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    Thread: DIY - Removing the windshield cowl and fixing noisy / squeaky wipers on a MKIV car

    1. 07-28-2009 11:17 PM #1
      REMOVING THE WINDSHIELD COWL AND FIXING NOISY / SQUEAKY WIPERS ON A MKIV CAR

      The following procedure describes how to (1) remove the plastic cowl that sits at the bottom front of the windshield and (2) remove the wiper motor and mechanism for replacement or regreasing. The removal of the windshield cowl is not only necessary to access the wiper motor/mechanism, but it also allows for removal of the ECU. The wiper mechanisms of older MKIV cars tend to become very noisy (squeaky) and eventually sieze due to insufficient lubrication of the brass bushings for the mechanism linkages. If done soon after wiper squeakings starts, removing and disassembling the mechanism and regreasing the bushings will eliminate the squeaking and provide years of additional trouble-free operation. If the mechanism has seized and the motor possibly burned out, then these parts can be easily replaced with the assembly out of the car.

      The procedure below is based on a '99.5 Jetta GLS VR6, but should be applicable to all MKIV cars and similar on other VWs. The time required to complete the procedure is approximately 1-2 hours.

      The tools required to perform the procedure are:

      - T25 Torx or Phillips screwdriver (to remove the pollen filter cover in the windshield cowl)
      - small screwdriver (to remove the plastic caps that cover the wiper arm nuts)
      - 10mm and 13mm sockets and wrench
      - Scratch awl (or something similar) or a fine permanent marker for marking the motor shaft position relative to the mechanism linkage (helps ensure that the motor and linkage are reconnected correctly and the wipers are at the correct position at rest)
      - tools to remove the external circlip from the wiper arm (I used two screwdrivers to push the circlip off and needle-nose pliers to pop the circlip back on)

      If you are only removing the windshield cowl and not removing the wiper mechanism, perform steps 1 through 8 and 42 through 51. If you are removing and regreasing the wiper mechanism, perform all of the steps. Step 18 is only required if you are replacing the wiper motor, but is still recommended for regreasing the wiper mechanism since it removes some bulk, provides extra clearance for the mechanism disassembly and only requires that three 10mm bolts be removed.


      PART I - REMOVAL and DISASSEMBLY

      1. Raise the hood.

      2. Remove the plastic cap (red arrow in picture below) from the pivot end of each wiper arm. The cap covers the nut that secures the wiper arm to the drive shaft. To remove the cap, insert a small screwdriver into the notch indicated by the yellow arrow in the picture below and twist gently to raise the cap. You may need to move the screwdriver to under other areas of the cap and twist again to get the cap to come off. It's on the nut fairly tight.


      3. Remove the 13mm nut (red arrow in picture below) that secures each wiper arm to its drive shaft.


      4. Remove each wiper arm from its drive shaft. The threaded end of the drive shaft is tapered and splined, so disconnecting the arm from the shaft is easier said than done. I've heard of a number of ways of doing it, but the way that worked best for me was to grab the arm at the place indicated by the red arrow in the picture below and wiggling the arm up and down (away from and towards the windshield) until it is loose enough on the splined shaft to be pulled off. It may take a dozen or so wiggles for this to happen. If it doesn't move easily, then pull/push harder.


      5. Remove the pollen filter access cover from the windshield cowl by following steps 1 through 4 of the following DIY - Pollen Filter Replacement DIY. In step 3 of that DIY when told to pull up on the rear hood seal, go ahead and remove the seal completely.

      6. Starting at one end of the windshield cowl (red arrow in the picture below), pull the end of the cowl straight out from the windshield (perpendicular to it) and work your fingers under it and toward the center of the car. There is a tab that runs most of the width of the cowl that snaps into a channel in a clip that is attached to the bottom of the windshield. You need to pull up on the cowl until you get the end of the tab to pop out of the channel. Once you get the end of the cowl to pop up, continue doing the same across the whole width of the cowl/windshield. Move the cowl out of the way when it's fully disconnected. For reference, the yellow arrow in the picture below shows the driver's side wiper drive shaft sticking through an opening in the cowl.


