If you are interested in buying a Volkswagen Jetta, you first need to educate yourself about all the potential issues a Jetta tends to suffer from. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as we will discuss the most common problems of a Volkswagen Jetta in this article. Before we dwell deeper into what makes a Jetta tick, we will first offer you a short answer.
2011 and post-2011 Volkswagen Jetta models are known to experience issues with the electrical systems, the powertrain, the airbags, the seats, the seatbelts, the brakes, the fuel system, and the steering while also suffering from specific quality control issues.
Now it’s time to go in-depth about all the most common problems of a Volkswagen Jetta. We will focus on models made from 2011 onwards and offer you a broad understanding of what you need to look out for if you are in the market for a Volkswagen Jetta.
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Various Electrical Issues Are Common Across All Model Years
Probably the most complained about aspects of the Mexican-made, American-sold Volkswagen Jetta fall into the electronics category. These issues include a whole host of problems, some of which were also why Volkswagen recalled quite a few Jetta models throughout the years.
The 2011-2014 Jetta seems prone to issues where the key becomes stuck in the ignition, and you can’t get it out. Many owners complained that there are numerous key and ignition-related problems with the Jetta where you can’t take the key in and out, you can’t turn on the car, or you can take out the key when that should not be allowed.
The latter problem even prompted VW to recall the Jetta in August 2019 (19V615000), as taking out the key while the car was not in Park could unintentionally cause it to roll away. VW issued another recall in November of 2018 (18V824000) because an audible signal did not notify the driver that the key was left in the ignition.
Issues With The Radio
We also need to mention issues related to the radio system, which is prone to dying without an apparent reason, even on pretty low-mileage examples. This issue can be fixed by either rebooting the system, which can be done by pressing and holding the power button for about a minute, or trying to locate the ground and see if everything is connected correctly.
The Volkswagen Jetta also has a fair bit of airbag-related problems, some of which are solely electrical, while others are a combination of various other systems, including the electrics. Airbag issues range from being unable to deploy, illuminating airbag off lights for no apparent reason, and defective airbag electric control modules.
There are also numerous other airbag/electrical issues, but these are the most common ones. We also need to mention that VW issued a few recalls due to airbag-related problems, and these go like this:
- 15V483000: Volkswagen recalled the Jetta in August 2015 due to a loss of electrical connection to the frontal airbags.
- 16V078000: Volkswagen recalled the Jetta in February 2016 due to excessive pressure that can cause injuries or even death.
- 15V627000: Volkswagen recalled the Jetta in October 2015 due to incorrectly classed frontal airbags.
- 19V110000: Volkswagen recalled the Jetta in February 2019 due to issues resulting in the airbag not deploying when necessary.
- 21V492000: Volkswagen recalled the Jetta in June of 2021 due to the airbags failing to deploy when necessary or even deploying improperly.
Powertrain issues are common in many Jetta generations; some of these issues prompted VW to recall the Jetta, while others were fixed without needing a recall. These include grinding noises while driving, loss of acceleration, transmission issues, issues with the water pump, problems with the turbocharger exploding, and engine knocking.
Grinding Noises While Driving
Likely the most common engine-related issue with the Jetta is associated with the car emitting grinding noises while driving. This issue can be resolved in two different ways, depending on what is precisely wrong. A few owners said this was due to small metal particles finding their way into the oil gasket pan.
Others have said this is primarily due to transmission issues, which is likely the more common culprit. Even though VW often said that this issue is normal, it certainly isn’t, as it makes the car sound like a tractor.
Water Pump Issues
If you come across water puddles underneath your car, low coolant levels, or your car tends to overheat; your water pump is to blame. These issues can be caused by a whole host of problems, such as dry rotation, improper seals, bad coolant, or even serpentine belt issues. Volkswagen also issued a recall due to the water pump causing timing belt failures back in March 2014 (14E007000).
Transmission issues are common across all Jetta generations; some are more serious than others. For starters, the shims within the transmission are known to break and can cause the entire transmission to fail. Transmission fluid can also start leaking and come in contact with nearby hot surfaces, causing the car to burst into flames. This very reason caused a large recall back in April of 2014 (14V182000)
Fuel System Issues
Whether a fuel leak or a fuel pump failure, fuel system-related issues are common across all Jetta models, especially earlier ones. Some owners also complained about issues with the fuel cap and other relatively minor issues.
Failed Fuel Pump
A failed high-pressure fuel pump is known to happen in various generations of the Volkswagen Jetta. These can typically be noticed due to excessive whining sounds, the car sputtering under acceleration, failing to start, or even stalling. The only effective way to fix this issue is to replace the fuel pump.
