This might at first sound pretty self-evident – just remove the flat tire, and put the spare tire on – but there are a few extra steps that have to be taken due to the air suspension system on the Phaeton. So, here is a step by step illustrated guide. You might want to print it out, put it in a zip-lock bag, and toss it into the spare tire well of your Phaeton.
Your first hint that you have a problem with a tire will likely be a warning message that looks like this. It is possible that the message will be displayed in a different colour (and with different spelling of the word ‘tyre’) depending on what country you are in.
Flat Tire Warning Message
If you press the VEHICLE button on the infotainment system, you can see which tire has the problem. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is quite sensitive, and will detect the problem before you can tell which tire has the problem simply by looking for a flat one.
Detail showing which tire has the problem.
The first action to take is to dig out the owner manual. It provides pretty good step by step instructions, beginning on page 66 of section 3.2 of the manual
Owner Manual Instructions
You MUST put the Phaeton suspension system into the special ‘Jacking Up Mode’ (Tire Changing Mode) before you jack the car up. If you don’t do this, the car will notice the difference in height of the corner of the car you are jacking up, and attempt to push the wheel back down onto the ground by sending air into that shock absorber. You don’t want that.
To put the car into ‘Tire Changing Mode’, press and hold both of the suspension control buttons on the middle console for 5 seconds or longer. You will see a message in the Y24 display between the speedometer and tachometer confirming that the car is now in ‘Jacking Up Mode’
How to Invoke ‘Jacking Up Mode’
Now, set the parking brake, so the car does not roll around when you are trying to change the tire. It would be very annoying if it rolled enough to fall off the jack.
Set the Parking Brake
You can make the whole process a lot simpler if you take all the stuff you will need out of the car before you start work, and set it up on the ground beside the problem tire. If your tire happens to go flat in a Hilton parking lot, like mine did, don’t forget to go inside and get a cup of coffee to drink as you do the work.
Get everything you will need out and in place before you start work.
Here are some photos that show trick and tips to make getting all the stuff out of the spare tire well as painless and simple as possible. First, be aware that the chrome handle on the spare tire well cover is designed to clip onto the top of the trunk opening, to hold the cover open and out of your way.
How to keep the spare tire well cover open while you work.
Before you attempt to take the spare tire out of the well, remove the entire semi-circular foam tray that contains all the tools, and carry it around to the problem tire. This way, you have all the tools handy, in a holder, so you don’t lose anything. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to get the tire out of the well if you have first removed the semi-circular tray that holds the tools.
Remove the tool tray before you remove the spare tire.
Tool tray and spare tire, ready to begin work.
Remove the decorative caps from the wheel bolts, using the special tool that is provided. Note that one of these caps is different (on the inside) than the others. This is the one that fits over the special locking nut. Remember this later on, when you put these caps back on.
BEFORE you lift the car up with the jack, use the wrench to loosen the bolts. The idea here is that you just ‘crack’ the bolts off – perhaps a quarter turn only – before you jack up the car. This way, you are not reefing on the bolts and shaking the car around after you have jacked it up.
Now put the jack in place. The owner manual shows exactly where the jack should go. There is a special cut-out (recess) in the bottom edge of the car where the jack goes.
Find the recess
Put the jack in place
And lift up the car.
Now that the dead tire is up in the air, you can remove the wheel bolts that you previously loosened, remove the dead tire, and install the spare tire.
Volkswagen provides a small plastic guide tool to make it easier to fit the replacement tire onto the wheel hub. The idea is this: You screw this small plastic guide into place on any of the holes where the bolts go, then install the new tire, using this plastic guide to help you get the bolt holes in the tire lined up with the bolt holes on the hub. It is a useful, clever little device.
The rest is pretty simple – install the 5 bolts, tighten them gently with the wrench, then remove the jack. Once the car is back down on the ground (no longer supported with the jack), you can firmly tighten the 5 bolts. The target torque is 120 Newton meters. After you have tightened the 5 bolts, put the decorative caps back on. Put the dead tire in the spare tire well first, then install the semi-circular tool tray second – it’s much easier if you do it in that sequence.
Most likely, your Phaeton suspension will look pretty strange after you have removed the jack. The body will be much too close to the tire that you just changed – the car will look ‘slammed’ in that corner, and when you get into the car and start it, you will get a warning message about the suspension, to the effect of “Stop – vehicle too low”. Don’t worry about this, the fix is simple: Just press the suspension height button, then turn the big knob on the infotainment screen to set the car to the highest possible height, and push the big knob. This will do two things: First, it will de-activate Jacking Up Mode, and second, it will lift the car back up so that everything looks normal again. Once the car has been lifted up to the highest setting, you can then put it back to the normal setting.
Looks a bit low, after removing the jack
…and now we see this message.
The easy fix for this is to just lift the car up to the highest suspension mode, using the suspension height button, then lower it back down to normal.
After all this work is done, you still have two minor issues to attend to. First is getting the wheel bolts properly torqued, because it is not likely that you happened to have a torque wrench in the trunk. Any garage can do this for you, so just stop when convenient and ask them to torque the 5 bolts to 120 Newton meters (88 foot-pounds of force). The second problem is that the Tire Pressure monitoring system will complain that the tire in the spare tire well is now flat – as if you didn’t know this already. If you don’t plan on having the tire repaired right away, or, if you have to drop the spare tire off to get it repaired, and pick it up later, you can recode the Tire Pressure Monitoring Controller to indicate that there are only 4 tires on board, not 5. Instructions about how to do this can be found here: Tire Pressure Monitoring System - watch 4 tires, or 5? How-to...