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    Thread: Troubleshooting Noise from the Steering Column (up-down or in-out adjustment)

    1. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      09-12-2005 05:39 AM #1
      This post is a follow up to a comment that David Z. made , when he mentioned that the steering wheel in his Phaeton made a ‘groaning’ noise when he turned the car on or off, and the steering wheel moved up-down and in-out. Other Phaeton owners have occasionally mentioned this noise in the past. I have not had this problem with my Phaeton, however, while I was disassembling the steering column a few weeks ago to install the paddle shifters, I found what is causing this noise problem on other Phaetons.

      The steering column assembly is quite tightly shrouded. There is a spring-loaded shroud assembly that fits down and over the top of the steering column. You can see this assembly if you tilt the steering wheel down to the lowest possible position. I have identified it in the photo below with arrows. Please forgive the presence of the screwdriver in this photo – I took the photo for a different purpose, and I am in Africa now, there are no Phaetons here I can use to take another photo.

      Shroud Assembly

      The lower and side surfaces of this shroud have a felt tape attached to them, to enable the upper cover of the steering column to slide against the shroud without getting scratched up, and without making any noise. The felt tape is affixed to the shroud with a double-sided adhesive tape. In the photo below, you can just barely see the felt tape at the bottom of this shroud. You are not supposed to be able to see it if you have not disassembled the parts.

      Felt Tape on Lower Edge of Shroud

      For some unknown reason – possibly heat buildup in the car when it is parked outside on a warm, sunny summer day – the adhesive that holds the felt tape to the shroud is loosening up, and allowing the felt tape to peel off of the shroud. When this happens, you will either have direct contact between the shroud and the upper cover on the steering column, or, instead of the upper cover on the steering column rubbing (quietly) against the felt, it will rub (noisily) against the residual adhesive left behind after the felt strip gets displaced. Hence the groaning sound.

      In the pictures below, you can see that the felt strip has peeled away from quite large areas of the shroud on my car. When I noticed this, I thought it was abnormal, but because I was not encountering any problems, I just made a mental note to pick up a new roll of adhesive felt strip at my VW dealer, next time I was there, and replace the felt. I didn't think any more about it other than that.

      Note evidence of failure of the adhesive that holds the felt strip in place

      The fix for this problem should be pretty simple, although I am speculating about how it would be carried out, because I have not yet had a chance to do the job. But, here’s my speculation about how to fix this:

      Remove the two trim bezels that cover the stalks that protrude from the steering column. I have been unable to find instructions for this in the Phaeton Repair Manual, so, I have provided these photos. To remove these bezels, you need to twist the steering wheel around such that you have access to the single Torx bolt that holds the bezel in place.

      Removing the stalk trim bezel retaining screw
      It is NOT necessary to remove the airbag – I had it out for another, unrelated reason when I took this picture.

      The same procedure is followed on the other side.

      Loosening the bezel with the VW Trim Removal Tool

      If you know in advance where you should be poking at with the VW Trim Removal Tool, the job is much easier.

      Pop the tangs on the upper cover free from the lower cover clips they engage into

      Now lift the upper cover up, pull it forward over the steering wheel and remove it.

      You will now have easy access to the entire lower surface of the shroud, and you can remove any damaged felt strip, clean off the adhesive residue using an appropriate solvent (3M Adhesive Remover is my favorite), then install a new felt strip. Be sure to do a perfect job of cleaning any adhesive residue off of the upper steering column cover – if you fail to do that, the adhesive residue will grip onto the new felt strip, and tear it off once you start moving the steering column again.

      I have not actually done this job (I’ll do it when I get home, when I finish up the paddle shifter installation), however, I don't think it will be a difficult job to do. All it requires is attention to detail – making sure you do a perfect job of removing both the damaged original felt strip, all the adhesive on the lower part of the shroud, and any adhesive that may have transferred to the upper cover of the steering column. Plus, you will also need about one foot of new felt strip material, which costs about 50¢. That is considerably less expensive than replacing the whole darn steering column, or the motor…

      If the steering column on your Phaeton makes a noise when it moves up or down (or in or out), you can test to see if the cause of the problem is the felt strip or not: Just press your finger against the upper cover of the steering column, and see if that results in any change in the nature of the sound that is made when the steering column moves. If the sound changes when you push on the upper cover – then, chances are the sound is being caused by excess friction between the upper cover and the shroud that surrounds the upper cover.