      7. The picture below shows the clip attached to the bottom of the windshield. The red arrow points to the channel that the cowl tab attaches to.


      8. The picture below shows the bottom of the driver's side end of the windshield cowl. The red arrow points to the tab that snaps into the windshield clip channel.



      9. With the cowl removed, the wiper mechanism is visible. The red arrow in the picture below points to the motor drive shaft. The yellow arrows point to the wiper arm drive shafts.



      10. Remove the rubber piece (red arrow in the picture below) that surrounds each wiper arm drive shaft.



      11. Remove the three 10mm bolts indicated by the red arrows in the picture below.



      12. Partially remove the wiper mechanism from its cavity under the windshield and disconnect the motor wiring harness indicated by the red arrow in the picture below.



      13. Remove the wiper mechanism from its cavity under the windshield.

      14. The picture below shows the orientation of the mechanism linkages when the wipers are at the rest (off) position. Note that the passenger's side wiper linkage (red arrow), driver's side wiper linkage (yellow arrow) and motor drive arm (blue arrow) are all aligned from left to right along the green line (the motor drive arm is oriented to the passenger's side underneath the driver's side wiper linkage). When reassembling the motor and linkage arms later in this DIY, it is critical that the linkages are oriented this way when the motor is at its rest position.



      15. Move the linkage assembly so that the motor drive arm rotates approximately 90 degrees (1/4 of a turn), as shown in the picture below. This gives access to the nut that secures the motor drive arm (blue arrow) to the motor drive shaft. The red and yellow arrows point to the passenger's side and driver's side wiper linkages, respectively.



      16. Make a mark on the motor drive arm and a corresponding mark on one half of the motor drive shaft similar to those shown in the picture below. These marks are used during reassembly so that the rest position of the motor corresponds with the rest orientation of the motor drive arm and wiper linkages. I recommend making permanent marks with a scratch awl or something similar. You can also use a fine permanent marker. Just make sure not to accidentally erase the marks during later steps of the DIY. Realigning the motor and linkage assembly is much harder to do without the marks. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS STEP!!!


      17. Remove the 13mm nut indicated by the yellow arrow in the picture above. The linkage will likely try and move when you attempt this, so hold onto the linkages very tightly to keep them from moving and apply a blunt turning force to the nut (i.e., hit the wrench with a hand or hammer) to break it free without the linkages moving much.

      18. Remove the 10mm nuts indicated by the red arrrows in the picture below. This disconnects the motor from the linkage assembly. This is not absolutely necessary to perform the rest of the DIY, but is recommended. It takes only a few seconds and makes the rest of the DIY easier. If you're replacing the motor, then this step IS required.



      19. The picture below shows the driver's side wiper arm drive shaft. The passenger's side wiper arm drive shaft is identical in design, just oriented differently. If your wipers squeak, then most likely one or both of these drive shafts is no longer sufficiently lubricated. Diassembly and regreasing of the drive shaft(s) is usually sufficient to eliminate the squeaking. If squeaking has been going on for a long time, or the mechanism has seized, then the linkage assembly may be damaged beyond repair and would need to be replaced.


      20. The drive shaft is secured in its housing by an external circlip, indicated by the red arrow in the picture above. Carefully push this circlip out of its groove in the drive shaft. I laid the drive shaft housing on its side and used two screwdivers to push the circlip off.

      21. Remove the thick washer that sits below the circlip. The washer is indicated by the red arrow in the picture below.


      22. The red arrow in the picture below points to an O-ring that sits below the thick washer. During insertion of the drive shaft into its housing following regreasing, this O-ring may pop out of its groove in the housing and ride up the drive shaft a bit. There is no need to do anything with it at this point.


      23. Repeat steps 20 through 22 for the other drive shaft.

      24. Slide the drive shafts out their housings.

      25. The picture below shows two thin washers that sit at the bottom of the drive shaft. The lower washer is bowed. The upper washer is flat. Be very careful not to lose these! If there aren't two washers on each drive shaft, then check the bottom of the shaft housing to see if one or both is stuck to it.


