Glove box door and handle FAQ and repair for mk4 VW

Dec 3, 2014
Glove box door and handle FAQ and repair for mk4 VW

  • Broken glove box door and handle FAQ and repair for Volkswagen VW(top)


    How to fix your broken glove box on VW Golf or Jetta -glovebox door, latch, repair, and swap(top)


    General glove box FAQ(top)

    The glove box handle often breaks on the early mk4 cars. Try to be gentle when opening and closing the glove box because the latch, hinge, and internal mechanism can break. This article saved the original pictures and rearranges a few existing writeups into one readable FAQ article. I archived this content because the original pictures were gone and lost from another site. Combining them with new comments also helps explain some of the procedures. Pics throughout this page are mirrored from forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?&id=2219302&postid=23813247#23813247, forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=1188044&page=2, forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=958556, forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2430591, forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2359362

    Basic glove box function and failure modes(top)

    The glove box/door can come out as one whole unit (7 torx screws). The door uses two hinges on the bottom and two slider arms at the top which restrict how far the door can open. There is a shock which dampens the movement of the door and is attached to the right hinge on the glove box door. The hinges and door handle/latch are the most likely to break. If you force the door open or closed, it stresses the hinge attached to the shock and breaks the hinge. One possible solution is to reduce the resistance of shock or just be careful when opening/closing the door. VW did change the shock stiffness in later years and later changed the entire glovebox design, you can modify yours instead of buying a new one. The glove box door latch also tends falls off it's hinge. Inside the door are a latch mechanism, these can also fall off their hinges.

    The totally new glove box design(top)

    Around 2002-2003, VW changed the glove box, this FAQ applies to the earlier style glove boxes. The later style glove boxes are much less likely to break due to their design and are also larger. It's possible to swap the early style glove box for the new style, all you have to do is remove a metal scissored piece inside. Here are some of the differences between the early and newer glove boxes:

    Early glove boxes:
    - smaller inside because of extra impact absorbing members surrounding the passenger airbag
    - use spade lightbulb 5W
    - separate switch part which clips on and fails easily due to flimsy plastic
    - separate hinge pins which fail easily
    - separate piston to dampen the door - too stiff and contributes to hinge breakage
    - metallic frame riveted to back of glove box presumably to help spread out impact loads.

    The glove box has been totally redesigned in more recent cars like the R32
    - 20% more interior volume because no impact absorbing members around the passenger airbag
    - uses mini 3W/5W festoon style bulb instead of spade style
    - switch for lightbulb is integrated into the lightbulb fixture via a spring mechanism. The spring is the actual circuit breaker
    - integrated hinge parts
    - instead of a piston, there is a gear which dampens the door

    Feel free to sign up and ask a question about this article at the forums here: myturbodiesel.com forums

    Glove box removal(top)

    Note - it's possible to repair the hinge without removing the glove box assembly so read all the writeups to decide what you want to do.

    First remove the entire glove box assembly. The original author removed the center bracket, armrest, and shifter console to get access to a 7th hidden torx screw on the passenger side. This is not necessary, just remove the 6 visible screws and move the glove box a little to access the 7th screw. If you want to remove the center bracket or shifter console, see 1000q: center console removal. Carefully open the glove box and pry off the side dash panel. The side dash panel pops off.
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    Here is the glove box assembly and a backside view. There are two metal pieces that run down each side of the glove box. There are two hinge pins on the lower left and right side. These pins go into the metal pieces on the back and is the pivot for the glove box door. On the left side there is a shock which controls the motion of the door.
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    Remove the shock (T20 Torx screw). You will need to move the plastic piston of the shock to access the screw.
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    Flip up the plastic shock mount and push the piston into the base of the shock.
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    Remove the 2 black hinge pins that are on the left and right sides of the glove box. Pry the pins out using a screwdriver.
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    Gently push down on the upper hooked plastic slider and you should be able to open the door farther.
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    The lower hinges and the upper sliders should be free, lift the glove box door up and out.
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    You can now replace your old glove box door with a new one, repair the hinges, or modify the shock as shown below. Remember, if you replace the glove box door you will also need to change the glove box lock.

    Glove box latch fell off, internal mechanism broke, or lock cylinder replacement (top)

    There are two things on the handle that can break. The glove box's latch pins can break or the internal opening latch can break. If you replace the door you also have to change the lock cylinder.

    Hinge repair(top)


    There are 2 small metal pivot pins which hold the glove box latch. If you want to remove the latch, lift the latch and pick at the pins and it should come out. They can also fall out on their own, here is a tip to push it back. The problem is that the factory pins are too short to push in when the handle is in place. The original author used 1/8" steel rod stock (from home depot) to increase the diameter and length of the latch pins. The original pins are metric and smaller in diameter so drill out the holes in the handle to 1/8" to take the new pins. You don't need to drill the pin seats in the glove box door, the 1/8" stock can be pushed in with a bit of force (twisting them helps). A tight fit here is really good anyway, since the metric pins tend to fall out by themselves due to looseness.

