definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,415 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #8

Jan 262008

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles


My 2003 VW Passat has shown cases of transmission problems following a recent rain storm. The rear passenger footwell collected water and the car would not shift normally. The car would not upshift and slammed into gear from park. I'm now unable to get the car out of neutral and can't remove the key.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #7

Nov 172006

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
I've spent over $8000 towards VW dealership attempts at fixing the horn, radio, homelink, climate control (A/C and heat) rear passenger side window, heated seats, dashboard panel lights, and defroster flap. VW replaced ABS and brake light module, but only fixed the horn. VW stated they are not responsible even after I paid for them to fix the above problems and they are still unable to determine the cause of the problems. I request reimbursement from Volkswagen for the repair attempts and related expenses. Current vehicle mileage: 127,000.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 272007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 VW Passat with a sudden downshift in the transmission. Customer states the problem occurred through a leak in the sunroof. Dealer also stated he would have to pay for the repairs, because it wouldn't be covered under warranty. The dealer stated that a clogged sunroof drain had caused water to overflow down the passenger front windshield. A pillar causing corrosion in the transmission control module harness which was located at the passenger side footwell. The dealer stated the leak was considered an outside influence and that's why it wasn't covered under warranty. The consumer approved the repairs, however as he was pulling out of the dealers lot, the same problem happened. The consumer called the consumer and informed him, this time the problem was a faulty transmission control module and that the repair was covered under warranty. The consumer believed the problem may have been with the tcm the entire time.

- New Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #5

Apr 052007

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles


While backing up out of the driveway the car lurched into reverse and then would not shift out of 1st gear causing drastically slow speeds while driving the car. Any speed above 15 mph would redline the tac and the engine. The VW dealership determined it was a bad computer control module that needed to be replaced.

- North Smithfield, RI, USA

problem #4

Jan 012006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,458 miles
I am investigating and gathering incident information about the flooding problems that Volkswagen, especially the Passat, exhibit from model years 1998 to the present. There is a chance of a class action suit for which this information is being gathered. If interested, please respond to doctor.vinnie@gmail.com for more information.

- Ozone Park, NY, USA

problem #3

Jul 062006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,400 miles
1. heavy rain storms 2. water entered the car via either the pollen filter or backed up from the battery well. This water caused the transmission control module (tcm) to fail. 3. I paid for the pollen filter to be replaced, the tcm to be replaced, the cowl drain holes to be cleared, and the water to be removed.

- Chevy Chase, MD, USA

problem #2

Dec 052005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,500 miles
Car had trouble starting, electrical problems, lurching while driving and ultimately transmission and air bag failure.

- Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

problem #1

Mar 082006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,960 miles
This is a 2003 VW Passat with 27,000 miles. It is kept outside in northern California. There have been rains here recently, expected this time of year. The rear footwell was found to have water in it recently. Neither the sunroof nor windows had been left open. Although the vehicle has been maintained by VW dealers according to schedule, the bottom of the sunroof drain tube was clogged, backing water up. The resulting damage included carpet, dampened transmission control unit, wiring harness and a safety relay amounting to over $3,000 to repair. The dealer is replacing the damaged parts and unclogging the drain tube. There is no guarantee that this will fix the problem permanently. The transmission control module had an internal short

- San Francisco, CA, USA

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