really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,421 miles

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problem #31

Oct 172016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. The contact stated that the air bag warning indicator remained illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was not available.

- Fort Smith, AR, USA

problem #30

Jul 102010

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. When the contact started the vehicle, the air bag warning light illuminated. The dealer previously replaced the air bag sensor, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 10/18/2017

- Gonzales, LA, USA

problem #29

May 102015


  • miles
I was struck by a driver on the freeway going about 30 mph who was switching lanes and hit my driver side tire and driver side fender on my car. My airbags did not deploy. I have continuously contacted and had my vehicle serviced for the defective airbag several times. I am a single mother of twins and this is my only car so I could not take the vehicle in every two to four weeks for this same problem that has lasted since I purchased the vehicle. I have all the records showing all the times I have taken the vehicle in to get the airbag light fixed and every time the VW company fixed it a few days to a week later it would come back on. This has been going on since August of 2006.

- Hesperia, CA, USA

problem #28

Sep 252014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
Bought this VW Beetle used. Had terrible smell, like burnt crayons. Cleaned it intensely, inside and outside. Thorough detail job. Still smells, causing headache. Air bag light and buzzer stayed on even after latching seat belt. Cruise control works erratically, lunging forward suddenly, then chugs, then lunges forward quickly again. Speed works consistently when cruise control is not engaged. Very unsafe with cruise control in use. Lighting issues. Interior lights would not work, unable to see interior gauges in the dark. Turn signals blinking erratically, and not in sync. Took vehicle in for repairs at an authorized VW dealer, paid $1,300. Still not working properly. Took it back in 4 days later because drivers side window almost fell out while driving, and interior lighting issues still did not work. Was charged another $600. Vehicle will not engage into drive position easily, and sometimes not at all unless the steering wheel is jerked on. Dealer said sensors were the problem, and that I will need to bring it back again to have the cruise control fixed at a cost of $250. I am scared to drive this vehicle now. There should be some recalls on the smell issue, and the air bag/seat belt issue. Also cruise control issue, because I have been told it is associated with the electrical problems.

- Yoder, IN, USA

problem #27

Aug 152014

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
On Friday, August 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm, I rear ended a Toyota highlander at a speed of about 30 mph. My passenger was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and on impact my passenger was ejected out of the seat and smashed her head off the windshield and then onto the dashboard. Also she hit her legs off the glove box hard enough that she could not walk after the accident. The windshield is smashed and the glove box door is broken. I on the other hand had my seat belt on, but my side of the car had sustained the most damage, but neither the driver or passenger air bags deployed.

- Shamokin Dam, PA, USA

problem #26

Feb 072008

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The driver's side air bags did not deploy as they should have in a head on car accident. Someone hit my car in the right rear end and I lost control of the car and it careened head first into a tree. Before the car was hit it was going about 30 - 35 mph but after it was hit it went faster, I can't say how much (I estimated above). I was the driver and only occupant. The car was totaled but the air bags did not deploy as they should have. I got whiplash (real whiplash) and injured my hip as it broke the arm rest. The VIN number I provided is for this car that was totaled - it's no longer on the street.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #25

Oct 192013

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
I was sitting in standstill traffic, by myself, was hit from behind at full freeway speed, forced into the car in front of me, resulting in a domino effect and a 6 car pile up. I sustained both front end and back end damage, totaling my car, my passenger airbag deployed (again, I was alone) the drivers side one did not, forcing me into the steering wheel and dashboard. I am currently under a doctors care.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #24

Sep 032013


  • 178,000 miles
The front seat belt buckle becomes defective and sets an airbag code making the air bag light turn on and possibly not work. This is the third time I have had to replace the buckle on this vehicle in 187,000 miles. I have checked a number of VW club forums and have found this is a very common issue on these vehicles. I feel this is a safety issue that NHTSA should look into.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #23

Sep 012011

Beetle 4-cyl

  • miles
I own a 2002 VW Beetle, the air bag light came on, and took it to the dealership and they want to charge around $600 dollars to get it fixed.I was doing some research on line about the airbag light coming on, and found out that alot of people who owned the same model year are having the same issue.I think this issue should be a recall since lots of other consumers are having exactly the same issue with the airbag like me.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #22

May 182011


  • 125,000 miles
Airbag light came on. Took it to the dealer to diagnose. Dealer stated that the drivers side (seat) side impact airbag (the one built into the side of the seat nearest the door) was not communicating with the airbag system and stated that it would cost $680 to fix. Less than a year ago I spent $500 on the drivers seat belt latch replacement to cure the airbag light.

- La Mesa, CA, USA

problem #21

Oct 102010


  • 110,000 miles
Drivers side seat belt latch sensor failure causes airbag error light on the dash to come on. Dealer states that when the light is on the airbags are disabled. Seems like an unnecessary sensor...when the car is in use wouldn't that mean that someone is in the drivers seat? $500 to fix.

- La Mesa, CA, USA

problem #20

Jul 262007

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
I have a 2002 VW Beetle. I had an airbag light come on 3 years ago. I had it fixed once. About 6 months later the light came back on and I was told that the problem may continue. I did not have it fixed again. I am now reading that this is a common problem. Why has this not been recalled?

