138,600 miles, 6th September 2012
This is the first car that I have owned where I haven't been fighting an on-going battle with the windscreen wipers. With my previous cars I frequently had problems with streaking, juddering, you name it! But from day one, my VW Golf Mk 5's wipers have performed flawlessly. I love the Auto-Wipers feature. I think this is the main reason why I've only needed to change the blades twice since new!
My experience with the rear wiper however has been less impressive. I've had the usual problems. Even with a new blade fitted, I only managed problem free wiping for a few months. I was willing to believe this was not the fault of the car but rather it was due to the rear wiper not being used as much as the front wipers, the rear windscreen being less likely than the front to be cleaned by driving rain and the fact that the rear windscreen of any hatchback car can get very dirty very quickly.
But then a month or so ago, I noticed that the rear wiper was not parking itself perfectly horizontally across the bottom of the windscreen like it did when it was new. After a little more investigation I noticed that when it was in use, it was over-sweeping on the other side and almost hitting the paintwork. Why it had started doing this I wasn't sure but I figured it would be a simple job to remove the arm, reposition it and secure it back in the correct parked position. However, it did not turn out to be such a simple job.
I lifted up the spindle nut cover and saw that the wiper arm had cracked around the metal insert. I didn't take a photo myself but found the photo on the left whilst researching on the internet. It shows a US GTI's rear wiper with exactly the same problem as my car. This suggests that this is a common problem.
I removed the spindle nut and tried to pull the arm and metal insert off the spindle together. However, because the arm had cracked, the arm quickly began to detach from the insert. After quite a bit of pulling, twisting and levering, I had detached the arm but the metal insert was still firmly in position. See photo right.
I did contemplate trying to stick the wiper arm back onto the metal insert. However, the contact surfaces looked pretty smooth and there was a lot of dirt and dust about and so I decided this wasn't worth trying. I ended up visiting my local VW dealer and buying a genuine replacement rear wiper arm, VW Part Number 6Q6 955 707 C, for about £19.
With the wiper arm removed, I thought it would be easy to wrap some pliers around the metal insert and either pull or lever it off. But it wouldn't budge, even after squirting and soaking it in copious amounts of WD-40. Actually at one point it did appear to move slightly but then I realised that it wasn't the insert moving on the spindle but rather it was the insert AND the spindle moving. The spindle is only made out of plastic and is hollow to allow the water for the screen washer to flow through it. As the spindle is attached to the motor on the inside of the hatch, I didn't want to use too much force in case I damaged either it or the motor. So in the end I resorted to using a hacksaw to cut the old metal insert off.
Fortunately this is relatively easy to do because the metal is soft and you have good access to it as it protrudes away from the hatch. Be careful though not to cut into the plastic spindle or the hard metal spline which will be beneath the insert. It is made out of a hard metal which cuts into the softer metal insert of the wiper arm as the tightening of the spindle nut pushes the insert onto the spline holding it securely in place. Also, sawing produces lots of tiny metal shards which cover the hatch so be careful to wash these away so that they do not scratch. Only after I had cut away about four chunks of the insert was I finally able to pull the remainder of it off with pliers. See photo left.
Then it was just the simple matter of positioning the new arm on the spindle and tightening the nut. Remember not to tighten this too much or risk damaging the spindle/motor.
I suspect that my previous rear wiper streaking and juddering problems may have been caused by tiny movement of the old wiper arm on the spindle and so I am hoping that the new wiper arm fitment will fix this. Only time will tell.