Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

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Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by veteran » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:14 pm

Anyone here got a 2014-2017 Polo and managed to access the innards of the tail light cluster?

I've recently bought a 2017 1.2 TSI Match Edition and am going round the vehicle, inspecting and noting down the types and ratings of the various lightbulbs. (And before anyone queries it, yes I've the requisite experience and technical background to know how to do this safely). Being a diligent motorist and one who's always done my own servicing and repairs on the cars I've owned, I like to keep a spare basic set of bulbs onboard, in case one of them fails while I'm away from home. I've asked the VW dealer for a list of the bulbs used on this model but the silence has been deafening. Some of them are actually LEDs, eg. the side direction-indicators, built into the exterior mirrors.

Although the Polo Owner's Manual (Nov 2016 version) describes on pp. 219 - 228 how to remove the various light units and replace bulbs, it doesn't list the actual bulbs used. Thus, my only recourse has been to temporarily remove the units and record the bulb type and rating in each case.

Page 227 of the Manual describes how to change the bulbs in the rear cluster. This involves initially pulling away a cutout flap in the side trim, measuring about 3 in x 2 in. This exposes a quite small electrical connector for the rear cluster that's supposed to be removeable by squeezing its side-lugs. However, it's virtually impossible to get your fingers in there to do it.

The entire cluster seems to be held to the rear corner of the Polo by a single spring-loaded nylon fastener, just above this small connector. This is labelled "1" in fig.177 on p.227. The instruction is to unscrew this fastener, but I've tried this for both clusters and it doesn't budge at all. In fact, shining a torch on it, it looks like it might be keyed in place. The spring is under huge tension; it's clearly holding the entire lens cluster in place, presumably together with a rainproof seal somewhere.

I'm wondering if, rather than simply turning the nylon part, you're supposed to push down on the nylon part, turning it at the same time. I've tried that but to no avail. The Manual merely says to 'unscrew the bolt'. But maybe I'm not using enough force (don't want to break the nylon part)?

I'm beginning to wonder whether VW's devised a special tool for doing this. I've also wondered whether, for better access, you need to release and fold back a lot more of the trim, although when I've investigated doing so it's seemed all but impossible to do without dis-assembling several other parts in the boot first.

Am I making too much of this? But then, how do other owners of 2014 - 2017 6R Polos manage with this? If you had to do this out on an open road somewhere, you'd be stuffed, as I can't see the average driver being able to get enough grip on that so-called bolt, using just two fingers and a thumb. Does this spring-loaded 'bolt' require some sort of miniature spring compressor, in order to be able to turn the nylon part, so as to release the cluster? Been trying to devise some sort of improvised handtool to use on it but haven't come up with anything that looks workable yet.

Am not sure when VW first introduced this type of arrangement, but has anyone else had this problem? Are you supposed to push down the nylon part and at the same time turn it, or are you meant to just turn the nylon part (the nylon part has 'wings', which kinda suggests it should be turned)? Could it be that I've simply not used enough turning force?

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by iichel » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:19 pm

no just twist the white thing... you'll be allright.

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by peter_dk25 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:03 pm

Do the Twist :D

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by veteran » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:17 pm

iichel and peter_dk25,

Turn in which direction? The usual anticlockwise (as viewed from the wings end of that nylon bit)? Or the other direction?

I'll have another try later today, then report back here on the outcome.

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by iichel » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:21 pm

Just like any old screw... lefty loosy, righty tighty... :-)

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:34 pm

I think that I am being drawn into finding out a bit more about this as I too think that I am smart enough to know exactly "what" every bulb is! (well soon I might have this info!!)

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:01 pm

Well, I have not confirmed that this is an easy task, I gave up after managing to rotate the LHS wing nut by half a turn - and that was only possible by using two different pipe wrenches and a couple of screwdrivers to see if I could turn it a bit using the slot! Spring looks "massive" and that along with the amount of friction that plastic on plastic is generating does not make this fixing method look very clever at all!!

Wife's previous car, a 2002 9N Polo had a large tethered plastic wing nut, but that worked as intended.

This current Polo is a RHD 5 door car, so that means that it was built in ZA, maybe this is the problem - some crappy sourcing of some items?

I checked on the Haynes repair manual for 6R Polo and it looks like a very simple task, so something is wrong with some of these cars!

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by veteran » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:14 pm

I agree with you, Rum4mo. I think iichel and peter are mistaken. Either that or VW have altered the design since their vehicles were produced.

I think VW has made a very small but, for us, an unfortunate change in the design of the fastener that now makes it look as though only someone with a purpose-designed compressor tool for it can access the cluster. Possibly, VW's done this to force the driver to take the vehicle instead to the dealer for any of the bulbs to be replaced - with of course commensurate charges.

The flap doesn't even open far enough, IMHO.

