really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,980 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.

2012 Volkswagen Passat electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #26

Sep 132015


  • 75,000 miles


Heard a small snap in steering wheel while turning. The air bag light came on and the horn and steering wheel buttons quit working. This is definitely the clockspring under the steering wheel. There is complaints on the internet about this same issue including ntsb looking into the issue as a recall. If accident occurred right now the air bag would not work. Huge safety issue

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #25

Sep 102015


  • 55,000 miles
My vehicle just stopped working. When I tried to put it on. All it says is "error: Air bags" "error: Brakes"

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #24

Jul 012015

Passat 4-cyl

  • miles
All steering wheel functions have stopped working including the horn. The airbag icon shows an "error" message. The steering wheel makes a cracking sound when it turns. Identical problem as in the NHTSA investigation #PE15010. I am concerned that the airbag will not deploy in the event of an accident. Problem appears to be: Steering wheel clock spring/steering column control module (sccm). Dealer wants over $ 500 to replace it. The car has less than 58,000 miles and was purchased brand new in 2012. Updated 9/15/15 updated 09/17/15

- Hayden Lake, ID, USA

problem #23

Jul 062015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 72,000 miles


On 8 to 10 occasions over the last two years I have lost power, I.e. the engine was running, but acted as though it were in neutral with high RPM?S. sometimes it is intermittent and recovers power but on three occasions on a major interstate highways it has lost all power and I had to coast to the shoulder. Turning off the engine and it starts normally with full power. The dealer checked the engine codes and only found engine lost communication with transmission and said the VW did not have any notices on the problem. I have also reported this to VW and they say it has not been an issue. Quick google searches show something different with lots of VW tdi engines showing similar problems. Loss of power in 65 mph traffic is very dangerous and inexcusable. VW should be looking more closely at this problem.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #22

Jun 012015


  • 41,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. Upon starting the vehicle, it was shifted into reverse and the contact heard an abnormal popping noise. The air bag warning light illuminated and all of the electrical functions on the steering wheel ceased to work. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The failure mileage was 41,000.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #21

Jun 012015


  • 44,150 miles
I heard a weird noice in my steering column while backing out, like a scraping noise. I turned the wheel then the air bag light came on. All electrical on my steering wheel would not work after this, even the horn. After doing some research, I understand that there is a wiring harness that could have broke possibly deploying the air bag, it could also be a bad clockspring which VW dealers want hunderds of dollars to replace. After doing research online, this is not an isolated incident with VW vehicles. The horn not working and the air bag possibly deploying is very dangerous. I am a single mother trying to pay my car payment let alone go pay VW to replace a major safety defect in thier vehicles. The government should ask them to do it if VW feels they have no responsability to do it on thier own. I don't have the money to replace this. I also noticed that other vehicle manufactures have ordered a recall for these same issues on their vehicles.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #20

May 242015


  • 37,000 miles


Driving on May 24.2015 making a left turn, I heard a loud crack in my steering wheel. I lost all of the function of the steering wheel and an message showed air bag error, check engine, no control. I lost all function of my steering wheel, and every move made a cracking sound. I was afraid to drive anymore because the air bag may deploy. I have transported it to a VW dealer to check on it and find out what is wrong, still waiting for an answer. I know an investigation regarding this issue was filled PE15010 air bag clockspring failure defect. I was very affraid and am wondering why there is no recall as of today.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #19

Apr 142015


  • 17,931 miles
On April 14, 2015, I went to VW kennedy service center in puerto rico because of problems with my 2012 Passat driver's door lock and rear door's locks, that sometimes failed to open or lock, and have weird sounds when I open them with the power locks button or when the car reach 10 miles. On April 16, they made a diagnostic of a problem with the rear left door latch but they only make an adjustment to it. On April 21, I returned to the service center with the same problems. This time they replaced the rear left door latch, but told me that there is no problems with the driver's door lock. Since then, the problems with this door lock continues on a random basis, sometimes failed to open or close, but the VW service center told me that there is no problems. I think that a door lock that failed to close or open on a random basis represents a security problem.

- Trujillo Alto, PR, USA

problem #18

Apr 192015


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the steering wheel made a cracking noise and became difficult to turn as the air bag warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who inspected the vehicle and advised that the module failed. However, the contact was not sure of the name of the module that needed to replace. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Brentwood , NY, USA

problem #17

Feb 022015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that the horn failed to work and the clock spring failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who diagnosed that the clock spring needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA action number: PE15010 (air bags, electrical system). The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 48,283. Updated 7/9/15 updated 9/18/15

- Robbinsville, NJ, USA

problem #16

Mar 282015


  • 58,000 miles


Heard a clicking noise coming from the steering column while turning in a parking lot. When I started the car again the airbag light came on and none of the controls on the steering wheel including the horn would work. After investigating online I found several complaints about this issue and discovered that many other owners are experiencing a failure the clock spring in the steering column at about 50,000-60,000 miles 9 I had about 58000 at the time). After discovering that an investigation was started here just days before mine failed I contacted the dealer. I was told that they were not aware of the investigation or the issue.... however they were able to quickly tell me it would cost about $700 to fix, and if VW issues a recall later I could try to get it refunded from corporate at that time.

- Hinesville, GA, USA

problem #15

Apr 092015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
Vehicle air bag light illuminated as well as informed us on the information cluster horn no longer works and none of the steering wheel push button controls work dealer said it was a broken clock spring and that we needed to bring it in immediately because the air bags would not deploy correctly potentially the online forums that I've looked for information stated that multiple vehicles with this amount of miles have the same exact problem I was just curious why there wasn't a recall coming if the airbag potentially doesn't work.