      26. The picture below shows the inside of a drive shaft housing. The housing has an upper (red arrow) and lower brass bushing with a cavity with slightly larger diameter in between them.


      27. Apply some good quality grease to the bushing surfaces and add a little extra to the cavity in between them. You can't apply too much. When you insert the drive shaft back into the housing, the shaft will push the excess grease out.


      PART II - REASSEMBLY and INSTALLATION

      28. Make sure that the two thin washers are located on the bottom of the drive shaft. The bowed washer goes on first. The flat washer goes on second.

      29. Insert the drive shaft back into the regreased housing and rotate the shaft a little bit to spread out the grease inside evenly. Wipe off excess grease from the portion of the shaft that sticks out of the top of the housing.

      30. If the O-ring has ridden up the drive shaft, carefully push it back down into its groove in the housing.

      31. Put the thick washer on the drive shaft.

      32. Push the drive shaft fully into the housing (to compress the thin, bowed washer) and reinsert the external circlip into its groove. I fit the tips of the circlip into the groove and then used needle-nose pliers to push the circlip onto the shaft and into the shaft groove the rest of the way.

      33. Repeats steps 28 through 32 for the other drive shaft.

      34. Reconnect the motor to the linkage mechanism using the three 10mm bolts.

      35. Reconnect the motor drive arm to the motor drive shaft by pressing the arm onto the splined shaft. Make sure that the marks on the arm and shaft are lined up. Tighten the 13mm nut onto the motor drive shaft, making sure that the drive arm does not rotate relative to the drive shaft. If it does, remove the drive arm from the drive shaft, realign the marks and try again. If you didn't mark the drive shaft and drive arm, or if the marks are no longer visible, see the TIP at the end of the DIY.

      36. Insert the reassembled motor and linkage assembly into the cavity below the windsheild.

      37. Reconnect the motor wiring harness to the motor.

      38. Reconnect the motor/linkage assembly to the car using the three 10mm bolts.

      39. Turn the car ignition on and operate the wipers for at least one cycle. This will return the linkage assembly and wiper arm drive shafts to the correct rest position.

      40. Turn the wipers and car ignition off.

      41. Reinstall the rubber piece on each of the wiper arm drive shafts.

      42. Reinstall the plastic windshield cowl, making sure that the holes in the cowl are centered around the wiper arm drive shafts and the tab on the bottom of the cowl snaps into the channel in the clip attached to the bottom of the windshield glass.

      43. Reinstall the pollen filter cover by following steps 13 and 14 in the following DIY - Pollen Filter Replacement DIY.

      44. Reinstall the rear hood seal.

      45. Reattach the wiper arms to the wiper arm drive shafts by pressing the arm down onto the splined drive shaft. Try to position each wiper arm on its drive shaft so that the closest of the two ends of the rubber wiper blade is approximately 1/2" or so from the upper edge of the windshield cowl.

      46. Tighten the 13mm nut onto each of the wiper arm drive shafts. This will fully seat the wiper arm onto the splined drive shaft.

      47. Wet the windshield a little.

      48. Turn the car ignition on and operate the wipers for at least one cycle. Check to see that the driver's side wiper rubber does not travel past the vertical edge of the windshield glass, and that the tips of the both wiper rubbers are not too close to (or on top of) the windshield cowl when the wipers come to rest.

      49. Turn the wipers and car ignition off.

      50. If the position of the wipers if off, repeat steps 3, 4 and 45 through 49 as many times as necessary to get the position of the wipers correct.

      51. Reinstall the plastic caps on the 13mm nuts on the wiper arm drive shafts.

      That's it. Enjoy your quiet wipers.


      TIP

      If the relative positions of the motor drive shaft and drive arm were not marked in step 16, or if the marks are no longer visible, reconnect the motor wiring harness to the motor and have someone operate the wipers at least one cycle while you hold the motor securely. This will return the motor drive shaft to the rest position. Next, reconnect the motor to the linkage assembly using the three 10mm bolts. Make a mark on the end of the motor drive shaft that would line up with the motor drive arm when its in the position shown in the picture for step 14. The mark should basically be at the 9 o'clock position. Finally, make the mark on the motor drive arm that you should have made in step 16. You should now be ready to proceed with step 35.