If you look very closely at the mechanism with a torch you might just be able to see that the nylon part doesn't screw in or out but instead is meant to be pushed in (and then later released out). There's a little pip in the outer part of the nylon barrel which, if you can push down the nylon bit far enough, will move down to a 'catchment'. It appears to be a sort of latching arrangement. In some cases, the pip can be on the side hidden from you, so you might not realise it's there. Once in the latched position, the mechanism is freed up and you should be able to withdraw the entire cluster, albeit with the electrical connector still attached, from the rear of the car. But it's a matter of getting that pip into that catchment that's the issue; you're working in a tiny opening and against huge pressure from the spring. I've now had two good tries at it, but without success.

Incidentally, it strikes me that if you simply try to unscrew the nylon piece and you force it more and more to start the unscrewing, you'll round off, or even completely break off, the pip. You'll then never be able to get it to latch and, who knows, you might then have to buy a whole new rear lens assembly, which would doubtless cost a veritable fortune.

Compressing the spring will certainly free the nylon bit, with its pip, sufficiently to be pushed to the latched position, but a pair of stout pliers won't help in this, as you need to compress the spring evenly, over at least two or three turns of the spring. It's a bit like relieving the pressure on a suspension coilspring; you need two compressors, one on each side(s) of the spring. The pip needs to move a mere 1/8th inch to latch, but moving it is easier said than done.

What would certainly help would be better access into that cavity. With a craft knife or a scalpel you could extend the cut of the flap horizontally by another 3 inches or so. If you made the cut neatly it wouldn't unduly spoil the trim. Alternatively, you could try drilling or punching a neat hole in the trim - say, 1/4 inch diameter - in line with the top of the nylon bit. Then, from outside the trim you could feed a long, stout screwdriver through the hole, to engage in the slot in the nylon piece. Maybe then you could exert enough downward pressure on the nylon piece? Although there are other vent holes around that area of the trim, you could then, if necessary, close off the hole you've made with a rubber blanking grommet, just to keep it looking neat. On balance, though, I favour an extended slit, as that would also give you far better (indeed, feasible!) access also to the electrical connector. However, if it transpires that the connector lead is long enough, perhaps you can pull off the connector once you've withdrawn the cluster?

I'll have another attempt tomorrow.

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:52 pm

Okay, so now I've achieved what I wanted to, ie get these rear clusters off a 2015 6C Polo!

1) rotate the plastic catch/handle on the trim flap
2) using a small screwdriver, reach in and ease out the red locking tab from the cluster connector, then press down on the latch and ease the connector out from the cluster, please note here that some duff head has made sure that the wiring harness is too short for you to get the cluster out, then disconnect the plug(unlike much earlier 2002 etc 9N Polos - progress??? - not!)
3)unscrew the (very tight first time round) plastic screw with the way over speced spring using maybe a pair of soft jawed pliers gripping on the spring - don't bother trying to fight with the "winged" end.
4)locate your shiny new headlight/taillight removal tool behind the cluster after trying to ease it out a bit - the spring gripping locator is half way down the face nearest the edges of the car.
5)apply a spot of plastic compatible lubricant to both the thread and the spreader area of the plastic that seats on the car body.

Bulbs:- REAR RHS RHD top P21W(brake light) middle W16W(tail light) lower inner PY21W (amber indic) lower outer H21W (rear fog)
REAR LHS RHD top P21W(brake light) middle W16W(tail light) lower inner PY21W (amber indic) lower outer P21W (reverse)
Front only for cars with LED Headlights WY21W (amber indic)


Edited to include front turn indicator bulb for LED headlights only.
Last edited by RUM4MO on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by veteran » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:58 pm

Rum4mo,

First of all, congratulations on a successful job.

I've obviously read your staged instructions but I'm very wary of VW making minor alterations to things like this, year on year. The arrangement on your 6C could well be different on my 6R. I can't, for instance, even begin to get to the electrical connector; the trim flap opening is just too small to gain proper access to the connector. And I've already tried your stage 3 but the plastic screw (as we're now calling it) on mine doesn't budge at all. I think that what I'll have to do is extend the slit in the trim to provide a bigger opening. I should then be able to get a wide-bladed screwdriver on the end of the plastic screw. I think it'll then be a matter of pushing down on the spring whilst turning the screw in the appropriate direction.

I don't recall gaining access to the rear light cluster being anything like as difficult as this on my previous VW. And, as you say, Haynes's description for pre-2014 models suggest that it's a matter of simply unscrewing the plastic screw. No mention of pushing against the spring or latching. But that was with pretty much all surrounding felt trim removed or folded back.

In one way I can understand VW's thinking on this - the mechanism has to be such that a non-technical driver could gain access to the cluster to change a bulb without additional tools to those normally supplied with the car, but at the same time it needing to be done with a single fixing which has to steadfastly keep the cluster assembly in place, with no prospect of it working loose. Hence the tough spring. They've possibly overdone it in my case, though. And that flap opening on mine is definitely nowhere near large enough.

I'll be trying mine again tomorrow, so watch this space.

Incidentally, does it matter that, in the process of doing this, you've had difficulty in defining which bulb corresponds to which function? Surely, the important thing is that you carry onboard at least one of each of the bulbs in the cluster, so that you can always be sure that if one of them blows while you're out on the road you can readily replace it.

