge (documented by service center) 9/23/05 - contacted VW customer care to report my findings. No resolution obtained to date. I was told to obtain another engine analysis. 9/26/05 - contacted VW again to inform them that another analysis is impossible because the engine is disassembled. 10/7/05 - towed the vehicle back to my home. Vehicle presently garaged and inoperable. * since then, I've read many accounts of this "same" issue happening to VW Passat owners. VW has admitted to engine problems with their 4 cylinder turbo engines but has not issued a recall. This is a serious product stewardship issue and VW should be made to repair and reimburse consumers for these costly repairs. I've spent thousands of dollars in my attempt to uncover the "real" problem which is a faulty engine and/or oil pump.

- Pickerington, OH, USA

problem #14

Dec 222005

Passat 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
2003 VW Passat suddenly began making engine noise and oil pressure warning came on. VW determined problem was sludge, and they cleaned the engine leaving a bill of $1900 plus that they are refusing to cover with manufacturers warranty unless I can produce oil chg receipts. I have done 2 of them myself and only have bank statements with credit card charges. The others, I have receipts for. They are still refusing to cover. This is a major widespread problem and their recommendations to change from regular oil to synthetic oil came in 2004, a year after I was following their previous instructions, etc. For a known issue, they should not be allowed to hold consumers hostage on a situation like this. I do my own oil chgs to save money. My 10K oil chg at VW was $110. I can do it for less then half of that amount.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #13

Dec 172005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,600 miles
The contact stated while driving the vehicle the stop engine now- low oil pressure light illuminated. She pulled the vehicle off the road for inspection. She checked the dip stick for an oil reading. The reading indicated the vehicle contained no oil in the engine. She added oil to the engine before driving the vehicle to the dealership. The dealer diagnosed the vehicle as having sludge build up in the engine. The engine will have to be replaced in order to fix the problem. No however, repairs have been made.

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #12

Aug 162005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles


The consumer stated that on the 2003 Volkswagen Passat the engine light came on. The consumer took the car to the dealer, and dealer wanted the receipts from the oil changes. The dealer said that there was sludge in the engine. The dealer said that was the consumers problem, and it was the consumer that could not produce the receipts, the consumer had to pay for it. The owner did not fixed the problem. The dealer said that the warranty would be void if they did not have the receipts showing that the oil was changed every 5,000 miles.

- Hinsdale, IL, USA

problem #11

Apr 152005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
I have a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. In the two years I have owned this car I have had it towed to the dealership 5-6 times due to transmission problems. When putting the car in park it kept moving forward. I had to put on the emergency brake to stop the car. Luckily, I was in a parking lot, and was going very slow. Again, I had a problem with my car not too long after. My car display read stop engine, and the car was overheating. Vehicle was towed to the dealership and water pump had to be replaced. Another problem involved the brake lights staying on, draining the battery, twice had to have a vehicle towed to the dealership. Yesterday, oil light came on, and the display again read stop engine. I had the car towed again. Dealership said that unless I have a complete record of my oil change receipts they will not cover it. I have read literally hundreds of complaints with the same problem. What is going on!!! I am fighting with the dealership, and Volkswagen corporation to have this problem resolved under warranty. This should be a recall item! help!!!

- Hicksville, NY, USA

problem #10

Apr 142003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,495 miles
On April 14, 2005 I was going to work when a warning light came on that said stop. I called commonwealth motors and was told by larry riggins to check the oil level to see if needed to add oil, so I did. That did not resolve problem. I called back the dealer, who gave me the tow number for Volkswagen, and said that he would set up an appointment that day. After waiting for two hours we were towed in only to find that they would not even look at car till next day. Next day, larry called and said that they needed to pull engine and look at oil pan which could add up to a lot of money. When questioned due to the car's warranty, larry informed me that only if I had all of the maintenance records, including oil changes, Volkswagen would not honor the 5 year power train warranty, under 50,000 miles. Car has been there for 3 days with no resolution. After researching I found a site called vwlemon.com and discovered that known to Volkswagen, but unbeknownst to me, Volkswagen Passats with 1.8 turbo engine had a design flaw that caused engine to become clogged with sludge which could completely seize the engine. I was fortunately not on the freeway when this occurred so that I could safely pull over. Certainly it was a safety issue and a manufactured design flaw that Volkswagen of America will not pay for.

- Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 272005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,140 miles
2003 VW Passat 1.8T wagon has failed due to sludge. I do not have all of the service records for the car and warranty coverage is denied to the tune of $10,217. I've done some research on this problem, and feel that the defect is with the engine, not with my treatment of the vehicle. The car was running fine with no noise when the "oil pressure! stop!" light came on, and ran fine when I drove it to the dealership, only now they tell me the engine is 'locked up' and wil have to be replaced along with the oil pump, the turbo unit, etc etc. Since the car was on the interstate when the light popped on, and presumably could have 'locked up' at 70 mph, this is, indeed, a safety issue.

- Tega Cay, SC, USA

problem #8

Dec 202004

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


The oil light came on. Consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, who wanted $11,000 to replace an engine for oil sludge. Consumer stated that VW has clearly admitted to the sludge problem. Article attach from Volkswagen to work with dealers to improve guidelines for sludge repairs.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #7

Jan 232005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
I own a 2003 Passat gls with about 40,000 miles on it. A few days ago, the oil pressure light came on advising that I stop driving the car. As I was just pulling into parking lot of my work, I parked the car and had it towed. The first thing the mechanic from VW told me was my warranty would not be honored without proof of all my service records from VW. I do have the oil changed regularly but not always at 4,999 miles. I have moved and have had the oil changed at different places and have had trouble getting all my records. After several conversations in which I was T old mulitple things about what caused the light to come on, I received a call saying that my engine was scorched and needed to be replaced at the cost of $11,000. I could not produce all oil changes done to the car in the almost two years I woned it and VW would not honor my warranty even though I paid for extended coverage. The mechanic at VW said it is rare that anyone can produce all records and this is a common problem due to lack of precise maintenance. I have not had an new engine put in the car as the car isn't even worth the cost of the engine. I am looking into the possibility of rebulit engine.

- Marlton, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jan 012005

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles
I am currently having an issue with a 2003 VW Passat. After 27,000 miles, the engine and possible the turbo has gone, and the dealer is saying that the repairs will cost 9,000 dollars. Volks wagen has had an oil sludge problem with this year of Passats that typically results in this problem, even after suggested maintenance. Volkswagen issued a notice to their customers of this problem about 3 months ago, and also recommended that their drivers change the oil to a synthetic oil. I have been changing my oil at the recommended 5,000 mile increments, although using a non-synthetic brand of oil. I am now having a very hard time coming up with my oil change receipts. I can prove that I changed the oil 3 times although I need to prove I changed it 5 times for the warranty to kick in. Even after changing the oil at the required increments my engine is gone due to a known problem that VW is not taking responsibility for. I am extremely frustrated and angry at the service that I am currently receiving and would like to take action on this matter ? as I am currently sitting with a 9,000 bill for a problem that VW has admitted to, although will not take responsibility for.

- Royal Oak, MI, USA

problem #5

Oct 262004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
Consumer stated vehicle had a sludge build up which was causing the vehicle to stall. Consumer contacted the manufacturer, and said that the manufacturer was aware of the problem. However, blamed consumer for this defect.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #4

Jun 042003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
In follow up to reading an article about "oil sludge" problems in VW's. I have recently had my engine replaced on a 2003 VW 1.8 liter turbocharged Passat. The engine seized due to oil sludge problems. The engine was replaced approximately 2 months ago. The vehicle had 36,000 miles and was properly maintained.

- Mansfield, MA, USA

problem #3

Oct 292003

Passat 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 330 miles
Check engine light came on after only 300+ miles.

- Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #2

Oct 162003

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,972 miles
Engine continues to misfire, loses power and starts to stall while driving. Four attempts to correct the problem have failed. Problem presents a significant safety issue for driver and passengers.

- Cortland, NY, USA

problem #1

Dec 172002

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Passat V6 engines upper end of the engine drains of oil allowing knocking for 1-2 seconds before the oil circulates. (metal on metal noise).

- Port Orchard, WA, USA

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