Hi guys, very useful tread! I just want to add my experience; it might help someone to save some time and some elbow grease. I have a 2011 SEL, stick, bought it new. I had quite a few cars, among them a MK2 Jetta, an A6, so I’m not newbie when it comes to VWs, and I’m also mechanically inclined – I changed the CV boot on all of my vwag cars…
My Jetta started to make a rattling noise after a month or so, coming from behind the instrument cluster, close to the A pillar, under the windscreen area. At the 3 month courtesy check I mentioned it at the dealership; when I got the car back I was told that they couldn’t find anything, except for a loose driver side vanity light, which they fixed. The rattle went away for a week or so than it came back. I knew I had to fix it myself, if I take it back to the dealer, unless there is a TSB, they won’t fix it, just will make things worse – nothing personal against my dealership, they are fine, but just that’s the way it is, they will not spend countless hours chasing rabbits around. But instead of just tearing into the dashboard, I started to watch discussions like this one, figured I’m not the only one, and sooner or later someone will find a fix. Anyhow, after this threat got longer, with lots of good info, I decided it’s time to dig in. So on a quiet afternoon I removed the instrument cluster trim, then the cluster, applied weather stripping foam to all the suspected places: between the cluster and dashboard, inside the trim where it touches the clear plastic, under the trim, next to the clips and so on. I also padded the dashboard endplate panel, and fuse block door. While the instrument cluster was out I also checked for missing screws, all OK. Put everything back together, felt pretty good.
I took the car out for a spin, but of course, the noise is still there, F@#$! . So I driving around, and I started again touching everything in my reach to see if I can quiet things down. Since the sun was out, I had the visor down, and I’m tapping and touching everything I can reach, when for some unknown reason I touch he vanity light, and as long as I’m holding it, the rattle is gone. Even that there is no rattle, I still can’t believe to my own ears, because when I let the light go he noise comes back, and I swear it comes from behind the instrument cluster. I touch the light, no noise; let it go, the noise is back. Well f%$# it, I go home, pop the light out. (As a side note, I know this car was cheapened a lot, but you really starting noticing it under the skin, the vanity light in my very first car was far higher quality, and that car was Skoda 110L! google it)
Well, what I found is that the metal mounting clip at the end of the light was loose inside the plastic housing; I have no idea how it was supposed to stay tight, but I pushed a straightened paper staple between the clip and the housing to tighten things up, and clipped off the staple sticking out. (I only used a staple because that is what I had handy, and it fit perfectly).
Anyway, my car is –still- rattle free for two weeks now, and no question that the light was my issue.
I just want to share my experience, because I was 100% sure the rattle is coming from behind the dashboard, and despite all the evidence, it was still hard for me to accept that I was looking in the wrong place all along. Now, it doesn’t mean that all rattle from behind the instrument cluster is originating from the vanity light - unfortunately the way our car is made guaranties many more Easter egg hunts – but use my story as a cautionary tale, and don’t blindly follow your ears!
Many thanks for all the previous contributors!