      Below are pictures of the "Squeak and Rattle Repair Kit" that every North American VW dealer has. You can obtain the replacement adhesive backed felt material from this kit.

      VW Squeak and Rattle Repair Kit(every dealer has one)

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 05-02-2012 at 04:55 PM.

    2. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      09-12-2005 05:50 AM #2
      This is my preferred solvent for removing adhesive, etc. from various parts of the car. I have not tested it on the plastic surfaces of the steering column to make sure it is suitable (I am writing this post from Mogadishu, no Phaetons here), so test it first.

      After you have cleaned the adhesive residue off with this solvent, wash the parts with soap and water. This ensures a good looking finish with no streaks.

      Michael

      3M Adhesive Remover

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 05-02-2012 at 04:57 PM.

    3. Member W126C's Avatar
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      09-12-2005 10:25 AM #3
      Good call Michael. Mine makes noise with the wheel in the extended, upper most position, while retracting. It sounds like plastic gears stripping. I just went out to the car to check it and sure enough, I can see the shroud jumping up and down a little. Apply pressure and it stops.
      Regards,
      Brent

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      09-12-2005 10:49 AM #4
      VW would certainly save a lot of money if they required their service techs to monitor this forum. The repair of the steering wheel motor ran $2500 when the fixing of the shroud would have probably cost $250, at most. I wonder if they'll issue a service bulletin for this.

    5. 09-12-2005 10:57 AM #5
      Quote, originally posted by car_guy »
      VW would certainly save a lot of money if they required their service techs to monitor this forum. .

      I thoroughly agree with that. I already have learned more about cars on this forum than I ever thought I would.


    6. Member W126C's Avatar
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      09-12-2005 11:00 AM #6
      VW just needs to put Michael on full time to over see the Phaeton project.
      Regards,
      Brent

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      09-12-2005 11:16 AM #7
      Just think, VW would have to pay for Michael. We get him for free. We should feel very fortunate.

      My ownership experience so far is great mainly because of the help and info I get from this forum. Thanks to all of you. VW made a great car but they disappointed with the manual which certainly didn't get the attention to detail the car got. It is poorly written, doesn't even get the table of contents numbered correctly and contains many omissions and errors.

      One example of this is that both the 2004 sales brochure and the manual (which I scanned prior to purchasing the car) explain that a VW roof rack is available for the car. The rack was important for us so I could put our Thule box on top (hopefully as rarely as possible!) for the extra equipment my family of four requires for skiing and camping. 13 cubic feet of trunk space is not much for a car of this class. Imagine my frustration after purchasing the car to find out this was just a little error on their part, that only the SWB sold outside of the US had the fittings for the roof. I wish I had discovered the forum before purchase, except I really like the car.

      I will report on my roof rack findings with a post on that thread later.


    8. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      09-13-2005 03:31 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by car_guy »
      The repair of the steering wheel motor ran $2500 when the fixing of the shroud would have probably cost $250, at most.

      I know - that kind of thing frustrates me greatly.

      VW of NA really, really needs to improve the efficiency of how they disseminate service difficulty information out to the field. I am sure that VW AG (the parent company in Europe) has already discovered this unexpected wear and failure of the felt strip, and passed their observations out to service techs in the rest of the world. This includes sending this information to the Auburn Hills headquarters of VW of North America. The problem seems to be in Auburn Hills - lots of information goes in there from VW AG, but not too much makes it out to the techs in the field.

      At least we can all be grateful that we here in the forum enjoy great support from all the VW engineering, design, and manufacturing staff in both Dresden and Wolfsburg. Hopefully we can continue to use the forum to provide useful service information to both Phaeton owners and Phaeton techs in the future.

      Michael


    9. 08-17-2008 10:03 AM #9
      Anyone ever have this? Its not the up and down steering column movement noise, its a annoying plastic creak when steering left or right.

      I took the cover off as per:
      http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2184137

      And the felt is in place (even though this is a different movement noise I just thought to check it) and I spray lubricant around the back of the steering wheel and the area in general. It didnt really help.

      It just so stupid sounding in a car like this!


    10. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      08-18-2008 12:24 AM #10
      Matt:

      Try leaving the upper cover off for a day or so and see if the noise goes away. That's the easiest way to approach troubleshooting.

