really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,071 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

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problem #10

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 #9

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 #8

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 #7

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 #6

Apr 062009


  • miles
I am an owner of a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. My seatbelt light came on. I brought car into greenbrier Volkswagen dealership located in chesapeake, va in Feb 2009. I was informed that the latch (buckle) on driver's side seat was defective. I had dealership replace. One month later seatbelt light came on again. I brought car back to dealership. I was told by dealership that passenger seatbelt latch (buckle) was defective. I called dealership and spoke with my service rep brent from greenbrier Volkswagen and he stated "this is a known problem with Beetles" I asked him if it is a known problem on a importation safety device of a seatbelt was is there no recall on vehicle to replace defective seatbelt latches. He was unable to provide me an answer. I now have concerns with not only my vehicle safety, but all who drive Beetles. I would like to know if this is a known problem if will there be a mandatory recall.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #5

Jul 272004


  • 112,115 miles
Rear collision accident in 2004, now seatbelt latch mechanism not working, struts and wheel bearings damaged and need replacement along with subframe and emergency brake system.

- Benson, AZ, USA

problem #4

Mar 012008

Beetle 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles
Air bag light intermittent. 3rd time for service to air bag system. 1st event was in warranty - replace clock spring, 2nd and 3rd events were not covered - over 50K miles and extended warranty claims they do not cover safety related systems including air bag systems. 2nd issue, was too short in length of wiring harness leading to clock spring. 3rd issue was due to seat belt switch, now light is again on. Have not taken car back to dealer yet.

- Barrington, IL, USA

problem #3

Nov 172007

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen new Beetle. When the vehicle is turned on the air bag indicator light illuminated on the instrument control panel. The dealer stated that the air bag was deactivated and the seat belt latch system needed to be repaired in order for the air bag system to function properly. The contact would have to pay for the repair because air bag was not covered under warranty. The vehicle needs to be repaired. The failure mileage was 51,000 and current mileage was 52,000. Updated 02/14/08. The brake light bulb and right rear tail light was inoperative. Updated.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #2

Jan 012005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle. Over the course of three years, the seat belt light remained illuminated on the dashboard. The first time this incident occurred the failure was remedied at the Volkswagen dealer. The second time, the entire seat belt unit was replaced as a result of a crash. The contact notified the manufacturer on multiple occasions, but Volkswagen is unable to resolve the failure. The current mileage is 50,500 and failure mileage was 30,000.

- Edina, MN, USA

problem #1

Jan 192006

Beetle 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,591 miles
: the consumer stated the air bag light illuminated on a continuous basis. The dealership determined the switch in the seat belt needs to be replaced. If the switch is not replaced, the air bag may not deploy in a collision. Updates 3/3/2006 -

- Lakeland, FL, USA