- Spring Arbor, MI, USA

problem #19

Dec 102010


  • 65,000 miles
Seat belt/air bag light came on. Took to local, qualified mechanic. They said only VW dealer could fix and reset. Dealer said it was lower seat belt harness ($380), but could be more (above $800) and the service writer encouraged us to do the more expensive work. Told them to do the harness and see if light would go out, which it did. Light came back on around 12/10/2010 at approximately 79,000 miles. Just prior to this, we purchased another VW Beetle, a 2003 convertible with 69,500 miles with the seat belt/airbag light on. Seller said he could not get it fixed by his mechanic and had to have VW dealer repair it for around "$380", maybe more. Since he made other repairs, we let it go. Now we have two to fix at the mercy of the VW dealer. My concerns are several: 1. this is a recurring problem for us and for numerous others (VW Beetle forum) 2. the repairs can only be completed by a high cost VW dealer and the computer reset by them only 3. the materials appear to be deficient/defective and the engineering of the harness/wiring system substandard 4. repairs need to be made in the 60-85,000 mile range - a contrived maintenance/repair item that brings windfall revenue/profit to VW dealers in the $400-1,000 range per occurrence when many of the cars are worth only $4,000-7,000. 5. since it is a basic safety item and we don't know if the airbag system works or not, we are forced to repair this problem because it makes us appear as if we are negligent when in fact this problem should not exist and be covered by the manufacturer like emission systems to well past 100-150,000 miles. In summary, VW has colluded with its dealers to create this situation and allow this "repair" to emerge as a way to generate revenues and profits on cars that would normally not have a reason to be brought in to a VW dealer. It is non-competitive, fraudulent and unnecessary.

- Upland, CA, USA

problem #18

Oct 102010

Beetle 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
VW dealer advises that airbag light indicates airbags are disabled and caused by a malfunction in the seatbelt latch assembly costing $386 to repair. VW dealer says this happens a lot. VW dealer said that airbags would not have deployed. VW dealer said that wiring inside the latch "just breaks" eventually. Failure of safety equipment should be an automatic recall and manufacturers should be required to repair defects at their costs and not cost to the consumer.

- La Mesa, CA, USA

problem #17

Dec 122009


  • 50,000 miles
VW dealer advises that airbag light indicates airbags are disabled and caused by a malfunction in the seatbelt assembly costing over $500 to repair. D.O.T. requires manufacturers to insert airbags as safety measures, but fails to enforce auto manufacturers maintenance requirements for this defect. Failure of safety equipment should be an automatic recall and manufacturers should be required to repair defects at their costs and not cost to the consumer.

- Warren, RI, USA

problem #16

Jul 302010


  • 63,000 miles
Failed airbag wiring - dealer says its related to a seat sensor - light on dash came on at 62,000 miles has 108,000 currently.

- Eugene, OR, USA

problem #15

Mar 012007


  • 30,000 miles
I'm in the process of replacing my second driver's side seat belt latch (the female end that the belt attaches to) on my 2002 VW new Beetle. This failure triggers the air bag light on the instrument panel. The first seat belt latch was replaced in April of 2007; now, three years later, the air bag light is on again and the error code indicates the same issue, so I'm forced to replace the same part again. From my reading VW new Beetle forums, this is a chronic problem for this model year. At the very least you'd think VW would re-design the part to eliminate the issue so it only has to be replaced one time.

- San Dimas, CA, USA

problem #14

Apr 152009


  • 90,000 miles
2002 VW Beetle. The airbag warning light is on. The diagnosis is that a wire to the driver's side seat belt latch is broken therefore relaying that the seat belt is not latched (false positive). When the air bag light is on the air bag function is disabled. The repair is not of a wire, but of the entire seat belt at $250+. at any time this is a lot but when out of a job may be impossible. As my college-age daughter is the one in the seat, I am left without much choice, but to pay for the repair. This is the third time the air bag light has gone on, all with different diagnosis. Why is this not considered a safety issue? the topic is frequent on the web.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #13

Nov 072008


  • 55,000 miles
I own a 2002 Beetle. It has 55,000 miles on it. Two months ago the air bag light came on and won't go off. Now, the turn signals won't work. To add to this once in awhile the sun roof will open on it's own!!! the dealer said it will cost about $650 to fix. This is not the first time with electrical problems with this car. The complete lighting system went out, the security door lock system stopped, the rear brake lights quit working, both windows have stopped going up and down. A couple of times the engine won't start and three times it will just shut down while driving. This car has a mind of it's own. Luckily no one has been hurt yet. Some of this has been recalled and some not.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #12

Nov 012008


  • 95,000 miles
Airbag light came on. I took it in and they said it is caused by a bad wiring harness in the drivers seat, something to do with the seatbelt latch. It is my understanding that the airbags will not work if the light is on. There should be a recall. Consumers should not have to pay for a manufacturer defect! there have been numerous complaints, yet VW has yet to recall this part. Are they waiting until someone dies?

- Madison, WI, USA

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