      Michael


    11. Member remrem's Avatar
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      08-18-2008 08:58 AM #11
      Michael, what do you use the "Dentotape" for (as seen in your photo above of the 3M adhesive remover)?
      "The main difference between a VW Phaeton and something like the S-Class, both of which are very large, very advanced German automobiles, is that one seems like a pitiless cyborg, while the other, dare I say, has soul." - Justin Couture - Automobile.com review (http://www.auto123.com/en/volkswagen/phaeton/2006/review?carid=1066301001&artid=58804)

    12. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      08-19-2008 02:07 AM #12
      Dental floss is a very useful tool for removing adhesive from surfaces. It is especially useful for removing all the badging (W12, 6.0, Phaeton, etc.) that gets stuck on the back of the NAR cars before they are exported.

      Michael


    13. 08-19-2008 12:32 PM #13
      Quote, originally posted by PanEuropean »
      Matt:

      Try leaving the upper cover off for a day or so and see if the noise goes away. That's the easiest way to approach troubleshooting.

      Michael

      I took the lower panel (foot area) off and tried to isolate the noise. Its a loudish creaking/groaning noise that you can hear on small movements of the steering wheel (large sweeping movements dont make a sound). I sprayed WD40 (lube) around the area to no avail.

      My partner then noticed you can actually hear the noise outside the car too, from the engine bay! Sure enough (easier to hear with engine off) you can hear a creaking from both sides of the car slightly above mid way up the height of the wheels from behind the wheel arch liners. This is kinda worrying now, no physical issue with the steering, but that noise just shouldnt be there!


    14. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      08-19-2008 02:35 PM #14
      Matt:

      If the noise is coming from a plastic cover, it will most likely be the upper of the two covers (see photos above). Hence my suggestion that you remove that cover.

      Michael


    15. 08-19-2008 04:52 PM #15
      Michael, its from the engine bay... behind the wheel (as in the road wheel) liner. It shouldnt even be in this thread!?
      From the search function on Vortex, I found lots of people with "power steering creaking", common causes were strut bearings being dirty (even on new cars), power steering fluid low, aftermarket springs being too low etc.


      Modified by mattsimis at 9:55 PM 8-19-2008

    16. Member remrem's Avatar
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      05-30-2009 10:12 AM #16
      Hi Michael,

      I experienced this problem about 5 months ago, and my VW tech replaced the peeling felt under warranty. The groaning noise went away - problem fixed.

      Then a month or 2 later the noise returned. My tech discovered that the new piece of felt had failed and was peeling. He removed it, but said there was no point in replacing it again, since he felt confident it would just fail again, probably because the adhesive wasn't adequate to withstand the Florida heat. He asked VW to allow him to replace the entire part, but VW has refused.

      I suppose if I call PCC and ask nicely that perhaps they might be able to get the repair authorized, and I'm thinking of doing just that, but frankly I hate to make a stink over something that seems so minor. Besides, here's the rub (sorry)- Since my tech removed the failed replacement felt, the steering column has been perfectly silent! So, there's a part of me that says to leave well enough alone, and another part that says if the felt was there in the first place it must serve an important purpose, and therefore I should get it replaced. I haven't observed any scratches on the column (though I haven't really inspected the area very closely). So, what would be the downside of just leaving the felt off permanently?

      Your comments and advice please.

      Thanks,
      Ron

      "The main difference between a VW Phaeton and something like the S-Class, both of which are very large, very advanced German automobiles, is that one seems like a pitiless cyborg, while the other, dare I say, has soul." - Justin Couture - Automobile.com review (http://www.auto123.com/en/volkswagen/phaeton/2006/review?carid=1066301001&artid=58804)

    17. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-30-2009 06:10 PM #17
      Quote, originally posted by remrem »
      So, what would be the downside of just leaving the felt off permanently?

      Hi Ron:

      The only downside I can think of is that the bezel (the cover) on the top part of the steering column might become slightly scratched from abrading against the opposite part (without the felt on it). Other than that, I can't think of any problem at all.

      Michael


    18. Member HunterST's Avatar
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      06-02-2009 09:55 AM #18
      I replaced my felt with the soft "loop" side of self-adhesive velcro.