Fuel leaks are both dangerous and common with the Volkswagen Jetta, both with gasoline and diesel models. These can cause many issues, and some can lead to the car bursting into flames. According to a statement made by VW, “bolts holding some high-pressure tubing can come loose over time, allowing fuel to leak and increasing the risk of a fire”. Because of this, VW prompted a recall, but two other recalls associated with the same problem happened almost 5-8 years earlier. These go as follows:
- 11V490000: Volkswagen recalled diesel-powered Jetta models back in October 2012 made between 2010-2012 due to increased stress on the fuel line, resulting in diesel fuel leaks.
- 15V028000: Volkswagen recalled gasoline-powered Jetta models in January 2015 due to a faulty sealing fuel cap.
- 20V648000: Volkswagen recalled gasoline-powered Jetta models in October 2020 due to faulty fuel rail bolts, which may loosen and cause a leak.
Many Volkswagen models are known for steering system clock spring failures which can throw off many other associated systems such as the airbags or your steering wheel controls. If your airbag light comes on and the multifunction steering wheel button fails, chances are that your clock springs are to blame. Besides these, we also need to mention issues associated with the power steering system.
Also, certain owners complained about newer Jetta models pulling to one side or the other while driving on the highway. These issues are likely caused by improper wheel alignment, a bent wheel hub, or potential issues with suspension components.
Issues With The Brakes
It seems like many newer VW Jetta models suffer from brake-related issues; some of them even resulted in large class-action lawsuits against Volkswagen. The problem causes the car to brake randomly and thus can cause you to crash. Some owners complained about the emergency/parking brake button falling off and thus rendering the parking brake completely useless.
One owner of a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta stated that he had serious issues with the brake pedal where even a fully depressed pedal didn’t cause the car to decelerate. Some 2019 Volkswagen Jetta owners said they had to replace the brake rotors early on as they tend to warp if they experience higher temperatures.
Other reported brake system issues are mostly niggles and minor issues, such as an increased amount of squealing noises or an inconsistent brake pedal feel. However, Volkswagen did recall the Jetta twice due to brake system-related issues:
- 20V359000: Volkswagen issued a recall for specific Volkswagen Jetta models back in June 2020 due to a brake caliper bolt prone to coming loose and thus affecting the car’s braking performance substantially.
- 20E064000: Volkswagen issued a recall for specific Volkswagen Jetta models back in September 2020 due to a faulty master cylinder sealant which can leak brake fluid and low brake fluid can cause the brakes to slip and increase the chance of having an accident.
Quality Control And Equipment Issues
We also need to mention that many people complain about numerous quality control issues associated with newer and older Volkswagen Jetta models. These include so-called phantom issues in which the car suffers from a specific electrical issue for a short while, and later it does not. This is highly stressful as you never know when and if it will happen.
One owner of a 2019 Volkswagen Jetta complained about the optional Beats upgraded audio. The problem is that the speakers are prone to distorting even at 50% of the volume, which is unfortunate as these optional sound systems are not cheap. However, VW dealers said this issue is caused by a powerful stereo head unit and relatively weak speakers.
One of the worst quality issues people seem to be experiencing with predominantly newer VW Jetta models is one where the sunroof shatters for no apparent reason. This can be a huge safety hazard as it tends to happen without prior warnings and has even caused a few accidents.
Issues With Seats And Seatbelts
There are multiple complaints about the seats being stuck in position and refusing to move front to back. Moreover, many owners complained about the seatbelt receiver refusing to buckle in, thus becoming useless.
To top it all off, there are many reports that newer Volkswagen Jetta models suffer from poor welds across the entire construction of the seats, some of which resulted in the Jetta being recalled a few times. As such, we will also list all the recalls associated with seats and seatbelts. These are:
- 14V670000: Volkswagen issued a recall for specific Volkswagen Jetta models in October 2014 due to the driver’s seat not being fastened correctly. This can cause the seat to move without any warning and thus distract the driver.
- 20V505000: Volkswagen issued a recall for 2020-2021 Jetta models due to improper seat backrest welds that were prone to breaking in the event of an accident and thus increasing 1the chances of neck injuries.
- 21V038000: Volkswagen issued a recall for a few dozen 2021 Jetta models due to bolts missing from the driver’s seat.
Marko´s interest in cars runs in the family. His father was a car trader and regularly took him to car dealerships when he was younger.
These days, when he isn´t watching Drivetribe or Doug DeMuro videos, he´s building up quite a resume as an automotive writer since he´s also a regular contributor on Cararc.com, Tirehungry.com, and Luxurycarsa2z.com.