Volkswagen supplies a trunk-mounted warning triangle in every vehicle they sell in Europe, from Lupo to Phaeton. For some unknown reason (maybe just to save a few dollars?), VW of America has asked that warning triangles be deleted from all cars imported to North America. How the product safety people and the liability lawyers at VW of A justify this decision, I don’t know – perhaps they are too busy writing silly text in the owner’s manuals (Caution: Remove your head and neck from the door frame area before closing the door, otherwise, death or serious injury may occur!) , or thinking up new ways to annoy us with acceptance messages on the infotainment system.
Anyway – I think the warning triangle is a great safety device. You don’t even have to remove it from the holder and set it up. If you simply open your trunk lid, the warning triangle is presented perpendicular to oncoming traffic, and can easily be seen from a mile or more away at night. So, my first project with the new Phaeton was to install a warning triangle. This post is a step by step guide for others who may want to install one. On a difficulty scale measured from 1 to 10, this project is a 1. It took me 20 minutes to do it, and that included the time spent taking the pictures.
As a matter of principle, I only install genuine VW parts on my car. I asked the parts manager at my VW dealer here in Canada (VW Richmond Hill) if he could get me the parts I needed, and he gave me his usual answer – “Sure, no problem.” 4 days later, he called me to tell me all the parts had arrived.
To complete this project, you will need the following parts, which are shown in the illustration below:
One warning triangle, 4B5 860 251C Item 3 in the illustration
One Warning Triangle attachment bracket, 3B5 860 285B Item 1 in the illustration
Two plastic nut inserts, 811 807 577C Item 5 in the illustration
Two screws, N 907 397 01 Item 2 in the illustration
You do not need the wing screw that is item 4 in the illustration. If you order the attachment bracket (item 1), it includes the wing screw. Total cost of these parts will probably be about USD $75.- The triangle is the most expensive item, next is the attachment bracket, the two nut inserts and screws are pennies.
You will also need the following tools:
A number 20 Torx screwdriver
A sturdy utility knife (one intended for cutting drywall is perfect)
A small pair of pliers
The installation process is pretty simple. You remove the inner liner of the trunk lid, cut two small parts out (there are score lines on the back of the inner liner to show you exactly where to cut), then you put the nut inserts in place, put the liner back in place, put the two screws in, and that’s it, you are done.
Here are the step by step instructions:
1) Remove the trim strip that runs across the bottom of the trunk lid.
This trim strip is held in place by 4 metal expansion clips. Just get your fingers around the edge of it, and pull it off. It is designed to be removed and replaced, because it is necessary to remove the trunk lid liner to replace the bulbs for the backup lights.
Remove this trim strip first.
The picture below shows the opposite side of the above trip strip, where the expansion clips are, this will help you figure out where to grab and pull. In theory, you need a special VW tool to do this (VW Trim Removal Pliers 3392), in practice, if you have small fingers, you can just pull it off.
This shows you where the expansion clips are on the strip pictured above.
2) If you have the hydraulic servo operated trunk lid mechanism (option code 4E7), then you will need to disconnect the electrical connector for the pushbutton. This is easy to do, but you might want to have a magnifying glass available to have a close look at the electrical connector – this makes it much simpler to find the unlocking tab on the connector if you don’t know where it is.
3) Next, using the Torx 20 screwdriver, remove the screw that is installed in the hand-hold used to pull the trunk lid closed – this is on the right hand side of the trunk only. The Bentley Repair Manual on CD for the Phaeton shows two screws, one on each side, but this is incorrect. All North American Phaetons are equipped with the “New Jersey escape handle” on the left hand side – so there is only one screw to remove, that is on the right hand side.
Error in VW North America (Robert Bentley) Service CD – this shows a European car.
Close-up of the Torx 20 screw in the right grip handle.
4) Now pull the trunk lid liner away from the trunk lid. It is attached with a series of expansion clips, the same as the trim strip you removed in step 1. Begin pulling the liner away at the front (forward) edge of the trunk lid, then work up the sides, then finally remove it at the aft (bottom rear) edge of the trunk lid. Doing it in this order makes it easier to manoeuvre the little bulge for the right grip handle out of the metal pocket it fits into.
This photo shows one of the expansion clips on the trunk lid liner itself. There are about a dozen of them around the edge of the trunk lid liner.
Don’t let the trunk lid drop down after you have loosened all the expansion clips, because you still have one more electrical connector to remove.
Power cable to the New Jersey escape handle
5) Now disconnect the electrical connector from the escape handle. To do this, just grasp the connector with a pair of pliers, and pull it straight up. There is no locking mechanism on the connector.
6) After you have done this, you can bring the trunk lid liner inside your house.
The easy way to remove the Microswitch from the New Jersey escape handle.
7) When you look at the inside (top) portion of the trunk lid liner, it will be quite obvious where you need to cut two openings to allow you to fit the warning triangle holder. There are quite clear and very precise score marks on the inside of the liner. Simply cut out two openings along the score marks. It is best to use a fairly stiff knife for this (such as a drywall knife), a box cutter or other knife that has a flexible, snap-off type blade is not suited to cutting through the stiff material the trunk lid liner is made from.
Where to cut the holes. Follow the score marks exactly.
After you have cut the holes, the lower surface of the trunk lid liner (the portion you see when it is in place) will look like this:
Trunk lid liner (normally exposed side) after cutting the two holes
9) This is very important – don’t skip this inspection! Before you go any further, take the two screws that you have (part number N 907 397 01) and measure their length. They should be about 21 mm long. Now, take one of the screws (we’ll assume you have checked that they are both the same length) and insert it, with your finger, into the hole where you will eventually be putting the nut insert. You want to check to ensure that the screw will not ever touch the top surface of the trunk lid. Think about this for a moment – if some poor guy at the warehouse dropped two screws of the wrong length into the bag, and you just torqued them in without checking their length first, you would create a pimple right in the middle of your trunk lid – and that would cost you about $1,000 at the body shop to fix. (BTW, thanks to the techs at my dealership for teaching me this.)
Correct length of screw – but check it by hand-fitting it into the hole where the nut insert goes, before you put the nut insert in place
9) Now install the two nut inserts, part number 811 807 577C, in the two square holes that are exactly in the middle of your trunk lid. They just push into place.
Nut Insert location – before (right side) and after (left side)
10) Now put the trunk lid liner back in place. The easy way to do this is in the following sequence:
a – Insert the Microswitch back into the escape handle.
b – Navigate the trunk lid liner into place, first fitting the grab handle (where the screw came out of) into its pocket in the trunk lid.
c – Start thumping the expansion clips into place at the forward (front) edge of the trunk lid, then work up the sides, finally, do the back edge, where the latch is.
If you have a hydraulic servo operated trunk lid mechanism, before you start thumping the expansion clips back into their holes, make sure that the electrical wire for the trunk lid closing switch is in the correct place – otherwise, you’ll just have to remove the whole lid liner again to go fishing for the connector.
11) Re-install the screw in the grab handle. Don’t mix it up with the two screws you will use to hold the triangle holder in place – the grab handle screw is bigger than the other two.
12) Insert the triangle holder into the two holes you just cut in the trunk lid liner. Note the hook on the top of the triangle holder – it hooks behind the metal trunk lid itself, not just the trunk lid liner. Now install the two screws (part number N 907 397 01) into the two holes at the bottom of the triangle holder. Finally, install the triangle, and close up the flap on the holder.
Installing the Triangle Holder
Triangle installed in the holder
What it looks like from a distance at night
This is a very simple modification to make, in fact, it is the ideal project to undertake if you are new to making European modifications to your VW. You won't even get your hands dirty.