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VW New Beetle (GL, GLS & GLX)



  • Dear VW USA President,

    As the President of Volkswagen, I thought you might like to hear of my recent experience in purchasing a product from your company. It is a story from which not only you, but many others, can learn, and one which I am anxious to share.

    I spent many years admiring Volkswagen cars for both their styling and espoused reliability, before I could finally afford to purchase one after I completed graduate school in 2002. In 2003, I proudly purchased a second-hand 1999 New Beetle GL, 2.0L, with a manual transmission and 50540 on the odometer. I had the car service checked by a AAA technician prior to purchase, to make sure it was in good condition, and I drove away a relatively happy customer. I was given no warranty brochure and no information about the manufacturer's warranty at this time.

    As I rarely drove the car in the first month of ownership, I made my first journey in it when I moved from ****to ****. This is the last time I drove the car happily. My ten year admiration of Volkswagen began to dissipate one month into ownership. Immediately after the 350 mile drive, the 'check engine light' came on in my vehicle, and I lost power between gears. I spent the next four months and nearly $700 trying to fix this problem, including two visits to an extremely unreliable, unfriendly and not especially knowledgeable dealership (about whom I complained to VW USA).

    It was during the next couple of months (September--October 2003) that I discovered the excessive oil consumption of the car. I drove one thousand miles without checking the oil in the Beetle, and the level went so low it caused the engine to knock. VW claims in one of their technical service bulletins (1701) that this level of consumption (one quart per thousand miles) is normal. If so, may I suggest that oil gauges similar to petrol gauges be fitted into the instrument panel? Since this is a most unusual characteristic of an automobile, the ignorance of which could cause the destruction of the engine, I think the driver should have an easy way of knowing when a refill is needed (usually every 2-3 weeks), as with the petrol.

    In the new year, the Beetle suffered a spate of small problems. The battery died at 58K. Door handles and the finish on the parking brake wore. A cupholder broke off. The plastic grid at the front snapped. No one could fix the power mirrors which had never worked. However, this was a time of relative peace between me and the Beetle. Although I dreaded the return of the infamous check engine light , everything seemed to be fixed for the first time. I call this period, 'The Calm Before the Storm'.

    The storm blew in around June 2004, with 60000 miles on the odometer, to mark the anniversary of one year of unhappy ownership, I heard a noise upon releasing the clutch at start up. Taking the car to the shop, I was told to replace the starter motor. This cost me $500. I also had the car fully serviced, which cost me $600. The replacement of a blown tail light and a new windshield blade cost another $130.

    At this point, my family and friends began to beg me to sell the car. And at this point, I was afraid to pass on my problem to someone else. And would it were, but that's not the end of my story.

    Whilst on my way home from work (odometer 67000) at the end of July, I heard an awful scraping sound coming from the transmission. I feared the worst, and received it. The mechanic diagnosed an 'internal failure', very similar to the one I suffered when told my repair bill, to replace the entire transmission: $2900! One third of the purchase price of the car.

    It was at this point I called the customer service representatives at VW USA, and was informed that I was not covered under the 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. as I was not the car's original owner. I was however told that, due to recalls, I could have my Mass Air Flow Sensor replaced; my windows fixed if they fell into the door; and my complaint documented. And that was that. Mr Klaus, don't you think a warranty should stand behind a car, not an owner? I should very much like to know why, if VW have faith in their product, this policy is in effect.

    A week ago I collected my car from the mechanic. The clutch, they found out, was also 75% worn, and also needed replacement. The bill was nearly $3500. A day or so after I collected it, the lock system was mistiming, and a $1 door switch needed replacement. VW, however, only offers a whole new latch. This repair cost me $250.

    A year of VW ownership has cost me nearly $6000 (not including routine service, such as oil changes), as well as untold amounts of depression and inconvenience. It has sunk me to a level of debt I did not anticipate.

    Additionally, the car has spent over a month in total in repair shops, leaving me stranded. It is now for sale, despite my qualms of conscience over selling such a sour lemon to another unknowing human being.

