2021 Volkswagen Jetta Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Air bags and engine issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2021 VW Jetta provides some luxury touches at an affordable price. The automaker claims this popular model “can help you stay out of trouble,” but what if the vehicle itself is the trouble? With faulty air bags, a defective engine and a poorly-made structure, customers have a lot to complain about.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Seat Belts
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Electrical System
Lane Departure: Assist
Lane Departure: Warning

Problems with the Air Bags

If the Jetta is keeping people out of trouble, the air bags should work as designed. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, according to real drivers.

Just take this NHTSA complaint as an example. “The contact owns a 2021 Volkswagen Jetta. The contact stated that the air bag warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was diagnosed with needing the air bag control module replaced. The vehicle was not yet repaired.”

On top of that, there is an air bag-related recall worth mentioning. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V492000 states that the air bag control module might not be positioned properly, causing the air bags to deploy the wrong way when a crash occurs. It turns out that the factory welded the module in the wrong position because VW is so concerned about safety.

Problems with the Engine

The Jetta can provide a good amount of power, but the reliability of the engine is up for debate. It doesn’t seem to provide the feel and dependability one would expect from a new vehicle.

One Edmunds review reads, “My car has less than 300 miles on it and it is a month old.  I’ve noticed that each time I accelerate onto a highway or high speed roadway- there is a weird noise that emanates from the engine between 25-30 MPH that last for a few seconds- metal on metal type of sound.”

Of course, there’s not much that can be expected from an automaker that can’t even get the simple rear view camera right. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V716000 talks about how the rear view camera malfunctions, leading to a black or frozen screen on the infotainment system. Without the right image showing up, an accident is much more likely, further proving that the Jetta is leading to the trouble instead of preventing it.

Problems with the Structure

How well is the VW Jetta made? According to current drivers, it doesn’t seem the manufacturer put a lot of TLC into the design and production.

This Edmunds review states, “Another thing I noticed is how cheap everything feels inside the car, don’t get me wrong it has great safety features inside, but it feels very plasticy and cheap. It is not a car I feel safe in or feel is reliable. It is not a smooth drive at all! I am so glad this is only a rental car because I would have regretted actually buying this car very much.”

