really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
24,658 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

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problem #12

Jan 172007

GTI 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 86,000 miles
I was driving on the highway in my 2002 Volkswagen Gti when suddenly the side and curtain airbags deployed for no reason at all. I did not hit a pothole, rock, or any object of any kind. The engine then shut off but I managed to safely move my car to the right lane. As a result of the airbag deployment I suffered minor burns and a sore back. I called Volkswagen of America and they immediately began telling me it was not their fault and that I must have hit something. They advised me to bring the Gti into the nearest dealership to check for damage. The dealership inspected the car and found no damage. The technician told me there was no reason for the airbags to have deployed. He then sent that information to Volkswagen of America. Two day later they called me to ask me to once again bring the car into the dealership so that a representative could inspect the car. I will be bringing the car in tomorrow. I have researched this problem on the internet and found that this is a problem that has been reported over 400,000 times. It does not seem that Volkswagen is going to pay to fix the problem since my car is no longer under warranty. I am now pursuing a class action suit against Volkswagen of America. I am absolutely stunned that Volkswagen of America can get away with not taking responsibility for their manufacture defects. I will never own another VW again, and I will do all that I can to discourage anybody I know from purchasing a Volkswagen. These claims need to be taken seriously, and something needs to be done about it before serious injury, or even death, occurs.

- Chester, NY, USA

problem #11

Aug 102005

GTI 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
Spontaneous airbag deployment 8-10-05 I was driving alone down a boulevard at 35 mph when I heard a loud noise like a gunshot from my right side. The side curtain airbags had deployed on the passenger side leaving me with an ear ache, as well as interior full of smoke and debris. Worst of all, the engine stopped running. I coasted about 200 feet then turned onto a side street. I'm fortunate that I did not come into contact with any other vehicles or pedestrians. I did not hit a pothole, rut, curb or anything else. I was driving down a well-traveled smooth road in denver (South broadway). The airbags just deployed for no apparent reason. After gathering my wits and airing out the car, I restarted it and drove directly to my local VW service facility. The next day, my service advisor said the mechanic saw evidence of an impact on the side of the frame. I explained that the car was on smooth pavement when this happened. I also mentioned that 18 months ago I had hit a square-edged rut in the road that caused some rim damage to the front-right wheel and also caused a tire impact separation (bubble). Perhaps this is the impact mark that the mechanic detected. I gave this statement to vwoa at my advisor's request. I explained that this is a safety problem and should be covered under warranty as the car is less than 4 years old and under 50,000 miles. My local service advisor called me back to say that a supervisor will determine how to proceed with repairs. Evidently, this is not automatically a warranty item. Vwoa needs to step up and fully investigate this matter and take preventive actions immediately. There are several VW owners in my immediate family. We are all very concerned about the airbag safety of this vehicle even after repairs are completed.

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #10

Apr 262005

GTI 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
I own a 2002 Volkswagen Gti. I was at afull stop on an intersection making a right turn, and as soon I turned, my passenger side curtain airbag and seat airbag exploded. They did not even do what it suppose to do, the airbags just exploded! I took it to hammer lane Volkswagen here in stockton but they told me that it is not under warranty because they found a small dent under my car. They were trying to tell me that it was the cause why they deployed. They were telling me that I ran over something at the time of the incident. I searched on the internet and found that 107 complaints to NHTSA on 2001-2003 golf, Gti, and jetta that side-impact airbags were activited improperly. I printed that page, showed it to them and asked them for an explaination, but could not give me any specific answer that I need. I was also asking for an explaination why my airbags did not deploy when I ran over something about two weeks ago before the incident, on the driver side which caused a big dent underneath? this is really ridiculos what happened to me. They are trying to charge me about $4,000 for the damage and labor. They suggested to just call my insurance "maybe " they will pay for the damage. I hope this won't happen to those people whose driving these cars. Thank you very much for your time reading my complaint.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 192004

GTI 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 39,000 miles
The consumer was coming out of a toll booth at approximately 45 mph and passenger's side airbag deployed for no reason, resulting in minor injuries. The A/C was inoperative, the passenger side window dropped and would not close, the coil was a problem and the cooling fan had broken.

