Slow wiper mechanism repair


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Mar 28, 2008
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There are guides for a RHD B5 and a LHD B6 so I thought I'd throw together a few words for the RHD B6.

The slow wiper problem seems to be fairly widespread in the A4's, and is caused by the spindles slowly seizing tight in the sleeves of the mounting mechanism. The mechanism can be replaced for �70 ish or stripped down and regreased within a couple of hours.

You need some emery cloth or similar, and I used Coppaslip grease to regrease them. Apologies for the picture quality, I just grabbed shots as I went.

It would probably be sensible to disconnect the battery while you do this.

First off I marked where the wipers sat on the screen with some tape, to ensure they went back in the same place.


A little pick or something to remove the end caps on the wiper arms.


A 17mm socket to remove the mounting nut.


Getting the arms off can be tricky, don't twist them on the spindle as you may damage the splines. Wiggle them from 12 to 6 O'clock and they 'should' come off. If they're really on there then a tool like this will be required for about �10.


Once they're both off you're left with this: If you've got a battery cover fitted then you'll need to remove that. Start by pulling the rubber seal off;


The whole tray can then be removed:


The plastic scuttle cover at the base of the screen needs to come off next, there are three clips as shown below (ALL mine were missing :think: ) Getting this off is pretty difficult, and I broke mine. When I get a replacement I will update with the part number as it's only about �15. It sits in a small few mm deep groove in the base of the screen, and mine had 7 years of crud holding it in place. Some users have had good results using warm soapy water first to help remove the cover.







This is mine coming out:


And the broken bit left behind, you can see where it has broken off leaving part of it in the channel.


Next step is then to remove the ECU cover, requires a torx driver.


The ECU clips out and can be folded out the way.



By now you should be able to clearly see the three 10mm bolts holding the whole mechanism in, remove all three.




The mechanism will now be loose, but trapped in. The base of the ECU box can be undone and shifted out the way enough to allow you to twist the mechanism out. Getting this out took me a few minutes, and you might find more flexibility by popping off a couple of the knuckles in the mechanism with a prybar. My hands were a bit grubby by this point so I've not really got any good photo's - but it's fairly self explanatory.

Once the mechanism is out you need to disconnect the motor. The plug has a catch on the underside which needs to be slid in the direction of the arrow to release it.


Once the mechanism is out you're here:


The passenger side wasn't too stiff on mine, but I had a job to move the drivers side. I've heard of some people needing heat to fee them off, so I guess I was lucky ..... There's a C clip to remove and a few washers and an O ring - make a note of the order they came off in.

I wound the nut right one and put the socket on to knock it through.



These are the parts to keep an eye on:


And this is the spindle, mine didn't look too bad compared to some I've seen.


Using the emery cloth I cleaned up the spindle, and also the inside of the sleeve:


Once this is properly done I lubricated it all plentifully with Coppaslip and reassembled:


As all good Haynes manuals say "Refit is the reverse of removal":



My wipers have never been so quick! In all it took me about three hours, but I was faffing about taking pictures, and also gave under the scuttle area a very good clean as I was spraying WD40 in there in copious amounts over the last 6 months in an attempt to keep the wipers moving!
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well done james the only bad thing is you done audi out of a few quid.
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Apologies for the picture quality, I just grabbed shots as I went.
Yeah you should be. and there aren't very many of them. and a rubbish write up.

**edit** I should add that the above is sarcasm, which I hope is obvious but perhaps not. Excellent job James :thumbsup:
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Very useful post but one thing I would say. The wipers completely seizing up is usually because people spray the linkage with the dreaded wd40. I know because I did this. Freed them off with some '3 in 1' spray and they've been right as 'rain' since.
Water Deflector Part Number:

8E2 819 403 A01C

£14.73 from TPS
Cheers for the write up, I really need to sort mine out, I have been using WD40 now for about 2 months, and this weather is slowing them down again.

Will get a rain thingy ordered from Audi.. is this the best place? who is TPS as mentioned above?