    Mr **, the one thing you should know, if you learn nothing else from my story, is that I am not alone. You can refer to websites such as,, and others: a short Google search brings up many such websites entirely devoted to problems with modern VWs. On these sites, you can, and you should, read about some of the misery, expense and inconvenience these cars have caused their unfortunate owners.

    To satisfy my own curiosity, and to sooth my misery with company, last night I looked through moderated discussion groups on other web sites:,, Consumer Reports. Each and every site had a long discussion regarding problems with VWs. For the two good reviews I read, I must have read 100 very bad ones. Included in these were some very negative comments about VW Customer Service and poor quality dealerships (corroborated by my own experience).

    The complaints myself and other owners have voiced are not minor problems. They are major issues, and they have a routine similarity: transmission and engine failure, fuse boxes melting, persistent check engine light, electrical fires, window collapses, and so on. These issues are not only excessively expensive to repair; they are also safety hazards.

    As I am sure you know, modern companies are based on brand image. But perhaps you do not know that the current brand image of Volkwagen-- among the volks, anyhow, who actually drive the car-- is failure. We unhappy few have found to our misfortune that, due to the cost of repairs, a total lack of reliability, poor customer service, poor dealership service, and the refusal of Volkswagen to stand behind the car with their warranty (rather than use it as a buyer incentive), these cars have become one of the least attractive options on the market.

    The drivers Volkswagen advertised for are out there, telling their stories. I think you should listen.

    In the summer of 2003, you had a life-long VW customer. Now, in the summer of 2004, I wouldn't buy a VW if yo
  • In the summer of 2003, you had a life-long VW customer. Now, in the summer of 2004, I wouldn't buy a VW if you sold it to me for $1. That's correct: $1 US dollar. Not now, not ever. Nor will the friends, family and many colleagues who have witnessed my ordeals first- hand. Customer loyalty, I think you may find in future, is a matter of principle.

    I think it shan't be long before Volkswagen is saying, in a rather different sense, 'Drivers wanted'.

    Well, ****** I very much hope you enjoyed my story. For I believe that rather soon you will be reading it everywhere.

    Sincerely yours,

    Dissatisfied VW owner
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I think we got the point in your first post, no need to post a second time.
  • I have a 1999 New beetle that I bought new and I love the car. It runs well and it is so much fun to drive. The one complaint I have is that is has always had a funny musty smell coming from the vents when you first drive it on a warm day. Once I put the air on it will take a few minutes and then little by little it goes away only to come back when I get in the car and start out again. I called VW and they said to spray some stuff that was supposedly sold at the dealership into the vents. The dealership had no idea what I was talking about. I went to a different dealership and they had no suggestions. The car is kept outdoors all year long and since it happens in warm or especially hot weather I am thinking that it must have to do with pollen or something that gets into the vents. It doesn't happen with my other two cars, which are Hondas. Does anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions as to how to rid the car of it? I've tried a million different air fresheners, nothing works. I'd love to get another Bug someday but I am afraid it will be another "stinker."
  • Two weeks ago I bought a new bug convertible for my wife. So far we have 11 warranty problems that need to be addressed...including the drivers window falling down inside the door and shattering. I now have duck tape holding a plastic window in place until I can get it serviced.

    I smell lemons.
  • ftl1ftl1 Posts: 1
    We have a 2000gl red we bought new and it has 145k on it. We are now replacing the 2 belts,water pump,catalytic converter,shocks and struts but up until now only replaced tires once and brakes twice and one battery. This car is a tank and great in the snow! I hope to run it FOREVER!!!!!
  • Have read a number of entries re; check engine light (CEL) on NBs. I just bought a 2001 (43m miles) GLS with base engine. The morning after arrival the CEL came on. I had my trusted local foreign car repairman (NOT VW dealer) check it - $420 later, we've replaced a speed sensor and temperature sensor. The light still flickers and engine runs rough under load until it warms up - then the CEL goes out and everything is fine. He tells me that VWs, Jettas incl. have all manner of small niggling problems - suggested I buy Toyota or Honda. By the way, the car's color is that of a familiar citrus fruit used to flavor your iced tea....
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    I take it to mean that nobody has any problems with their Beetles anymore. That's nice to know.
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Posts: 457
    I understand that VW is going to upgrade the New Beetle with some design changes for both the interior and the exterior for the 2006 (or 2007 ?) model year.


