Why Do VW's Ignition Coils Keep Failing?

VW ignition coils are failing, leading to the engine shaking, hesitating, and stalling. What's causing the issue?

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It's stall the rage

Ignition coils produce a high-voltage current that fires the spark plugs. If a coil fails, like in the case of many VW engines, the spark plug won’t fire and the engine will lose power. This can lead to shaking or hesitation and leave the driver in a vulnerable position.

What is the Ignition Coil?

The ignition coil provides spark for the spark plugs. Without the coils voltage-amplifying feature – where it converts battery voltage into the required electrical energy – the spark plug just becomes plug.

In older cars, there is one ignition coils that sends the spark to a distributer, which then sends the spark to the waiting spark plug. Newer Volkswagen cars, however, there is one ignition coil for every spark plug which opens up the possibility of more coil failure

VWs with Ignition Coil Complaints
Make Model Years
Volkswagen Passat 2002 /  2003 /  2004
  Tiguan 2012

Symptoms of a Faulty Ignition Coil

Potential problems from a faulty or failing ignition coil are: startup issues, loud engine cranks, backfires, stalling, engine hesitation, decreased fuel economy, increased emissions or engine fires! Engine problems are always dangerous and can leave driver’s in a vulnerable position.

NHTSA Investigation on VW Ignition Coils

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary evaluation on failing ignition coils in Volkswagen engines. According to the Wheels Blog at NY Times, the investigation is focusing on almost 200,000 2002-2003 VW Passats, depending on the results this could open into a full-sledged defect investigation.

On the Record

“I bought VW Golf 6 TSI Highline and in less than 5 months the ignition coil failed twice, what a pain in the ass. Can VW really do something about these engines?”

2010 Golf Owner in Midrand, South Africa

“While the problem occurred outside of the warranty period, I would maintain that this was the result of a defective part not normal wear and tear--Have never experienced this problem in the past.”

2011 Tiguan Owner in Liverpool, NY

“We had to replace the ignition coils in the famous recall 2003/2004 and now 5 years later, 2 of the 4 coils failed suddenly and we need to replace all 4 (for $800).”

2002 Passat Owner in Waltham, MA

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

Below are a handful of steps you can take to make sure this problem gets the attention it needs.

  1. File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify the Center for Auto Safety

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Spread the Word

    Social media is all the rage these days. And for good reason – it can help spread a message quickly. So get out there and start spreading this page.