- West Dundee, IL, USA

problem #8

Nov 192004

GTI 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
This is a complaint for a 2002 Volkswagen Gti. While I was driving, the passenger side curtain, pillar, and seat airbags all deployed. There is no damage at all to the vehicle. I contacted Volkswagen to repair the car under their warranty but they refuse to repair the vehicle under the warranty since they claim that there is crush data stored in the vehicle computer. My wife who was sitting in the passenger seat has her leg bruised because of the airbag deployment. This is a very serious safety issues since the airbag deployment made a very loud noise, and fill the car in "white powder". this almost cause an accident in itself because of the noise and the ringing in my ear for the next minute or so. This is also not the first case of this kind of airbag deployment. I research on the web after in incident and found people who have similar experience in a vehicle of the same model and other Volkswagen vehicle. Below are the links for them forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread"id=1558886 tech.bentleypublishers.com/thread.jspa"messageid=104943&tstart=0

- West Dundee, IL, USA

problem #7

Apr 222004

(reported on)


  • 24,000 miles
The passenger side air bag deployed without instance. Volkswagen of America claimed this was not their issue, and consumer should take it up with the insurance company.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #6

Feb 192004

GTI 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 35,000 miles
While driving 55mph on I-65 in ky side airs bags inadvertently deployed without any impact or collision. Managed to get to emergency lane without any accident. Brought to dealership. At first, dealership denied fault, but after several inspections concluded that no collision or impact occurred. Dealership needed approval from vwoa to fix under warranty. Air bag specialist sent out from vwoa to inspect. Car is currently at dealership still waiting on decision.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #5

Jun 132003

GTI 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 14,458 miles
I was driving my 2002 VW Gti VR6 on a semi-rough section of the parks highway in Alaska at approx. 30-35 mph when the passenger side airbags suddenly deployed. The road was no worse than a maintained gravel road, there was no "crash" or accident, and I didn't hit a pothole. The dealer looked at my otherwise mint condition and undamaged car and said that the computer had "crash data" and possible gravel dings on the undercarriage (which could have occurred at anytime in the past 10 months I have owned this vehicle as I frequently drive on maintained gravel roads). It was the technician's belief that these minor gravel dings on the undercarriage should not have caused the airbags to release and that the airbag replacements would most likely be covered under warranty, but it was VW's ultimate decision. My insurance adjustor said basically the same thing as minor dings to the undercarriage are expected as normal wear and tear and told the dealership that they were stretching it when they came up with a possible explanation. VW headquarters came back and said since there is "crash data" in the computer and the car has small dings on the undercarriage, it was not covered under warranty as it was a crash. I think VW is missing the point by saying that since there is "crash data" in the computer, the airbags are my problem. The real question is should the airbags have deployed under these conditions? the dealer techs say no, my passenger and I say no, and my insurance and their investigator says no. This airbag deployment almost caused an accident and resulted in my passenger being bruised.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #4

Mar 152003

GTI 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 12,440 miles
The driver side seat and side curtain airbags deployed on my 2002 Volkswagen Gti 337 edition for no readily apparent reason. This left me with a ringing ear, sore shoulder, and in a very shaken state. The dealership that I took the car to for factory repair at first agreed that there was no damage to indicate any sort of accident. Two days later a factory engineer (apparently from vwoa) examined the car and found a nick in a metal beam. This nick (smaller than a dime) is apparently what caused the airbags to deploy. The dealership has stated that my insurance would have to cover the repairs as they are not under warranty because of this nick. I'm currently in the process of filing a claim through the BBB auto line. They have a process through mediation and arbitration that will hopefully resolve my situation without having to resort to a lawsuit. I strongly feel that they should have taken care of the repair without question, especially considering the dangerous nature of airbag deployment.

- Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 012002


  • miles
Consumers son was driving the vehicle. While pulling away from the stop sign, hitting a minor pot hole, all the airbags in the vehicle deployed. There was a loud gun shot-like explosion, white powder filled the vehicle. The vehicle was driven to mag for immediate inspection. Mag determined that the interior was significantly damaged. A Volkswagen representative investigated the situation and the judgement was for the the expense for repairs be Volkswagen's. a total of fifteen to twenty parts were required for repair.

- Dublin, OH, USA

problem #2

May 252002


  • miles
I was driving my company car (golf Gti 1.8T - mi license vvd 493) along 86th street in indianapolis, in on Saturday 25th May 2002 with mr dario rossi (sales manager of magneti marelli motorsports) sitting in the passenger seat; when crossing ditch rd at about 20 mph I hit a pothole that was not signaled with the right front wheel and the two side airbags on the passenger's side went off (from the passenger seat and from the roof), hitting Mr. Rossi. Also the ignition cut off and shut down the engine.

- Farmington Hills, MI, USA

problem #1

Apr 082002


  • miles
While driving I encountered an uneven spot in the road ( like a pothole) and the airbags on the right side of the car ( side airbag and side curtain) deployed. The problem is that it was not a significant impact to the car. There is no damage to the car other than the airbags now requiring replacement. Even the alaignment seems fine although the dealer is checking it out to be sure. I believe the airbag sensor was defective (too sensitive) and should not have deployed the airbag. When the airbags are deployed (for no apparent good reason) it is obviously distracting to the driver and can create a dangerous situation. For me it was downright scary. I thought someone shot at the car. The dealer seems perplexed as to why the bags would have deployed without an impact significant enough to damage the car. Now, even though I didn't wreck the car, I and my insurance company are left with the cost of repairs on a component that I believe was defective and caused this whole mess.

- Tampa, FL, USA