    Does anyone have any information on the design changes ??


    A link to any information would be useful !
  • pielotpielot Posts: 4
    Wondering if anyone has any advice: I have an 02 Turbo S Beetle with 25,000 miles. I am about to purchase a Touareg, and I am considering trading the Beetle. Haven't had any issues with it, and may decide to keep it and deal with higher payments than I'd prefer on the Touareg. What I'm wondering is if there is any sense that the Turbo S will have any value due to it's limited and now discontinued production. My wife loves the car, and I might garage it and keep it long term if I think it will retain some value beyond that of a "normal" used car.


    Appreciate any feedback.
  • Trust me, we are having tons of problems. I have a 1999 GLS that has been in the shop at least four times for electrical work - none of it cheap after the short warranty period. With only 53,000 miles, the headliner is coming down and the door leather is pulling away from the armrest. I would expect something like this to happen on a 1967 Buick but not six year old VW. So much for quality!
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    I have a 1967 Ford Thunderbird, which is my hobby car. The original door panels, headliner, and seats are still in great condition. And the power driver's seat still works! Same for the cascading rear turn signals, which were a neat feature on this car. This car has brushed stainless inserts on the dash, glovebox, and along the sides of the center console. I have seen quite a few of these old T-birds with good looking original interior. They surely do not make cars like they used to.


    Imagine what your VW's interior will look like after 38 years!
  • I know exactly the smell you are talking about. I am sure by now you have figured it out but if not. Change your polen filter. I change mine and it seems to have helped. Change it yourself. It's located in the front dash. The raised center panel slides out and it's on the passenger side of the dash. hope this helps
  • Hi, I have a 2001 red Turbo Beetle 5-speed and I must preface by saying that so far, at 56,000 miles I havent had any out of pocket costs for anything other than maintenance, a battery, and rear brake pads. So from a mechanical standpoint, so far, the car has been great. My complaint is that the interior has been a nightmare! First the central locking system failed at 32,000 miles and VW would not cover it. I would have to pay $300 for that repair. In addition, and I will use asterisks for those items which have already been replaced at least once but now VW will not cover anymore. The trim issues: door handles*, brake lever*, center console, pleather shifter boot*, glove box door, stering wheel rubber and paint* all have reoccurring problems with the finish peeling and the brake lever button just breaks of after about 20,000 miles of use ( just long enough that it escapes the measley 1 yr warranty). The driver's seat backrest: The cloth on the side near the driver's door has a hole in it the size of an apple and was getting bigger each week until I duct taped over it temporarily. That repair, of couse not covered by VW, will run $250. The drivers floor mat has a hole in the center of it and the rug underneath rapidly deteriorating. I have talked repeatedly with the VW Customer Care Center and got NO help whatsoever. I don't know why they call it a Care Center, because they don't care. They are the most stoic, uninterested, read from a corporate script, unwilling to help bunch of losers I've ever talked to. I, too, am a lifelong VW enthusiast and have driven VWs since the mid 70's. I explained that to them and it meant NOTHING to them. I asked for President Klauss' phone number and was told it would do no good as they are following his policies. This is very frustrating because I love the car, yet I can't enjoy it because the interior looks like crap. And in order to make it look right again, I havre to spend well over $1000 and then go through this again a year or so later. I think that everyone who has had interior trim problems should get together and file a class action lawsuit against VW. If they won't listen to their customers, perhaps they'll listen to a judge.

  • cooljwcooljw Posts: 47
    I have a 2002 GL (2.0L gas engine of course) with 16k miles on it. Now I am getting really lousy gas mileage, ~21mpg. Although I've always been very disappointed with this vehicle's gas mileage, since the car was new the gas mileage was always consistently around 24-25mpg no matter the mix of city/highway driving. Is the subpar fuel economy I'm getting a sign of a mechanical problem?

    Never had a problem with the car (except for a bad coolant temperature sensor which was replaced under warranty). Oil was last changed 1,000 miles ago, problem has surfaced since then.