(Maybe a minute drop of WD40 or similar, squirted where the top of the plastic screw bears on to the spring, will reduce the friction there?).

BTW, where can I get the sort of protective tool to which you've referred?

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:44 pm

veteran, first if your Polo is a 2017 model, it will be a 6C, although there will be mention of 6R somewhere in it as well for confusion.

That complex over engineered pair of plastic lumps with a spring is fixed, as you say it will just be a means of providing "retention" or "self locking" of that plastic screw assembly - the slots etc will be to enable initial assembly of this sub unit - this comment is aimed to answer your suggestion to put a drop of WD-40 on - there is no movement between the two parts at that point - the only permitted movement once that fixing has been assembled is the movement of the lower spring stop/platform "upwards" under extreme spring compression.

My concern about correctly identifying which bulb does what function was just to try and clear all this up in one posting, that was all, I've checked the Halford's website but it does not like the 2015 reg of my wife's Polo, manually entering the car year and type reveals as is normal with Halfords, some wrong bulb versions. Somewhere else I checked also offered wrong bulb types which lead to question what I had written down in the case of the rear fog light - as that bulb gets listed as the reversing light, plus most of the other rear bulb types I've sourced from many places and recorded for future use, were also wrong!!

I have quite small hands, but even I found working through that too small hole in the trim a bit of a joke.

The main reason, I feel, that is stopping you unscrewing these cluster retaining screws is that they have been fitted, at factory, far too tight!

Once again, is your Polo a 5 door car, if so it will probably have been built in South Africa - which might just limit the number of cars suffering from this problem, I think only RHD 5 door cars (Polo) , except GTI were built in South Africa.

Any pipe wrenches/grips will be suitable to turn that assembly by grabbing round the spring, I was just saying what type of tool I initially used as it stopped making any marks on the plastic - as if that mattered!

Edit:- what surprises me is that the thread in the rear clusters has not given up the ghost with the load that must have been on it due to that spring being compressed.

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by ciclo » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:55 am

Image...interesting conversation.

Image

Free link to ETKA viewtopic.php?f=10&t=42713#p466570
At this point you would have already known all the bulbs installed on your 6C with total clarity.

Now, the nylon bolt:
1K8945300 it's the same part for 6R and 6C ...

More info
viewtopic.php?f=56&t=58703&start=405#p482810

Some videos
6C RHD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsRPwHPiTHU
6R RHD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x3luXziM_Y
6R LHD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-xLhlzGobQ

It may be a specific problem with your 6C taillights and nylon bolts, but I can assure you that it is possible to remove the securing element (nylon bolt) with your hands.
You are right, it is not easy, the first time they are removed is a little more difficult. Insist with a little more tenacity. :wink:

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by Dink » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:22 am

i notice in that list that there are halogen lamps quoted

wonder if the are a fit for the reversing light to make it slightly brighter than the zippo lighter they fit to the 6c gti

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:41 am

Halogen swop for reversing light, the base is completely different - for proof nip into your local Halfords and compare the bases of P21W and H21W - though I might be wrong about them having different bases!

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Re: Anyone accessed tail lights on 2014-17 Polo 1.2 TSI or similar?

Post by RUM4MO » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:53 am

Ciclo, quote "It may be a specific problem with your 6C taillights and nylon bolts, but I can assure you that it is possible to remove the securing element (nylon bolt) with your hands.
You are right, it is not easy, the first time they are removed is a little more difficult. Insist with a little more tenacity."

I was asking the OP if his car was a 5 door as all 5 door RHD Polo with the exception of GTI are built in South Africa - just in case this is a "manufacturing plant" specific issue, ie these parts are being overtightened at initial assembly.

If I get bored, I might just drive down to my local VW dealer and look around their Polo - if they have one in the showroom - and if it is 5 door and has that problem, then I'll try to force them to do something about it.

Remember, there are quite clear rules for new cars being put on sale in EU countries, and these rules mandate that all light bulbs that are required to comply with local road "rules", must be able to be replaced at the side of the road by the owner/driver without using special tools and without stripping down any other parts of the car - this was written into the "rules of engagement" because too many cars were being launched where you had to remove the bumper to replace a bulb.

Edit:- thanks for confirming the bulb usages by wattage though, that confirms what I had written and my posting of specific bulb types makes it easier for people to source bulbs to maybe update their spare bulb kit from a car parts place instead of the dealer.

Another Edit:- as for that "securing element" design, I worked in military aero industry all my working life, and yes you can design a fool proof fitting/bolt/screw - or "securing element" - but when the unit cost needs to be kept low there is simply no chance of being able to achieve that and have a useable fixing like VW Group have come up with, in my mind a complete fail even when hand tightened to what we should expect is "normal" tightness - that spring is a "beast" hugely over spec'd and so a complete failure. It would have been cleverer if the design used a light spring and ratchet method that you needed to lift slightly to take of, that way if the spring was of correct quality it could tolerate being compressed always when the fixture was tightened.
Last edited by RUM4MO on Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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