really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
79,381 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.

2004 Volkswagen Passat accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #11

Nov 072016


  • 170,000 miles


My car was part of a recall because the drivers side seat heater was overheating and melting through the seat. I took my car in for the recall and this issue should have been resolved. But yesterday I had that exact issue - within 4 to 5 minutes of turning on my drivers side seat heater it burned/melted through the seat and burned me.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 042013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
Heated seats on driver side stopped working only to find seat had smoldered a fire beneath me! was there a recall on these seats!?

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #9

Dec 022013

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
The seat warmer on the driver's side started a fire that burnt through the seat and onto my leg. I had to pull over on the highway and turn off the car for it to stop burning.

- Oak Park, IL, USA

problem #8

Feb 272013

Passat 6-cyl

  • 101,938 miles


While driving my vehicle, the driver's seat caught fire causing a hole to be burnt through the leather seats caused scorching to pants and a minor burn to the buttocks. A moderate amount of smoke was seen coming from the burning seat and filled the interior of the car. I immediately turned off the seat warmer, pulled the vehicle over, and turned off the engine. The seat continued to smoke profusely; I smothered the fire and contacted my local VW dealership immediately. The local dealership advised me to contact VW of America; the entire process has been a complete hassle and I am now without a vehicle while VW of America "investigates" the issue. My two young children and I were in the vehicle at the time; they became extremely upset and scared. Fortunately, this incident happened prior to my getting on the freeway (I commute 45 minutes each way for school). Had my seat caught fire while driving at highway speeds in heavy traffic I don't know that I would be alive to write this complaint. Words cannot describe the surprise and panic I felt when the seat began to burn me; to call this a safety hazard would be a gross understatement. This malfunction/defect is one that has the potential to cause great bodily harm and/or death should it happen under the above stated circumstances (highway driving, highway speeds, and heavy traffic). It is my opinion that a recall should be made to protect additional consumers from this hazard. I am extremely upset with VW and the seemingly casual attitude regarding this issue; as a consumer I feel VW has a duty to ensure the safety of their consumers-a seat that can catch fire at any time is a breach of that duty. I feel that some warning, at the very least, should have been issued to the consumer pertaining to this issue.

- Roseville, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 082012

Passat 4-cyl

  • 85,400 miles
I had been driving my car for fewer than 15 minutes with the seat heating element on. I noticed an acute burning heat near my upper left leg, and shortly thereafter noticed a hot/burning/melting smell. I immediately turned off the driver's side seat and pulled into a parking spot. After being turned off for 10 minutes, the burning smell was still hanging in the car and my seat was still extremely hot to the touch. The gray leather near the outer left edge of the seating surface is emblazoned with a singed, brownish burn mark, and a hole was burned completely through the leather. I have not turned on the seat heating element since this incident, but am quite concerned about the failure and fire hazard.

- Collinsville, IL, USA

problem #6

Dec 272010


  • miles
Heated seat coils overheated and burnt seat on driver side.

- Fairfax Station, VA, USA

problem #5

Feb 252010


  • 94,000 miles


2004 VW Passat gl 1.8T with 94,000 miles. Drivers side seat heater has burned through seat and into my leg while driving with seat heat in use on setting #3. there is now a hole in drivers seat where burn occurred.

- New London, CT, USA

problem #4

Jan 302010


  • 81,000 miles
1)my heated seats got so hot they burned a hole in my seat and burned my leg. I'm not sure how that happened without me noticing, but it did. The burn was not severe but it did hurt for a day or two. 2. the seats continue to get that hot when turned on.... I no longer use the heated seat function. 3. nothing has been done yet, I will have to buy a new seat cushion, new cloth for the seat and have someone fix the heated seat.

- Brockport, NY, USA

problem #3

Feb 112010


  • 64,000 miles
I was driving my car, a 2004 VW Passat gls, to work in the morning and had the driver's side seat heater on. About 2 miles into my drive I could smell that something was burning. At first I thought it was something burning outside, so I rolled the windows down to see if the outside air smelled of smoke. The outside air did not smell of smoke, so I quickly started thinking of what else could be burning. I also had the cabin air heat on, so I decided to turn that off and also turned my seat heater off, which is when I noticed smoke coming up from the driver's seat. I identified the location as the left part of the seat bottom and saw the burning area, which was clearly being cause by a heating component of the seat heater. I was trying to put out the smoldering and smoke with my hands. I could tell that my leather seats were still smoldering/burning so I put water on my hands from a water bottle that I had nearby to cool the leather and prevent further spread of the smoldering. Note that this was all within approximately 10 seconds, and I was driving. This is a huge hazard for which VW should be held responsible.

- Corona Del Mar, CA, USA

problem #2

Nov 062008


  • 82,000 miles
I own a Volkswagen Passat 2004 model. On November the 11th 2008 after working the night shift at mbusi in vance, Alabama, I got in my car to go home. I turned on the heated seat just as I have done for the past 4 years only this time I got more heat than I wanted. My heated seat caught fire and burned my leg. In attempt to extinguish the fire, I wrenched my back by stomping out the fire with my foot. I did not have anything close to me to use with my hands so they would not get burned. I could not believe how fast my car filled with worst smelling smoke I have ever smelt. The seat was on fire before I even left the parking lot. If I would have waited two minutes to turn on my seat, I would have been on interstate 20/59 driving at 70 mph and I can only imagine what would have happened. This is one of the worst experiences of my life. Volkswagen has offered to replace the cover on the car, replace my pants and pay my medical bills, but what about the seat I will continue to sit on, and my confidence that this will not happen again. I am horrified to think about the potential for recurrence and I cannot overcome my ordeal I am devastated and have lost my confidence in the processes that are supposed to protect the consumer.

- Lakeview, AL, USA

problem #1

Jul 182008


  • 71,850 miles
Started car up for morning commute and turned on the driver side seat warmer to 5. 5 minutes into the commute a smoke smell filled the cabin. When I arrived at my destination I found that the seat heater had burned a dime size hole through my cloth seat. I am the original owner of the vehicle and have not had an issue since taking possession on 2/14/04. When I mentioned this to the dealer they sounded a bit surprised and stated that they would have to investigate if this would be covered under warranty or not.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

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