Windshield wiper blade on any car (or aircraft) usually deteriorate due to exposure to sunlight and ozone in the atmosphere long before they wear out from abrasion against the windshield. Typically, a blade will last between 6 and 12 months before substandard wiping performance is evident. If the blade is older than 12 months, performance will be substantially worse than what it was when the blade was new.
There are two possible ways to refresh the windshield wiper blades on a Phaeton: One way is to purchase and install a complete replacement wiper, and the other way is to replace the rubber blade only. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
Replacing the Entire Wiper Assembly
– It’s really quick and easy to do, takes about 30 seconds per side.
– It can be done by your VW dealer when your Phaeton is in for service, or, you can do it yourself, no tools are needed.
– $60 cost for two new wiper assemblies.
– Some dealerships may charge to install the blades (typically 1/10th of an hour labour).
Replacing the Blade Only
– $6 cost for two new wiper blades.
– It’s a simple job to do, no special tools or skills are needed, and it’s kind of fun to do it.
– It takes about 20 minutes to do the work – maybe a bit longer the first time you do it.
– You need to do it yourself. In theory, you could ask your VW dealer to do it for you, but the labour charge would negate the savings on the parts purchase.
– You need to do a bit of hunting around to find an exact match for the blade.
- Edit added January 14, 2006 after driving for 6 weeks with replacement blade inserts: The replacement inserts don't work as well as replacing the whole wiper blade with an original VW part. See my comments at the top of page 2 of this thread.
This post provides instructions for either method.
If you want to replace the blades only, rather than the entire wiper assembly, it is essential that you purchase a replacement blade that has exactly the same profile as the original blade. After a few unsuccessful forays to Wal-Mart, I eventually found the correct replacement blade at an AutoZone store in David Cowan’s town. I purchased Trico blades – longer than what was recommended – an
Suitable Replacement Blade
This blade is longer than what is needed - you cut it to size.
1 – Put the wipers in the ‘wiper change’ position, using the control on the infotainment console. This will move the two wiper arms up into the fully extended position. If you try and lift the wiper arms when they are in the usual parked position, you will scratch the paint on the trailing edge of the hood - and, you won't be able to lift the blades up high enough to rotate them and remove the blade from the wiper arm.
The control for moving the wiper blades to the maintenance position can be found within the commands available from the ‘VEHICLE’ button.
Maintenance Function Screen
Important Tech Tip: You can only operate the wiper arms from this maintenance screen if the wiper switch is in the OFF position.
If the wiper arms do not move when you press the button, it is because the wiper switch is still in the 'intermittent wipe' position,
because you left it there the last time it was raining.
Wiper Changing Position
Note that the longer of the two blades goes on the driver side of the car.
2 – Lift the wiper blade away from the glass, rotate the blade about 45°, and pull it towards you. It will come off the wiper arm.
Removal is very simple and requires no tools or force
3 – Lower the wiper arm (now missing the blade) back down to the glass. Do not leave the wiper arm standing up away from the glass – if it decides to snap back, powered by the spring, it will crack the windshield! (Thanks, Chris, for this tip!)
4 – Take the blades to a workbench. Bring along a small pair of needle-nose pliers, and a very small slotted screwdriver or a dental tool.
5 – Grasp the rubber blade at each end of the assembly, and wiggle it back and forth. You will discover that the blade is attached firmly at one end, but loose at the other. You will be taking apart the end that the blade is attached firmly to.
6 – Pull the cap off the end of the blade that the wiper is attached firmly to. You might be able to do this with your fingers, or, perhaps you might have to use a pair of pliers, or pry the cap off by placing it against the edge of a workbench and pressing on it.
One way to remove the cap from the end
7 – Once the cap is off, you will see that there is a small metal tang that presses down into the wiper blade to hold it in place. Pry this tang upwards a little bit using a small screwdriver or a dental tool.
Before lifting the tang
After lifting the tang
8 – Slide the blade out from the assembly. If you encounter any difficulty removing the blade, immerse the whole assembly in a sink full of warm water and dish soap. This will lubricate the blade and allow it to come out easily.
Removing the old blade
9 – Cut the new blade to the exact size of the existing blade. The new blade might come with some metal strips and other accessory parts included. These metal strips and accessory parts can be discarded, they are not needed for cars manufactured by VW.
10 – Wash the track that the old blade was in using warm water, dish soap, and a toothbrush. This will clean dirt out of the track and make it easy to slide the new blade into the slot.
Cleaning the blade channel before installing the new blade
11 – Install the new blade. This normally requires a bit of tugging and wiggling. It is difficult to install the new blade if the channel is dry, but pretty easy to install it if everything has been wetted with water and dish soap, and you did a good job cleaning dust and dirt out of the channel. The first half of the new blade usually goes in easily, the second half requires a bit of fooling around. Be sure that when you are finished, there is no tension or compression on the blade. If the blade is compressed or under tension, it may not wipe satisfactorily when you reinstall it.
12 – Press the metal tang back (from step 7) down to lock the new blade in place.
13 – Install the cap on the end of the wiper. If it does not appear to snap on firmly, apply a tiny dab of cyanoacrylate glue (Crazy Glue) to the assembly, opposite the blade. Use half as much glue as you think you need – a little goes a long way.
If the tab was damaged during removal, you might need a drop of glue to hold the cap on.
14 – Put the blades back on the car. The longer of the two goes on the driver side.
I don't know how many times the blade can be replaced before it becomes necessary to replace the complete assembly. My guess is that eventually, the cap on the end will break, and that will necessitate purchasing a new assembly. In the meantime, for $6 and 20 minutes of work every 6 months, I can benefit from top wiper performance, without having to be worried about streaking caused by blade deterioration.