      As always, do this procedure at your own risk. I am not responsible for any mistakes in the procedure or those that you make while performing it.


      Modified by VgRt6 at 12:49 PM 7-29-2009


    2. Senior Member Clean PG's Avatar
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      07-28-2009 11:22 PM #2
      wow, ive actually been hoping to see a writeup of this. thank you
      || Mk4 Wheel Offset and Stance Picture Index || ClearWaterDubs || ClearWaterDubs@VWVortex ||
      || Please don't PM me with offset questions, post in THIS THREAD instead ||

    3. 07-28-2009 11:28 PM #3
      Great write-up on this. It's funny, because I just had to do this with my bro on his 03 Audi a4. Apparently VAG knows about the issue, because later on they came up with an improved design that has a cap on the lower portion of the arm, so that water does not rust them up.

      Looking at this arm, and his arm, the design is almost identical. Lucky for us though, getting the wipers out is not as much of a PITA. Guess I'll tackle this one on my car soon enough.

      This will come in handy for people who aren't familiar with the process, so major kudos for a proper DIY.


    4. Member
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      07-29-2009 02:19 AM #4
      Was also in need of this DIY. I over torqued my windshield wiper blade after taking out my ecu to get the info from it. Snapped all but 2 threads off it and need to replace the passenger side linkage. Thanks again for everything you do for our community

    5. 07-29-2009 10:59 AM #5
      Morning bump.

    6. Member echokid98's Avatar
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      07-29-2009 12:26 PM #6
      who torques a winshield wiper?!

      and who actually thinks theres a need to use retard strength on one?


    7. 07-29-2009 01:20 PM #7
      I doubt he used a torque wrench. He probably meant 'torque' as in 'tighten.'

      Regardless, you're right about not needing to crazy tighten the nut. The shaft is splined for a reason. Let the splines do their job.


    8. Member
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      08-11-2009 04:49 PM #8
      Woot was able to just replace the passenger side linkage rather than the whole assembly. Not sure why i put this off so long, it was rather straight forward.

      When you torque down the windshield wiper blades do not tighten past 11 FT LBS on that nut. Please learn from me =D


    9. 08-17-2009 08:05 AM #9
      Very nice writeup, as usual!

      I had to perform this procedure a few winters ago after parking the car outside overnight in freezing rain (was visiting Montreal at the time). In my case, the linkage assembly was so badly seized, that it took a propane torch to take it apart.

      I was able to clean up the galvanic corrosion between the sliding shaft/cylinder housing by carefully using the dremel (used the polishing stone/drum attachment). If you are reading this and the assembly is corrosion seized, don't despair, it can most likely be R&R'ed.

      Quote, originally posted by VgRt6 »
      4. Remove each wiper arm from its drive shaft. The threaded end of the drive shaft is tapered and splined, so disconnecting the arm from the shaft is easier said than done. I've heard of a number of ways of doing it, but the way that worked best for me was to grab the arm at the place indicated by the red arrow in the picture below and wiggling the arm up and down (away from and towards the windshield) until it is loose enough on the splined shaft to be pulled off. It may take a dozen or so wiggles for this to happen. If it doesn't move easily, then pull/push harder.

      In addition to the reasons mentioned, that step is also made slightly more difficult because the arm is spring loaded. After some wiggling, what eventually worked for me was to push down with the left hand (near the red arrow in Gary's step 4), while simultaneously pulling up with the right hand near the splined end (red arrow in Gary's step 3). If it is badly corroded or if yours doesn't come off using either of the techniques already described here, you can always try a puller tool designed for this very purpose (e.g., OTC4676).

      The hardest part for me was removal of the plastic cowl piece from under the hood; the whole thing is large and flimsy and you have to carefully twist it out while trying not to break the old brittle plastic.