    In this pic you can see the old pins in the middle and the new pins to the left. Push the original pin into hole and mark the depth with some tape. Then place some wire insulation over the drill so that the new holes will only be drilled as deep as the old holes.
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    Here is a picture of the new pins. The new pins are now long enough to push in from the hole between the handle and the glove box door. Insert the pins from the center and push the pins outward to the positions shown. This picture almost shows the pin end in the slot. You can use a pen knife blade to engage the pins because they only go in a few mm. It also helps to move the handle back and forth slightly while pushing in the pins.
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    Test fit.
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    If the problem is internal, it's possible that one of the internal levers broke. Pry the door skin apart using a blunt pry tool.
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    Once it's open, you can see the white levers and their pivot pins. In the below example, one of the white plastic levers came off due to a broken pivot. A short stubby screw was used to repair. While you're in there, secure the other side too.
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    Lock cylinder replacement (skip if you are not using a new glove box latch)(top)


    If you bought a new glove box door you need to transfer the old lock to the new lock or else the new door won't lock. You could swap your old latch to the glove box door but this is just as easy. There are 4 tabs that hold the lock cylinder. Using some thin pliers, gently bend the tabs back. Be careful because the tabs can break easily. If you are putting the lock cylinder on a new door, try to avoid breaking the tabs so you can have a spare latch, if you don't want to keep the old latch then break away!
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    Bend the upper plastic piece at the top of the handle back and you should be able to push out the cylinder out the front using a screwdriver. Make sure to insert your key before pushing it out or else the tumblers can fall out. If they do, see 1000q: glove box lock cylinder reassembly.
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    Transplant your old lock to the new door latch. Keep the key in the lock and hold the key in the vertical position (the unlocked position). Also make sure that the tab in the back of the lock is on the left side when putting it back. Use your hand to support the door and gently guide the lock back into the glove box handle with the key inserted. The lock should pop in without too much effort. Test the lock with your key to insure that it functions.
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    If you are reusing the door latch, push it in and hope that it snaps into place or use the procedures shown above.

    How to fix a broken glove box door hinge without removing the entire glove box and and modify the shock (top)


    Instead of removing the entire assembly or buying a new door, you can try repairing the glove box on the car.

    Carefully open the glove box and pry off the side dash panel. The side dash panel pops off.
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    In this case, the right side hinge broke. This is the side that is stressed by the shock. Remove the hinge pin by prying it out. The glove box door rotates on this pin and may be tricky to access. Below are some pictures of the glove box totally removed for a better view of the hinge pins.
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    Refer to the picture of the rear of the glove box assembly above. You can see the shock on the left side of the picture. The 7th screw is slightly hidden on the passenger side and you have to wiggle the door to get access to it. Below you can see the shock and it's mount. Remove it.
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    Your goal is to remove the shock along with the broken hinge out of the glove box. The shock twists in the shock mount as you open and close the glove box door. Using a T20 torx bit, disassemble the shock mount from the broken hinge piece.
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    Remove the hinge connector from the top of the shock
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    You now want to modify the shock to have less resistance. Pry off the white plastic cap on the shock. Be careful because the internals are spring loaded. Inside is a piston in a closed cylinder with a return spring. Cut out some of the coil springs to reduce it's resistance.
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    Drill a small hole at the back of the shock body and put a few drops of lubricating oil inside the shock body. This will also reduce the resistance of the shock. Do not use regular grease because grease stiffens when cold. Drilling a hole will also let the air exit faster when the glove box door is forced open or closed, preventing too much tension on the hinges.
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    Reassemble the shock. It still provides some cushioning for the glove box door but should move much easier.

    To fix the broken hinge pieces, use superglue. 5 minute JB weld won't work well because small movements will prevent it from setting correctly. You can use superglue for an initial hold and then use JB weld to reinforce the broken area.
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    You can put the hinge pin and shock back. The hinge pins may need to be tapped in with a hammer and screwdriver. Close the glove box and test it's motion. You will see how the shock-to-hinge pin mount will line up with the front of the shock. The easiest way to test the motion is to slide the pin that connects the shock with the hinge mount.

    How to swap your early style glove box with a later style glove box (top)

    The later style glove box is better than the early style because there are no latch pins to break or stiff hydraulic piston. It is also larger. The only modification is that you have to remove the accordion like bracket and it's bracket underneath the dashboard, pictured below (2 parts). The glove boxes have completely different ways that the light works, but the older style will clip right in and the light will work fine.
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    Below left is the early style glove box, next to it is the new style glove box.
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    Maintenance of early style glove box on VW Golf or Jetta(top)

    If your glove box is still functioning then performing a simple lubrication procedure might keep you from having to exercise the repairs as provided in this article. The shock in these older designs tends to become arthritic and result in too much stress being applied to the hinges (mostly the outboard hinge, which is where the shock is located). Refer to the pictures above for removing the side dash panel. With the panel removed you will see the shock to the rear of the hinge. Take some lubricating oil and apply a few drops to the shaft/strut just in front of where it goes into the body of the shock. SLOWLY open and close the glove box door as the oil coats the spring and the rod. After several operations the door should open and close as new. Lubricate when the door starts feeling stiff and you should be able to avoid breakages.