Looks like it could be a fun day doing it, knowing my look I will lose the ECU or something silly!:blush:
What a comprehensive & detailed effort. I've kept my wipers ticking over with the occasional squirt of WD40 but as soon as the weather improves a little I'll be performing the operation.......thanks again
Avoid WD40 Like the plague, it strips out any remaining grease but is easily washed out!! Use a can od spray copper grease. I sprayed mine last year and they havent slowed since. No need to remove anything, sand anything Break anything!!
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The use of any lubricant will only delay this, if they've started to slow then you will eventually need to sort it out properly.
Thanks mate for the info, the wife had informed me yesterday that the wipers seemed really slow. I must admit carrying this out today has really tried my patience (what a pain in the ****). I found it to be the drivers side spindle to be seized solid so god knows how they were working. I stripped down both spindles, cleaned then re-packed with coppergrease. What a difference this has made. Just for everyones info if two people are working on the car you can get the wiper linkage out without taking the window scuttle trim off (mine didn't want to come off) by just prising the link bars off the knuckles.

Price from TPS derby was £68 in vat
Hi, Thanks for such a detailed posting ! - just done exactly the same thing on my A4 (2000) 1.8 petrol model.
The reason why the spindles lock is because, the the spindle housing (white metal) has two phosphur bronze
bushes pushed in either end, they do NOT meet in the middle ! - they leave a gap of about 10mm in the middle !
This white metal then starts to corrode, and it is this white powdery residue that eventually "strangles" the spindle !
Successful outcome, thanks to your post - many thanks !
A massive thank you to quattrojames for this great DIY write up, without it I wouldn't have had the confidence to take this on and Audi would have relieved me of another few hundred pounds. Had to get help from another pair of hands in the end as I needed one to hold the Ecu and the Ecu box while the other puzzled out and then removed the linkage. As said in the OP and by earlier posts, I stripped it down, cleaned up and lubed with plenty of copper slip and replaced the worn rubber O rings with new ones and it works as good as new.

Going to try a smear of silicon grease on the top of the spindle and wiper arm nut, just before the plastic cover cap goes on to try and eliminate any future moisture ingress.

Great result and thank you James.
Excellent write-up with photos. Will be stripping mine this weekend.

Does anyone know if same (mechanical) problem would be affecting wash-wipe system. Basically, I pull the lever for a wash, and the blooming wipers stayed on for about 5 minutes after. Thinking this is an electronic module controlled function?, I switched ignition off/on again to try and reset, but wipers continued to wipe continuously for 5 mins. Same happens when try the lever flick down with no wash. Anybody any ideas what this may be, and where would the offending faulty module be located?
I did this last summer - thanks for the excellent write up - driver's side was the seizing one on mine - right next to a water channel, passenger came out with a tap, driver's came out with several hard taps. I put an insane amount of grease all over the mechanism and for about a month my wipers worked like they were on ecstasy! They've settled down now, working good nearly a year on.
My wipers were slow for months, until I went on holiday for 2 weeks and returned to find them seized all together. I followed the above guide, apart from snapping a bracket off the linkage, that wasn't in the guide. I ordered the new linkage from Audi, and collected it today. I've spent the day popping the ball joints out of the old linkage to attach the new one. Got everything put back together, put the wipers on, they don't work. They go down the way first!!! What have I done wrong? I could cry. Been stood out in unbelievably heavy rain for around 6 hours. Bad day!
My wipers were slow for months, until I went on holiday for 2 weeks and returned to find them seized all together. I followed the above guide, apart from snapping a bracket off the linkage, that wasn't in the guide. I ordered the new linkage from Audi, and collected it today. I've spent the day popping the ball joints out of the old linkage to attach the new one. Got everything put back together, put the wipers on, they don't work. They go down the way first!!! What have I done wrong? I could cry. Been stood out in unbelievably heavy rain for around 6 hours. Bad day!

There was no such bracket on my car, maybe yours is different.

Presumably you ran the mechanism with the arms off and allowed them to park before you put the arms back on?
It's was 1 of the 3 bits that you bolt into place on the linkage. No, I just reassembled them, going off a picture from the net as a guide. I'm of the impression I need to take the whole thing out, detach the motor, plug it in and turn it on. When it settles in the stop position, reattach the linkage. But, I could be wrong. Again.
Thanks save me some money and running around...the wipers work like brand new..ready for winter...
I gave this a go on Saturday.
It couldnt have gone any worse to be honest - Monty Python couldnt have done any better.

Firstly, upon removal of the plastic covering (at the bottom of the windscreen) I managed to chip the windscreen, this then grew to a crack over the day!