    Admittedly, the car is used more for "city" driving, but not exclusively so. Ridiculous as it sounds, at 21mpg I would consider upgrading to a roomy SUV since my gas mileage would be the same!
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    Try having the fuel injectors and the throttle body cleaned and start using only brand name gas. Try premium for a while, you may see quite an increase in fuel economy. High revving engines do not like cheap fuel.
  • 87cab87cab Posts: 2
    I'd appreciate any advice on which used new beetle models are best, and which have most problems. Thanks.
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Posts: 457
    Here's my take on everything:

    Skip the (regular-gas) turbo, V6, and maybe the TDI. They have had their share of problems. Believe it or not the 2 liter 4cylinder is the most reliable (albeit slower) engine.

    The automatics are much more reliable than the stick. Lots of problems with the stick shift versions. Also clutch replacement is VERY expensive - like $1500 to $2000.

    If you can afford it, buy a later model car such as a 2002 model on up. The earlier models suffered the most problems. Don't expect your Beetle to be anywhere near as reliable as a Toyota/Honda though. On the plus side these cars have little depreciation compared to other cars in their class.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    To my knowlege only the turbo models have the dual mass flywheel, which sometimes leaks grease and ruins the clutch friction disc. It is the replacement of this flywheel that makes clutch replacement so expensive.

    As far as good resale, not really. Many non-VW dealers are aware of New Beetle problems and bad consumer reliability reports, so they are not going to give you much on trade-in.
  • tfmktfmk Posts: 1
    Hi all! I just drove home my 2000 GLX with 50k on the odo. I thought I'd Google some groups to see what the masses say about these toys, but to my surprise, what I've seen is contempt. I live in an area where you can't spit without hitting a Jetta/Passat/Beetle, so WTF??!? Is it that no one here knows how to drive a stick or replace their own tail light and forget the origins of the VW BUG?!?!? Please advise.
    2000 YELLOW GLX
  • 08110811 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 GLS Turbo (gas engine), special edition, 5-speed manual, with 25,000 miles. While driving at 70 mph, it's registering at 3.2K rpm. While this may be correct, the motor sounds to be revving a little high. I've only had the car a couple of months, but have driven sticks for 20+ years. The car has averaged around 26-27 miles per gallon, while useing premium fuel.
    Should I be concerned about this, or is this the norm?
  • There is actually a TSB (technical service bulletin) pertaining to this problem.

    The problem is caused by a clogged drain that allows water to accumulate and eventually causes mold in the A/C coil. The dealer is supposed to unclog the drain, and then spray an antibacterial spray onto the coil.

    I have yet to find a dealer who new how to do this. I was fortunate to have a friend who owns a repair shop that did the repair. That's also how I found the TSB on the problem (sorry I don't remember the TSB number).

    You have to pull the top of the dash out to do this, and you might want to replace your A/C air filter while you have it exposed.
  • first, check with your dealer for a recall. VW recalled the front 02 sensor, and then recalled the MAS (mass air flow sensor).

    I've struggled with CEL problems for the past 50 miles. I've replaced both front and rear 02 sensors twice.

    Just today a friend of mine was playing with his new OBD software and wanted to test it on the beetle. This new software was able to tell that my catalytic convertor has an intermittent failure. The dealer wants $1200 for the part, but I've seen them on the net for as low as $350. Find someone with a very updated OBD computer. Even the dealer was guessing because their equipment was not as advanced.

    Also, never run 87 octane fuel. mine runs fine on 89, but runs horribly on 87.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    I own a 99 Mazda 626 V6, 5 speed manual. The RPMs are about 4000 at 80MPH in top gear, and 3500 at 70 MPH. This is a non-turbo 2.5 liter V6 170 HP engine.

    I also owned a 92 Mazda Protege with a 4 cylinder 1.8 DOHC engine (non-turbo), 5 speed manual and the
    RPMs were about the same as for the 626.

    Based on this, I do not think you have anything to be concerned with.
  • Yes, I'm very happy with my beetle! it has been one of the best cars I've ever owned, and probably the least expensive to drive.

    I've read some of the posts and I wonder if I'm driving a different beetle.

    First, I'll tell you that I just turned 130,000 miles on my odometer today. I've never owned a car with this many miles on it.