There’s another recall showing the lack of attention during manufacturing. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V038000 says that there are vital bolts missing from some front seat tracks. Without these bolts, the seats can move around unrestricted, leading to an injury during an accident. Furthermore, the Jetta has been the subject of some class-action lawsuits. It turns out that numerous vehicles, including the Jetta, have been shipped out with leaking panoramic sunroofs. So, on top of having all of the annoying defects, customers also have to deal with being rained on during a commute to further add insult to injury.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes VW pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryService Brakes
DateNov 25, 2022
Recently had the rear brake pads replaced at appx 30,000 miles under normal driving conditions. (suburban driving, no towing or any driving behavior that would accelerate excessive/irregular wear). Significantly, during the 5/5/2022 20,000 mile oil change the dealer noted the following:, "rear pads and rotors pads down to 2 on inner" the vehicle is equipped with a 6 speed manual transmission and standard electronic parking brake. Volkswagen customer service was contacted and responded that brakes were not covered under warranty.
CategoryService Brakes
DateOct 23, 2022
Brake pedal sunk to floor. No brakes at all. Vehicle being brought to vw dealership10/24/ 2022. No warning /lamps, or indications of brake problem.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
DateSep 27, 2022
The contact owns a 2021 volkswagen jetta. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the cruise control intermittently deactivated. The dealer was made aware of the failure; however, the vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and advised the contact to take the vehicle to the dealer for assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 14,000.
CategorySeat Belts, Unknown Or Other
DateAug 22, 2022
I have noticed an issue with how easily the rear, passenger-side seatbelt is able to be clicked into the buckle. Initially when I got the car, passengers using that seatbelt did not seem to have any issue with easily clicking the seatbelt into the buckle. More recently, it seems my passengers using that seatbelt have a more difficult time clicking it into the buckle because the buckle seems to go down into the cushion when they put pressure on it. Passengers now have to hold the buckle in place while clicking it in. The only thing I can think of that could explain this change in how easily the seat belt can be clicked in could be that I put the seats down at one point using the pull lever in the trunk. I'm not sure this "ease of use" issue was the result of putting down the seats at one point but it's what comes to mind. This does not seem to affect the seat belt in terms of it being securely connected to the car, it only seems to affect how easily someone is able to click it into the buckle. People now seem to need to use two hands to click it in versus being able to do it with one hand.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateAug 08, 2022
This model jetta seems to have an issue with the rear license plate mount. The rear license plate mount sandwiches the license plate between a plastic piece attached to the vehicle body and a plastic piece with branding specific to the dealership. The issue I have is when I unscrewed them to remove the top, plastic piece. After I tried to rescrew it without the top piece, it seemed like the screw holes were already stripped. Many people don't want to provide free advertising for the dealership and may attempt to remove the top, plastic piece this way. For safety purposes, you should be able to unscrew and re-screw them without stripping the screw holes.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateJun 16, 2022
The car suddenly warned and stopped abruptly while we were traveling over a steel plate on the road. There were no other hazards in the road and no other cars in front of us in our lane (there were cars oncoming in the opposite traffic lane, but none had crossed over into ours). While we were impressed by how quickly and effectively the car stopped, we are concerned that the car may have deemed the steel plate to be another car or other road hazard. Had the person behind us been traveling too closely or at a higher speed, we could have been rear-ended. In this scenario we were ok, but had this steel plate been on a freeway it could have caused a serious accident.
CategoryElectrical System, Lane Departure: Assist, Lane Departure: Warning
DateMar 22, 2022
When I started the car an alert came on the said the door there was a driver door contact switch error. When I was trying to back up the emergency brake came on. The door was closed. There was an electric parking break error. Also a start stop error. When trying to go forward the parking brake kept coming on. I was going 10 mph and the e brake engaged and would not let me out unless I turned off the car and turned it back on. When I brought it to the dealership they ran tests on it and they said it was the door wiring harness. There is problem with it and it is not safe to drive. When driving around corners it also has a tendency to want to depart you from the lane. It will try to kick you out of the lane even if you are in the middle of the lane. It has done this around corners and when driving straight. It caused my sister to be driven off the road. This has been brought to the dealerships attention and they found a problem with the lane departure and told me that they could fix it and then they came right back and told me that there was nothing wrong with the car.
CategoryPower Train, Steering, Suspension
DateMar 02, 2022
1. It's not stable to drive in highway. Problem starts at around 55mph. 2. When I stop in traffic light suddenly rpm goes up and car jumps forward. It happened several times. The car was warm and in drive mode. I'm sure it shouldn't do this. Now when I stop in traffic light and pedestrian crossing in front of me, every time I put it to neutral and hold brake, in other ways just holding brake sometimes can not stop the car. If someone calls me I give more details.
DateFeb 10, 2022
The contact owns a 2021 volkswagen jetta. The contact stated that while reversing at an undisclosed speed, the vehicle lost motive power. The check engine warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired by an independent mechanic or dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 4,000.
CategorySeat Belts, Seats
DateDec 08, 2021
The contact owns a 2021 volkswagen jetta. The contact stated that the passenger's side seat failed to adjust. The contact stated that his wife was unable to utilize the passenger's side seat and seat belt in a safe manner. The contact called the local dealer and was informed that the vehicle was designed that way. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 1,900.
CategoryAir Bags
DateSep 29, 2021
The contact owns a 2021 volkswagen jetta. The contact received notification of nhtsa campaign number: 21v492000 (air bags) however, the part to do the recall repair was not yet available. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. Vin tool confirms parts are not available.
DateJun 28, 2021
I've owned my car for 3 weeks and have driven it ~10 times in total. On 2 different occasions (most recently yesterday), it has stalled out while standing in traffic. On both occasions, it was a "soft stall" just as a vehicle with auto on/off would have. I had no warning lights, and wasn't even aware that the car had stalled until I put it in gear and began to let the clutch out, at which point I discovered that the engine was off.
CategoryAir Bags: Air Bag/restraint Control Module
DateJun 07, 2021
The contact owns a 2021 volkswagen jetta. The contact stated that the air bag warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was diagnosed with needing the air bag control module replaced. The vehicle was not yet repaired. The manufacturer was not informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 60.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateMay 04, 2021
Conflicting torque spec is listed for the wheel bolts. The owner's manual (17a012723sf) specifies 120 nm, but I see a odi tsbs (https://static. Nhtsa. Gov/odi/tsbs/2020/mc-10183302-0001. Pdf) that indicates the torque spec is 140 nm. That is a large discrepancy.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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