Upon removal of the splined shaft from the wiper mechanism, I missed with the hammer and broke one of the mechanism mounts.
All cleaned, greased, put back together and re-fitted - only to find that when I re-installed the wiper arms, the wiper blades didnt touch the windscreen in the centre - found that I bent the mechanism slightly when removing the tapered shafts.

Back out again to straighten - upon re-fitting for the 2nd time The thread snapped off the tapered shaft on the passenger side! (must have weakend it when I was stripping it down) Managed to have a friend drill and tap it for the time being.

So yeah, I need a new windscreen and wiper mechanism.... Saturday wasnt my day.
Very common issue at the min I did mine Saturday also, went ok till I refitted to realise id forgotten to put the ecu clip back in then when removing again I completely destroyed the scuttle trim, and I had same issue with blades not sitting right, managed to get them done with a bit of brute force, and I threaded one of the mechanism fixings so I slipped a nut and washer behind to hold it in place, on a plus side my wipers have never worked so well...
Did mind last weekend, got so slow it was dangerous!
Took it all apart fine, although struggled getting the wipers off without that little puller.
I couldn't move the drivers side my hand, even stiff in the vice, don't know how it was still moving! Passenger side was fine.
Just a warning, clamp the aluminium section in the vice, don't rely on the mounting bracket! I was tapping the spindle out 'gently' and tinkle tinkle the mounting bracket fell off!!! ******. Had to get the areldite type glue out and build it up to give it support and left it a day to cure and give it the best chance of holding.
Well seems to be holding fine.

Well had the dreaded slow wipers syndrome this weekend. I had read the guide in the past so wasnt surprised to see it happen but thanks to this I knew the solution.

Was a right pain to get both the arms off and the water deflector panel. Inevitably I managed to snap tear the water deflector on 2 but at least the windscreen stayed intact.

Got a new panel on order from audi. £16

Both spindles were seized almost completely but a good soak in penetrating fluid and some toing and frowing and they were off. They was a fair amount of corrosion in the sleeve. Cleaned and some copper slip and hey presto my wipers are better than ever.

Thanks James to the guide its saved me a fair few eurodollars.
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I also did mine this weekend using this guide, only thing I did that wasn't mentioned was used hot soapy water on the scuttle panel, I cannot compare it to using without soapy water, but one I got it lifted at one end it practically jumped out into my hand
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I also did mine this weekend using this guide, only thing I did that wasn't mentioned was used hot soapy water on the scuttle panel, I cannot compare it to using without soapy water, but one I got it lifted at one end it practically jumped out into my hand

That would have been a great bit of info to have as. Probably would have saved me wrecking mines. But its only £16 I suppose.

Just happy I never cracked the screen.

Maybe the guide could be updated to include the soapy water bit
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Cheers guys, I'll amend the original.
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This is a brilliant thread! I've just done my partner's 2002 B6 Cabriolet this morning and as you said, it took about three hours from start to finish.
I would add that the scuttle panel is quite easy to remove by twisting it upwards in the centre section fairly firmly until it snaps out. It can then be followed along by twisting upwards on both sides to the ends. For those about to do the same, the panel is held in place by a barbed lug that runs the length of the panel. This locates in a narrow channel directly under the screen. By twisting upwards it is pulled forward slightly until it pops out.
I couldn't believe how tight the off side spindle was! It took some knocking out, so much so that the sleeve inside the cast alloy bit was displaced downwards which I had to tap back into place using a couple of sockets. Without this adjustment, I couldn't get the circlip back into the groove as it was too low and hidden below the top washer.
Thanks Quatrojames for the post, it must have saved me, like others have mentioned, hundreds of pounds should it have gone to the local Audi dealership. (It's cost me more than any other car I've ever had btw. Don't get me started on the cost of engine oil).
Changed my water deflector,aero wipers and overhauled the mechanism the other week,great write up with really clear instructions,made my life a lot easier :)
My wipers were so seized on 3 years ago when i did this i had to heat 1 of them with a blow torch to free it as I didnt have a removal tool at the time. In doing this i melted a bit of the wind deflector in the middle so bought a fresh 1 from audi. I never got around to fitting the fresh deflector and its that long ago that my wipers have slowed down yet again and need re-doing!

This time I've got the fresh deflector and a wiper romoval tool at my disposal but was wondering if anyone knows how much a fresh mechanism would be from audi?

