5 Volkswagen Cars With MOST Recalls (Check Before Buying)

We know Volkswagen cars for their great general performance, which includes durability and safety.

Once the top vehicle manufacturer by volume, the German brand is famous for its innovative spirit and classy models. It has different classes in its lineup which include SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, and pickups.

Even with such impressive attributes, Volkswagen has 1,064 recalls across all its models. This number takes up about 3% of all car recalls by the NHTSA. The European carmaker ranks 10tn on the list of recalls for any car make.

These are the Volkswagen models responsible for most of the recalls:

1. Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta is a mid-sized compact sedan that has been in production since 1979. It is a simple vehicle that delivers outstanding performance. One may say that the Jetta prioritizes affordability and modern technology over luxury or style relative to other cars.

The Jetta is now in its 7th generation and so far, has enjoyed wonderful success. Meanwhile, RepairPal rates the Jetta 4.0 out of 5.0 for reliability.

Number of Recalls

The Volkswagen Jetta has been recalled 161 times. It takes up 15.1% of the 1,064 recalls issued by Volkswagen. This is the highest percentage taken by any model.

The 2015 model year has 9 recalls and is the most recalled Jetta. A close 2nd is the 2011 model year with 8 recalls. Next are the 2019, 2009, and 1988 model years, which all have 7 recalls.

Meanwhile, the 2017, 2012, 2001 and 1999 models all have 6 recalls.

Eight model years all have 5 recalls. These models are the 2016, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2002, 1994, 1991, and 1990 models. They’ve also recalled eight models 4 times, namely the 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2000, 1995, 1993, and 1989 models.

The remaining model years have either 3, 2 or 1 recall (s).

For 3 recalls: 1987, 1985 and 1981 model years.

For 2 recalls: 2018, 2004, 2003, 1998, 1992, and 1986 model years.

For 1 recall: 1997, 1996, 1984, 1983, 1982, and 1980 model years.

We’ve explained the most common issues always leading to many of the recalls below:

  • Fuel system: Most fuel system problems usually involve fuel leaks, which occur because of fuel rail failure. Fuel rail failure causes fuel to leak to the engine compartment. Other times, the rail may come off from the cylinder head.

Other cases involve a sudden malfunction of the fuel pump. Electrical problems leading to overheating caused this.

  • Exterior lighting: This could develop a problem because of a variety of reasons. Incorrectly positioned headlights reduces visibility at night. The incorrectly positioned headlights violate FMVSS vehicle requirements.

The software programmed in the control module may also be incorrect. This can also cause inadequate lighting and violate vehicle requirements.

Other common problems involve

  • Hydraulics
  • Service brakes
  • Foundation components

Related: How Long Do Volkswagen Cars Last? 4 Models Checked (Examples)

2. Volkswagen Golf

This is one of the most popular Volkswagens in the market. Locals often consider the Volkswagen Golf a sports car because of its speed. It has been through eight generations and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in its sales.

About its performance, the Golf delivers in several aspects, not excluding comfort and efficiency. Its unique design is quite hard to miss. Also, its fuel efficiency is exceptional for those on budgets.

Number of Recalls

Volkswagen Golf has 135 recalls. This covers about 12.7% of all Volkswagen recalls. With such a high percentage, the Golf is the 2nd most recalled Volkswagen there is.

The 2015 Golf takes the cake with 15 recalls. It has the highest number of recalls for any single model year. The 2016 and 2017 model years follow up with 11 and 7 recalls, respectively. These 3 model years alone make up about 24.44% of all Golf recalls.

The 2018, 2012, and 2011 models have all been recalled 6 times each. Other noteworthy years include the 2014, 2013, 2010, 2001, 2000, 1988, and 1985 model years, with 5 recalls each. The following model years each has 4 recalls: 2019, 1999, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1990, and 1986.

The remaining recalls fall under 3, 2 or 1.

For 3 recalls: 2002, 1989, and 1987 model years

For 2 recalls: 2005, 2004, 2003, and 1991 model years

For 1 recall: 2006, 1998, 1996, and 1992 model years

These are the most common problems that contribute to most of the recalls:

  • Airbags: The airbags are at the risk of not deploying properly. A variety of reasons can cause this. The passenger occupant detection system may also have a flaw tracing back to production processes. This may prevent the front passenger from being detected, thus preventing the airbags from deploying. A contaminated airbag clock spring can prevent the airbag from deploying by cutting off electrical supply to the device. Internal pressure can damage the inflator as soon as the airbag deploys.
  • Fuel system: The suction pump may develop faults in the fuel tank and cause fuel to flow to the evaporative emissions system. The fuel may also leak because of the seals failing. Several instances of fuel spillage would inevitably cause fire outbreaks if an accident occurs.
  • Brakes: Insufficient coating may decrease the performance of the brakes. The Antilock brake system is at risk of failing when the electronic stability control is being activated. These can affect the brake’s performance.