- Damascus, OR, USA

problem #14

Feb 062015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
Clicking noise started inside steering wheel. Turning all the way to the right popping noise with airbag error message. Now no hands free controls, horn....updated 03-11-15 updated 6/18/2015

- Obetz, OH, USA

problem #13

Jan 132015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 39,462 miles
No accident. A premature failure of part 39462 - electric defective steering column control module which controls airbags, horn and other items in the steering column.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #12

Jan 102015

Passat 4-cyl

  • 49,865 miles
Drivers side door would not open with door unlocked. Spoke to VW service and they said it's a common issue on this car. Cold temperatures freeze up the door latch mechanism. Had to open the door from within the vehicle. VW service advised me to stop opening the door because the latch mechanism could fail completely and the door will not latch to close. They said bring the vehicle in so they could look at it. Brought the vehicle in and they said yes it's a failing door latch mechanism and the replacement cost would be $480. This seems to be a general issue with this vehicle with many customers complaining. A drivers side door that won't open and won't latch to close is a major problem.

- Abingdon, MD, USA

problem #11

Dec 062014

Passat 4-cyl

  • 37,860 miles
This car is built with reversed color coded battery cables without proper, easily identifiable polarity identification. The factory battery has conventional markings, red +, black -, however the black cable is designed to go on the "+" terminal and the red cable is designed to go on the "-" terminal on this model. There are no obvious polarity markings on the cables. If one looks very carefully you can find a tiny - stamp on the red cable terminal and the tiny + stamp is half covered by insulation and hidden on the black cable terminal. The battery terminals are of slightly different diameters to guide you to the proper installation but the diameter difference is not large and is easily adjusted with a screwdriver which I have had to adjust to fit on cables that were not improperly reversed in the past. Not noticing the reversed color coded cables prior to replacing the battery I hooked up a new VW oem replacement battery with reversed polarity as a result of the improper/reversed battery cable color codes. The cables were not tightend, just placed on the terminals at which point the horn sounded and would not go off at which point I removed the cables and looked very closely for markings indicating that I might have hooked them up improperly and noticed the aforementioned very hard to find tiny hidden stampings on the terminals revealing that I had hooked up the battery with reverse polarity. This resulted in $3000 of electrical damage to the car - and almost caused a fire, melting some of the harness and electronic control modules. Additionally 2 of the 3 protective fusible links designed to protect this circuitry melted together short circuit (instead of fusing open circuit) not protecting anything. This is a very dangerous multiple defect design that has the potential to cause injury and fire in addition to extensive damage and costly repairs.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #10

Dec 012014

Passat 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
Unable to unlock drivers side door on several occasions with key fob. No mechanical sound heard on drivers door when key fob pressed. All three (3) other doors unlocked with no issues. On a couple of other occasions, the drivers side door was unable to be opened from the inside and could not exit the car (handle only moved a small amount and seemed 'jammed'). after several times of pressing the lock/unlock button the door finally opened. Once I had to exit the car from the passenger side door. The inability to exit the car through the drivers side door is a safety issue in my mind.

- Griswold, CT, USA

problem #9

Oct 092014

Passat 4-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
Following a 40K service for my 2012 Passat tdi my wife called me and said when she pushed the start button, it took an extra try before it started. I dismissed this as I thought maybe she didn't have her foot all the way down on the brake. Then later in the week she said it took 4 pushes of the button before the car would start. I told her next time video tape the issue. The following week her car broke down at the mall - nothing would work. When I got there, I played with the parking lever, no good. Then I put in neutral and the car started. I drove to VW and they said the clean all the connecters on the start/stop switch and didn't see issue as car was working fine, but would order new switch and cover for me. The next day the car did it again, and I video taped the incident as well to share with the dealer. Again, it started in neutral. I took a chance and went out again that evening figuring this neutral thing would work and guess, what - was completely stuck after the dealer told me the issue was repaired and the replacement of the part was just precautionary. The car has been in shop for a week. They changed the switch this morning and guess that didn't resolve the issue. They are now ordering a hpfp!!!! I know it is possible that 2 issues could have been going on, but the whole time I told them I didn't think the switch made sense. Anyway, chalk up another hpfp for VW. Frustrated customer!

- Garden City, NY, USA

problem #8

Feb 222014

Passat 5-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, all of the warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel and the horn became inoperable. The problem recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the clock spring needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was unknown...updated 03-11-15 updated 6/18/2015

- Corona , CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 242014

Passat 4-cyl Diesel

  • 15,140 miles
On Tuesday, 24 June, I dropped off our 2012 VW Passat at a VW dealer for its 2 year / 20K mile service with 15,100 miles on the odometer. An electrical wiring recall regarding headlights and the hood was performed on the Passat. The incident occurred within an hour of leaving the dealer and after driving about 40 miles from the dealer. My wife was driving and her sister was in the front passenger seat. It was raining hard enough that it was difficult to see the highway lane markings and my wife was concentrating on following the car lights in front of her. The vehicle was in the second lane from the right of a four lane highway. Then, without any warning from dashboard lights or sounds, the windshield wipers stopped, the dashboard lights went dark, and the headlights went out. My wife's sister saw the car clock dials spin around several times and then stop at 9:00. All power was out in the Passat. The vehicle was moving down four lanes of highway without power. As the Passat slowed down, my wife kept the car pointed straight ahead. It is hard to determine if the steering wheel was locked because my wife wasn't trying to move the steering wheel very much. As the vehicle approached a highway exit, the highway lanes began to diverge as the right lane exited the highway, the second lane from the right slit with an option to exit to the right or remain on the highway, and the two left lanes remained on the highway. By maintaining a straight trajectory, my wife maneuvered the Passat into the median separating the highway from the off-ramp. The Passat rolled to a stop, dead in the median. While no other power was available in the Passat, the hazard flashing lights were functional.

- Denver, CO, USA

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