      Modified by rabi at 7:41 AM 8-17-2009


    10. 08-17-2009 08:19 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by rabi »

      The hardest part for me was removal of the plastic cowl piece from under the hood; the whole thing is large and flimsy and you have to carefully twist it out while trying not to break the old brittle plastic.

      I snapped mine tryn to get to the ECU that thing doesnt like to come out.
      Also, its a good idea to mark the wipers current position with tape on the window so you reinstall them at the right spot.


    11. n00b
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      10-03-2010 08:07 PM #11
      You guys are awesome. Thanks so much for this informative step by step process that would have cost a bundle at the "stealership".

    12. Member speed51133!'s Avatar
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      12-24-2012 12:40 PM #12
      back from the dead!

      i was soo pissed off at my wipers trying to get to my ecu. nothing will make the arms budge off the splined shaft.

      i ended up cutting the plastic cowel in half so i can just pop off the passanger side.

      if this thing was two piece you would almost never have to remove the darn wipers.

      what a horrible design. they are actually designed to sieze....

    13. n00b
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      01-26-2013 01:54 PM #13
      This has been a real saver even though my Seat is right-hand drive.
      Had four major problems: 1. could not remember how all the bits of plastic went back, particularly the filter splash panel and the two gutter-type troughs.
      2. Getting the plug off the wiper motor was a so-and-so. There's a clip at the bottom which has to levered over. The plug suffered severe damage but still works.
      3. Despite marking the links and motor still got it wrong. No real prob. Just slacken off rotor retaining nut, park and swing links into place. Without moving the links slide a spanner under them onto the retaining nut and tighten.
      4. Driver's side wiper barrel had seized. Needed help to remove circlips then had heat barrel before shaft would hammer out - bringing the lower copper bearing with it! Mechanic said they usually ran a drill through bearings to open them up a tad.
      Hope this helps. Did this in winter, was absolute hell.

    14. Junior Member danmacary's Avatar
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      03-03-2013 12:25 AM #14
      My wiper arms were seized on and could not get them off by wiggeling or pulling. I just spray'd some liquid wrench and used my BF channel lock pliers put the curved jaw under the arm and the straight jaw on the threaded shaft and squeezed hard and it poped out no problem. Also I put some spare nuts I had lying around on the wiper shafts so I didnt mushroom them. Worked lke a champ
      Last edited by danmacary; 03-03-2013 at 12:30 AM.

    15. 10-23-2014 02:59 PM #15
      I'm guessing you won't get this reply, but I just wanted to say thanks very much for the *great* instructions about how to remove the plastic trim under the wipers. I had seen 2 videos about it and tried it but hit some substantial obstruction and had to abandon it through fear of breaking something. Turns out those videos neglected to mention that the trim fits firmly into that slot you showed in the photo, so that's what the obstruction was. Now I know I'll aim to get it out of that starting at the edge.
      Good instructions make a world of difference when you're doing a job like this for the first time. They can stop you wasting time, failing or doing unnecessary damage.
      So thank you.

    16. 11-22-2014 04:55 PM #16
      Just adding this since I just got through doing this today. I discovered a good trick to taking the arms off.

      On one beetle I had tried getting these things to the detriment of the plastic cowling. The poor thing got cracked in several places. Eventually I was able to use ABS glue to fix that to almost new, but on my other beetle I didn't want to have this happen. Luckily I discovered you can use a 3 arm puller to get them off.

      Specifically I used the smallest in the 3 puller set available from harbor freight. Links always change eventually, but for now here it is:
      http://www.harborfreight.com/three-j...-pc-69105.html

      Take the smallest of them. place that arms under the metal edge of the wiper arm in any manner that they fit. Place the center cone on the bolt and slowly tighten the puller down. Its a bit unwieldy since the puller has a loose cone tip and its being pushed against a flat metal surface. It does help to tap a nailset to start it, or the puller will do it on its own soon enough. Reset the cone as you tighten, until it sits on its own. Crank down a few times with a ratchet, and the arm will pop off.

      This is fast and easy, and avoids any amount of prying on all the surrounding plastics.

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