Other problems are

  • Exterior lighting
  • Steering
  • Column lock

Related: 5 Audi Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

3. Volkswagen Passat

The Passat distinguishes itself from the previous cars on the list, with its larger size and much more luxurious interior. It also has a larger cargo space.

This may mean it’ll have a lower engine and tranny performance than other Volkswagen models.

It has also seen eight generations since production began in 1973.

Number of Recalls

For a car that has been in production for over 4 decades, the number of recalls seems less scary. The Passat is, however, still one of three Volkswagen models with over a hundred recalls.

It has 119 recalls, which is about 11.2% of all Volkswagen recalls. The 2012 model has 11 recalls. It is also the model year with the highest number of recalls. The 2014, 2013 and 2015 models have 10, 9 and 8 recalls, respectively.

The 2007, 2006, and 2003 models all have 6 recalls each. Whereas the 2017 and 1999 models have 5 recalls each. Other models with significant recalls are the 2016, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 1998 models, which all have 4 recalls each.

For 3 recalls: 2018, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000, and 1993 model years.

For 2 recalls: 2020 and 1990 model years.

For 1 recall: 2019, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1992, 1991, 1989, and 1988 model years.

The following are the major problems that lead to Passat recalls:

  • Fuel system: Components in the fuel system are the most recalled components in the Passat. VW built some models with fuel filters that may become difficult to seal after some time passes. Electrical power connection might fail, causing fuel pump to malfunction.
  • Airbag: The driver or passenger side airbag may be incorrect. Long-term exposure to humidity and high temperatures could cause propellant deterioration, which may lead to inflator explosion.

Other problems involve:

  • Hydraulics
  • Storage
  • Tank assembly

4. Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle, for several reasons, is a very popular car. Known primarily for its iconic shape and engine location, it’s also among the top most produced cars in the world.

The Beetle is an affordable car, which was the original aim of its production, anyway. It also has a nicely designed interior and decent engine performance.

Number of Recalls

The Volkswagen Beetle had 67 recalls. This makes up about 6.3% of all Volkswagen recalls. Although the Beetle has way fewer recalls than its siblings, we still consider it to have a lot of recalls.

The highest number of recalls for any model year is 6. The 2015, 2013, and 2012 models all have 6 recalls. This means they are the most recalled model years for the Beetle.

The 2014 model is next with 5 recalls, while the 2019 and 2016 models both have 4 recalls.

For 3 recalls: 2018, 2017, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005, and 2004 model years.

For 2 recalls: 2009, 2007, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 1998 model years.

For 1 recall: 2000, 1999 and 1977 model years.

These are the most frequent problems:

  • Exterior lighting: There may have been errors while installing the brake light switch. This can cause the lights to malfunction. Also, lenses were installed in an inverted position, violating federal standards.
  • Steering: Silicate may accumulate on the switch lever. This can allow the key to be removed from the ignition even when the transmission is not in park.

Other problems involve

  • Electrical system
  • Fuel system

5. Volkswagen GTI

The Volkswagen GTI is a hatchback manufactured to endure pretty long distances. Little wonder the GTI sports great engine performance and handling. However, these same features may be responsible for a less than ideal fuel economy.

Though the GTI doesn’t have as much recalls as the other cars on the list, it still has enough to make an appearance. Let’s see why.

Number of Recalls

The Volkswagen GTI has 65 recalls, which covers about 6.1% of all Volkswagen recalls. The model year with the highest number of recalls is the 2015 model with 7 recalls. For the 2016 model year, 4 recalls have been recorded.

Recalls for other model years are 3, 2 or 1.

For 3 recalls: 2018, 2009, 2000, and 1986 model years.

For 2 recalls: 2019, 2017, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2006, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1990, 1987, and 1985 model years..

For 1 recall: 2014, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1996, 1992, 1991, 1989, and 1988 model years.

The most frequent problems involve:

  • Exterior lighting: The required cap may not be installed, or the installed cap may disable vertical aiming screw.
  • Heater core: The end cap could rupture and allow hot coolant to escape.
  • Fuel system
  • Steering

Related: 9 Popular Cars With Great Ambient Lighting (With Pictures)

Additional Information

Another model that also has a substantial amount of recalls is the Volkswagen Rabbit, which has 49 recalls. Next to it are the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Volkswagen Scirocco, which have 45 and 44 recalls, respectively. The Volkswagen CC follows on the list with 40 recalls.

Final Thoughts

The 2015 model year appears to have the highest number of recalls across 3 different Volkswagen models. These models are the Jetta, Golf and the GTI.

The 2015 Beetle shares the number 1 spot with other model years. That being said, our data suggests that 2015 was a terrible year for Volkswagen.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.