    Second, I can tell you I'm very hard on a car. I drive fast, my antenna is bent from running 115 mph. I'm on my 4th set of tires, but the car is so smooth i've gone 20,00 miles w/out rotating the tires. I replaced brake pads at 110,000 miles. I put a water pump and timing belt in at 90,000 (less than $100), VW paid for my 02 sensors. I've never had an aliginment. I've put 3 sets of spark plugs in for gas mileage ( I still average 29 mpg), and I put a K&N air filter in at 70,000.

    I have two kids, I've left the sunroof open during storms, I haul stuff in it, my daughter stands on the center armrest to look out the sunroof (not while driving), and drive it like a race car. Everything still works except for the CD changer, but I have an iPod so who cares? The only other car that comes close to this for reliability is my Lexus LS400, but it's not treated the same either!!!!
    Enjoy your beetle!!!
  • Hi all

    I am new to the boards and think I have found my dream car. I have never owned a car with such a small trunk before. I don't even think my little suitcase will fit in the trunk when I take the ferry over to the island.BUT.........

    I drive a Grand Am right now and have driven a golf back in University ( thanks DAD) and now want to move into a new car.

    I am phoning the dealer to check on the service record for this vehicle and then calling the bank. I have noted ( by reading this board) that there are several of you who have had some super dooper problems with your convertibles. Are these problems appearing with the 2004 models? This car has been driven ( 10 thousand KM) and I would be the second owner?

    Any reccomendations?
    Should I get the extended warranty?
    What else should I ask about the car?

  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    Dear dissatisfied VW owner,

    To save any heartache in your future automotive purchases, I offer you this advice (given to me by my father):

    "Never purchase a vehicle during the first couple of production years - let the manufacturers work the bugs out"

    To do otherwise would be to volunteer as a beta tester for the automotive industry - I don't care if it's a VW, Honda, Toyota, Lawn Tractor, Moped, whatever - ALL cars will have some bugs the first couple of production years. Don't take my word for it - read the other forums.

    I buy my cars near the end of the production cycle, after the manufacturers have had ample time to work out the bugs. Case in point - I currently own 3 VWs - 1997 Jetta ( 134K, No problems), 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta ( 47K, No problems), 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T (29K, No problems).

    The advice given above applies to any brand of automobile, truck, etc.

    I wish you the best of luck in whatever new brand you purchase, but remember - caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), especially if you're considering buying a new car in its first production year.

    For those who do, I have this saying from my parents: "Those who won't hear, must feel..."

    I sincerely hope your next purchase works out better for you.
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Posts: 457
    Another reason to wait a few years into the production cycle is:

    When the model first comes out it will sell at list price (or more). Remember people paying $5000 over MSRP for a 98 Beetle ?

    If you wait a few years then you get incentives like rebates and low interest loans etc.
  • Can anyone tell me if VW is manufacturing an updated version of the 2002 Beetle Turbo S? I am coming off a lease of a 2002 Reflex Silver one this week. Three years ago when I first laid eyes on and test drove my "silver bullet" I was HOOKED! I figured it was the closest thing to a Porsche I'd ever be able to afford. I was never disapointed, all of the detail on this car was spot on.
    Being the knucklehead that I am, I purchased the VW performance exhaust shortly after I brought it home. The love affair just kept getting better, my ride now had a perfect throaty rumble when progressing through all of those six gears. For the last three years the car has be relatively trouble free, just a few minor sensor issues and a minor recall. I also experienced the infamous plastic window clip issue that has plagued Beetles & Jettas from the beginning. With the replaced aluminum clips it's a thing of the past. I just know I'm going to miss this little butt kicker.
    I will especially miss pulling side by side to one of those Japanese tin cans with a muffler the size of a stove pipe and riding two inches off the ground, dropping the Bullet into 3rd, slowly pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor only to have the exhuast Growl in objection and then the turbo kicks and all 185 horses pull in unison and launch past those poor unsuspecting fools. I sure am going to miss watching their grimaces in my rear view mirror. :surprise: I will also miss how nicely it handled on twisty back roads too.
    Good bye little Silver Bullet we will all miss you. Much happiness to you and your new home. It literally has been a fun ride. :cry:
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