VW Touareg (1st Generation): What Goes Wrong?

The first-generation Volkswagen Touareg was a commendable effort by Volkswagen to venture into the luxury SUV market.

With its handsome design, luxurious interiors, and advanced features, it made quite an impression.

However, as with many first attempts, it was not without its issues. In fact, if you’d like a first-hand account of what can go wrong on a first gen VW Touareg, then read my story here that chronicles the various issues I’ve had with my Touareg (that are still ongoing).

Let’s delve into some of the most common problems faced by owners of the first-generation VW Touareg.


This is not an exhaustive list of everything that can go wrong on a first generation VW Touareg. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that these issues will crop up either – many owners liken the VW Touareg ownership experience to being a “crapshoot” in terms of reliability and mechanical problems.

Ultimately, the Touareg is a complex, ageing luxury vehicle and there are a lot of components that can and do fail, and which are typically more expensive than your average Japanese or American car to fix.

Make sure that you read our comprehensive Touareg buyer’s guide for more info on how to pick the best possible example that is the least likely to go wrong.

1st Generation VW Touareg – Common Issues

Here’s a quick list of the most commonly-reported issues on the VW Touareg:

  • Just about everything, particularly on the earlier cars

In all seriousness, the Touareg is fairly notorious for being unreliable. It’s a superb truck (particularly with the higher specification models with V8 petrol or V10 TDI engines) with immense capability and excellent comfort and luxury features, but be prepared to cough up big time for repairs – even if you’re a skilled DIY mechanic as parts are expensive.

There are certain issues that are more common than others as well: 

1. Electrical Issues:

  • Infotainment Glitches: Owners frequently reported problems related to the infotainment system. The system occasionally froze, had poor response times, or simply malfunctioned.
  • Instrument Cluster Failures: Some Touaregs had issues with instrument cluster displays going blank, causing inconvenience and potential safety hazards.

2. Drivetrain and Transmission Problems:

  • Premature Transfer Case Failures: Some Touaregs experienced premature wear or failures of the transfer case, leading to costly repairs. The ‘stepper motor’ in the transfer case is prone to failure as well.
  • Transmission Hiccups: There were occasional complaints about rough shifting, especially in the 2004 and 2005 models. 

3. Air Suspension Woes: One of the innovative features of the first-gen Touareg was its adjustable air suspension (available on some models – more basic examples had conventional suspension). Despite the Touareg’s air suspension generally being seen as a more reliable example of the technology, it could still be prone to:

  • Leakages: The air suspension system was prone to leaks, causing the vehicle to sag or lose its ability to adjust ride height.
  • Pump Failures: In some cases, the air suspension pump failed, leading to expensive replacements.

4. Brake Wear: For a vehicle of its size, the Touareg required robust braking. However:

  • Premature Wear: Several owners reported premature brake wear, necessitating more frequent than usual replacements. As a side note, tires tend to wear quickly on the Touareg as well. 
  • Expensive Replacements: When it was time for a change, the brake components, especially for the V10 TDI, came with a hefty price tag.

5. Fuel System Issues (Particularly with the TDI variants):

  • Fuel Pump Failures: Some TDI models experienced fuel pump failures, leading to engine stalling or complete engine failures in extreme cases.
  • Fuel Straight Run (FSR) Issues: Diesel models sometimes faced issues with the FSR, leading to reduced engine performance.

6. Propshaft Bearing Failures: Several owners noted failures related to the Touareg’s center propshaft bearing. This led to vibrations and, if left unaddressed, more significant drivetrain problems.


While the first-generation Volkswagen Touareg was packed with innovations and luxury features, it wasn’t without its set of challenges. The myriad of issues, particularly in the early years, reflected the growing pains of a new venture into the luxury SUV segment.

Nonetheless, for many, the appeal of the Touareg’s capabilities, design, and features outweighed the potential risks. As with any vehicle purchase, prospective buyers are encouraged to do their research, seek vehicles with documented service histories, and be prepared for the quirks that come with the territory.


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

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