      I bought a 1" wide roll (black) from my local Home Depot. I used ~2" strips cut lengthwise down the middle, so they are about 1/2" wide. The velcro is a little thicker than felt, but so far I've had no issues - in fact I think the extra thickness and stiffness of the velcro backing prevent it from folding over like the felt did.

      Also I've noticed the "grinding" noise comes from the vertical side areas, so you really do need to open it up and get access to the whole valence, in case you (like me) think you can get away with just doing the top.

      -Dan


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      02-19-2012 06:10 AM #19
      Anyone know how to stop the steering wheel making a farting noise as it adjusts to one's personal setting on entry and exit to the car. I don't want to switch it off and I was wondering whether some WD-40 might work, but I thought I would ask first.
      Thanks
      Tim

    20. Member EnglishPhaeton's Avatar
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      02-19-2012 06:44 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by arthurgodsake View Post
      Anyone know how to stop the steering wheel making a farting noise as it adjusts to one's personal setting on entry and exit to the car. I don't want to switch it off and I was wondering whether some WD-40 might work, but I thought I would ask first.
      Thanks
      Tim
      Tim,

      Michael posted a DIY fix for this issue (I tried it with limited success, basically the strip has worn between the sliding components.

      Stu

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      02-19-2012 09:18 AM #21
      Stu, do a search of the FAQ section of this site. Michael's post with photos and step by step directions should be in there. My steering column did the same thing a few years ago and the fix (mine was successful) was straight forward and easy to do. Good luck.

      Ron

    22. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-19-2012 11:23 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by arthurgodsake View Post
      ...wondering whether some WD-40 might work...
      Tim:

      Don't apply any lubricants, that will cause huge problems (staining and deterioration of the plastic surfaces). The solution to the problem can be found in the
      Phaeton Forum 'Table of Contents' (FAQ by Category).

      Go there, press Control + F on your keyboard (to bring up the 'find word within web page' function), and search using the criteria 'Steering'. About halfway down the 12 hits you will get using that criteria, you will find a post entitled Steering Column - Troubleshooting Noise (up-down or in-out adjustment). That's the one you want.

      The photos are missing at the moment because one of the host sites that I used for photos (HostDub, operated by OEMPlus) has gone offline forever - I guess OEM Plus did not find the ROI from hosting the photos to be worthwhile. I will re-host photos on an as-requested basis, but I gotta tell you, I am getting awfully tired of this photo merry-go-round - this is the third time I have had to do this in 6 years.

      Right now, I am really busy at work, but give me a few days and I will do my best to get the photos back up.

      Michael
      Please don't send me technical questions via IM - instead, post your questions onto the end of the most appropriate thread in the FAQ, so that everyone can benefit from the answer, and everyone can assist in providing the answer. Thanks, Michael

    23. Member
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      02-19-2012 12:37 PM #23
      Hi Michael,

      Anything wrong with photobucket ?

      I have photos on there that have never needed any re-hosting since I posted them years ago...

      P.

    24. Member n968412L's Avatar
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      02-19-2012 01:47 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Zaphh View Post
      Hi Michael,

      Anything wrong with photobucket ?

      I have photos on there that have never needed any re-hosting since I posted them years ago...

      P.
      I think they had a big crash in the last 12 months... I've had to rehost all mine.

      I think Michael has a good and fair point. I'll certainly, unless this is wrong/illegal, try to make a copy of some/all pictures that Michael posts in future - so that they're not lost for ever if something happens to wherever they're hosted.. and then there's someone else who can repost them...
      Like all good intentions... I might not manage it... but being without some of the pictures this last few weeks has prompted me to think about trying to do this.

      Regards
      M

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      02-19-2012 03:20 PM #25
      Thanks for pointing out where to find the info everyone. I'll wait for Michael's photos and attempt the remedial work.
      Tim

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      03-04-2012 07:31 AM #26
      Hi,

      I discovered the same noise on my Phaeton.

      @Michael - could you rehost the pictures?


      Thanks in advance,


      Alex

    27. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-02-2012 04:57 PM #27
      Photos re-hosted.

      Michael
      Please don't send me technical questions via IM - instead, post your questions onto the end of the most appropriate thread in the FAQ, so that everyone can benefit from the answer, and everyone can assist in providing the answer. Thanks, Michael

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      05-03-2012 06:42 AM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
      Photos re-hosted.

      Michael
      Thanks for that! I can look into it during the weekend.

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