Think I'll just rebuild mine again then for that money, audi should be giving them away for making such a hash of the original design!
Just did this to my 2003 cab. Impossible to overstate what a total B***ch EVERY SINGLE STAGE of this process is. I have never had such trouble getting wiper arms off a car? What is wrong with Audi? Totally p*ss poor design if this happens to everybody, then the difficulty of getting the simplest thing fixed beggars belief. Really makes me miss my lovely reliable Alfa Romeo! On the plus side my wipers now go like Lance Armstrong on the way home from the chemist...
Had to tackle this today as wife reported no wipers, but that they did move once (so not a fuse/dead motor). Googling turned up this thread.

My experience:

Water shedder/scuttle thingy lifted out nicely, got it going in front of passenger side then gently worked it around

Didn't move the ECU lower box, found that prising off the knuckles for RHS wiper and one in the centre allowed sufficient clearance to remove. I also undid the 13mm brass looking nut above the motor to remove the LHS arm. Careful to keep it aligned.

RHS (Drivers side UK) was absolutely solid, don't know how the motor was moving it, LHS was free and easy (so I left this alone)

RHS took some effort to get out, lots of hammering and easing. Don't rest the RHS fitting (where the 10mm bolt fixes) on a block of wood and then bang with a hammer, it will break off (mine did so had to sned another hour or so with superglue, mettallic filler and duct tape effecting a temporary repair)

Once all cleaned up and prepped, difficult to get the circlip back on, so I used some washers/spacers to tighten down the spindle withe the wiper nut

Putting the knuckles back on proved tricky also, requiring significant levered pressure. Take care to lever against the boxed underside of the screen otherwise it could crack screen?

All back together and working beautifully. Thanks to OP for great tutorial.
Going to be attempting this tomorrow - weather permitting. Watch this space!:audibash:
Going to be attempting this tomorrow - weather permitting. Watch this space!:audibash:

Well - That was fun FIVE hours. I managed to remove the wiper assembly without removing the rain shield thingy -no clips holding it in, but I couldn't seem to prize it loose so I just went for it and was lucky enough not to break anything.
The drivers side was as free as anything, the passenger side was a whole different story, it was seized solid. I had to resort to a blow torch and large hammer to shift it, and even then the bottom most bronze bush came out still firmly attached to the spline.
Again, copious amounts of heat and I managed to loosen the bush off, a solid hour of Dremel work with a rotary wire brush on both the shaft and the sleeve and it once again runs freely.

Excellent original post Quattrojames - it's been a huge help and money saver.
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It's a great right up and very informative!

However there is one thing to note that TPS is open to the trade only and not for public!
I know this because I sent a customer there and they turned him to the dealer.
Apologies for resurrecting this one but I've just had a serious battle and try as I may I simply couldn't manoeuvre the mechanism out!

I released the ECU cover, moved ECU out of the way and also unscrewed the ECU box so that I could wiggle it around, but no amount of cajoling could get the mechanism out. 3 bolts released fine, and mechanism moves around in its area, but I couldn't twist it out - between the brake servo, the ECU box, as well as the metal frame below the windscreen it's stuck. The connector for the wiper motor also seemed to be in the way but I couldn't see how to release it without getting the mechanism out first!

There was mention of "popping off the knuckles" of the mechanism but I couldn't see what was meant by this at all.

I thought about releasing the ECU connectors that were underneath the ECU box through the hole at the back of bottom of the box but couldn't see how to access these connectors sufficiently to remove them either (and was scared of causing damage!).

Does anyone have any other ideas as to how to get the mechanism out?

If it makes any difference this is on a 2003 A4 Cabriolet, 3.0 V6. The strange thing is that everything looked exactly the same as in the pictures - that area doesn't seem any more crowded on mine.

Thanks again for a fantastic write up!
Wow I'm so glad I see this thread. This morning it was raining on the way to work and I went to use my wipers and they was so slow I thought the motor was on its way out. I've not used my wipers in a couple of weeks due to the warm weather so I don't think that has helped. I work in a breakers yard so I've managed to get a 2nd hand wiper motor and linkage which works spot on but I think before I remove my old unit I'm going to do the work on the new part before I fit it so then I know it's all good to go. Thanks for the great write up
thanks for posting this its sorted my wipers out, I thought it may have been the motor but when I stripped it out they where practically sized, you couldnt move them by hand. With a bit of faffing about the job took me around 3 hours in all.