really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,648 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

The NHTSA is the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints can be spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem. See the Back button — blue bar at the very top of the page — to explore more.

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problem #6

Jan 152010


  • 66,000 miles
About 9 months ago I was caught in a heavy rainstorm with my 2002 Passat 1.8T. Water flooded the battery compartment due to drainage hole located under the battery clogged with leaf debris. All power (steering, brakes, etc.) was lost and car stalled out on the highway. Now the car's brakes are malfunctioning in freezing weather. The brake pedal sticks to the floor at times; other times the pedal is very hard and must be stomped on to stop the car. I cannot use the car under these circumstances as it is too dangerous. VW dealership confirmed diagnosis of problem as resulting from freezing water in brake booster. I reported the problem to VW customer care. They refuse to reimburse me for the dealer's $1600 fee to replace the booster, booster lines and vacuum pump. Why hasn't NHTSA forced VW to issue a recall as I've discovered there have been numerous other similar complaints" VW's stance on this was that the problem would be noticed in the driveway or at low speeds and therefore doesn't pose a safety hazard. This is totally unacceptable as temperatures can change quickly during a journey. Why has NHTSA backed down in the face of such a lame response" I will never again buy another VW car since their vaulted safety reputation is not deserved and their customer service stinks.

- Lansdowne, VA, USA

problem #5

Jun 012008


  • 49,000 miles
My car has suddenly started to downshift on it's own, RPM's will also continue to increase when taking foot off accelerator, and then suddenly when attempting to accelerate from a stop the car will not react at all for several seconds and then rapidly surges forward uncontrollably. This all in conjunction with a continued complaint of a burning smell from my central dashboard vent. ( this burning was supposed to have been remedied by a recent recall. The mechanic and service advisor were able to duplicate this, but it was deemed normal and without duplication by the head mechanic. The service manager later investigated this and decided a new catalytic converter may remedy the situation. This has not helped and the car continues to react inconsistently with sudden downshifting while accelerating and then sudden rapid acceleration surges forward which seem very unsafe when negotiating busy city streets. My car has only 49,000 miles on it!

- West Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #4

Sep 112007

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,540 miles
2002 Passat began thumping and lurching while in motion and while idling. Check engine light came on. Acceleration was abnormally slow. Three inches of standing water appeared in right rear footwell. Dealer informed me acceleration problem was due to water in tcm. Tcm short circuited and then powertrain dropped. Water damage was due to leaking pollen filter seal, which was subject to P9 recall. Car was past warranty on time, but not miles. They fixed pollen filter seal and told me they couldn't do anything about the $4,000-$5000 damage from the leaking water. The car is not safe to drive. My car is parked outside. We had several rainy days in the week before the problem. The service manager suggested I must have left the window open. I contacted VW Corp and they suggested I take it to a dealer for repair at my own expense.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #3

Sep 062006

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,350 miles
2002 Volkswagen Passat wagon / 92350 miles placed in "park" on a slight incline (parking brake not used). Engine was turned off and the keys were removed. Driver stepped out of the car and a few seconds later car started rolling backwards with children (ages 3 and 10 mo) in the car. Driver jumped in car to set the brake, but fell on street as car rolled. Car crossed street and headed down a steeper incline hitting bushes, crossing another driveway, and finally hitting a rock wall coming to a stop. Children were ok. Driver had bruises / scratches from falling on pavement. Car sustained $3,400 in damage. Neighbors verified car was in park, and owner manual states that keys cannot be removed without the car being in park ( keys were observed by several neighbors to be out of the car). Volkswagen of America asked me to go to a dealer for problem determination. Dealer tried parking the car 5 times on uphill and downhill inclines, and park held. They also checked the computer and found no faults. No attempt was made to check the internals of the transmission, to determine whether the incline was the same as the driveway where it occurred, or to determine whether there was a reason for an intermittent problem. VW of America stated that the dealer had found the car was in spec (with the 5 hill tests and computer check), and no further action would be taken. VW stated that we should also have been using the parking brake any time we park (we do on steeper hills, but not on hills as slight as our driveway). Nobody has explained why park failed even though the keys were out of the ignition (and observed to be by others) -- I concede the parking brake should always be used out of extreme caution, but most people do not on slight hills -- park should not fail in any case. We feel we have to get rid of the car asap because this has not been explained / addressed. Other cars (like 2006 BMW) have recalls on the parking pawl, but VW will not investigate further.

- Yorktown Heights, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 162005

Passat 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles
The check engine light came on while vehicle still under warranty, but the dealer said there was nothing wrong. After owning the car for one year the transmission had to be replaced. But it still transmission not work properly.. it jumped into gear. Also, the engine air bag, and thermostat lights kept coming on. One week ago, the car wouldn't start. Replaced the battery, and a few days after that it wouldn't start again. Currently, the dealer insisted it needed a new alternator, and F warranty expired. In order to get to the original problem, it would cost $1100.

- Richmond, TX, USA

problem #1

Oct 012002

Passat 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased a brand new VW Passat gls 2002, on June 18, 2002 at commonwealth VW Audi, 1450 auto mall drive, santa ana ca 92705. Unfortunately, the VW Passat gls 2002 has not held up to its promise of being a well-engineered car. After less than 9 months of ownership, I had to bring the car to the dealership for repairs 3 times, which is a far drive from my present residence in highland, ca. I purchased a brand new car with the intention of having a reliable mode of transportation for the two-hour trip back and fourth from tustin to Ontario on a daily basis for work. I had confidence in Volkswagen because of its prestigious reputation. Having successive car problems has made me reluctant to drive this car. The first breakdown was in Oct. 2002, the mil (malfunction indicator lamp) light came on, the car started to shake, and it lost power on my way to work. I was able to make it and I had the car towed to the dealership. The dealership replaced the defective ignition coil, and set the readiness code. I did not get a loaner car, and the car was left at the dealership for two days. The second time, was in Dec. 2003. The exact same problem arose. This time they had replaced all four ignition coils, set the readiness code, and supplied me with a VW rental. The car was in the shop for two days as well. I had lost all confidence in the Passat I purchased. The third occasion, as I exited the freeway to get to work, the mil light came on again. I was at a complete stop. When I pressed on the gas, the car jerked two times. I made it to the parking lot of my job, and had the car towed yet another time. This was March 18, 2003. The dealership removed and installed the automatic transmission fluid pan, the transmission speed sender, and the vehicle speed sensor. They supplied me with a 3-day loaner car. The Passat stayed in the shop for 4 days.

- Highland, CA, USA