The B6 S4/A4 (and maybe B7?) models have a known problem with the glove box hinges. They break. Often. Especially the right-hand hinge.
My B6 S4 broke the right-hand hinge a few weeks ago. I went to open the glove box, and the lid just dropped down on the right hand side. I thought WTF? as it was perfectly fine when I closed it. How did it break all by itself when in a closed position?
The answer lies in three problems.
1. The latches on either side of the lid that hold the lid in a closed position do not always "latch" properly - resulting in frustration that sometimes causes owners to slam the lids shut to attempt to "latch" the lid. DO NOT DO THIS!
Why? Because there is a lid DAMPING mechanism that is connected to the right hand hinge, with a little cylinder and a piston that PREVENTS the lid from opening or closing too quickly. Slamming the lid shut places a LOT of stress on the plastic hinge on the right hand side, because the damper is trying to force the hinge to move slowly!
So, the first issue is the latches not always catching properly and someone slamming the lid shut. (I know I've done this in the past!). Close the lid slowly and press firmly on the top of the lid on both sides, especially on the right hand side. The lid should latch properly.
2. The damper mechanism on the right hand hinge places a LOT of stress on that hinge. The mechanism also tends to "bind" when the piston stops sliding freely in the plastic cylinder. Audi apparently have a TSB on this, to lubricate the cylinder and piston with some Silicon Spray. Mine was fairly stiff, so I sprayed it with silicon spray and this definitely made a difference. Some folks use a tiny drill bit to drill a small hole (1/16" or so) in the end of the cylinder, to reduce the pressure / vacuum in the cylinder, and provide less stress on the hinge. Note that this will reduce the damping effect when you open the lid. I did not do this, as I felt the combo of the lubrication and the repair itself provides sufficient strength to the right hand hinge to avoid further problems.
3. The glove box lid is HEAVY and the hinges are simply molded plastic. This is a poor design. The hinges should be a steel bracket. We will fix this in the repair below.
OK, so we know that the hinges break (especially the right hand hinge).
What are the fixes?
Well, you could take the car to the Audi dealer and pay $450 for a new glove box lid and installation.....and possibly be left with the same problem in a year to two's time.
Or....you could fix the problem permanently for $30 plus some general garage consumables, with no special tools, and a VERY easy fix.
I chose the latter!
OK...so on to the actual repair.
First, you need to hook up with a guy by the name of Fritz, who is a member of audizine called "PCYC." (Yes, I have invited him to join euroaddiction as well).
EDIT: Fritz has joined Euroaddiction as the same member name "PCYC" - so send him a PM here if you need a bracket(s)!
He makes a VERY nice steel L-shaped bracket that is strong, curved properly to match the lid and hinge, is nicely finished with pre-drilled holes for 3 supplied steel screws and is painted mat black to be unnoticeable when you open the lid. He sells the bracket and screws in a little kit for $30 per side. This is a #$%@ deal. It is a really nicely made part, and he delivers very quickly. I used paypal for a painless payment to Fritz.
This is a pic of the bracket from Fritz, together with the broken hinge (I didn't show the three screws he also provides for the bracket)...
OK, so with the bracket in hand, you will need the following tools and supplies.
- Needle nosed pliers
- Small steel cutters (snips)
- hammer (seriously)
- 1/16" drill bit and drill
- 10MM socket and drive (I used a cheap 1/4" screwdriver type driver)
- Silicon spray lubricant
- medium cross-head (Philips) screwdriver
OK, once you have all of this together...
- a small tube of Epoxy (JB Weld etc) and
It is MUCH easier to do the repair with the whole glove box removed from the car. Not just the lid, but the whole unit, which includes the panel underneath above the passenger's feet.
The glove box module comes out as a unit, after removing 9 (NINE) 10MM screws. Each screw has a captive washer. No need to worry about nuts on the other end....the screws screw directly in the dash frame. See the picture of these screws here...
NOTE: You need to the remove the plastic trim cover on the side of the dash. This cover is accessible with the passenger door open, and pops right off (no screws). There is a little cutout at the bottom of the cover to allow you to insert a small screwdriver to pop it off.
Seven of the nine screws are inside the glove box itself. The other two are underneath, on each side. Unscrew those bottom screws first.
Then, open the lid (which is presumably broken, so carefully hold the lid while unscrewing the seven screws inside the glove box. Ignore the little rubber bump stops...just unscrew the 7 screws inside the box.
Note: Two of the screws are almost hidden from sight, near the front, upper side. Get down and look up inside the glove box and you will see these two screws.
Once all nine screws are removed, simply pull the whole glove box module out from the dash. Note that there is a large, light-brown electrical connector that supplies the power to the glove box light and the footwell lights. See below...
Disconnect the brown connector, and remove the whole glove box module from the car.
This is what it looks like...
OK, now we must remove the little plastic pin that connects the damper piston to the right-hand hinge.
Use the needle nose pliers to remove that little pin on the end of the damper piston.
Remove the electrical connector from the damper mechanism. The damper mechanism includes the switch for the glove box light.
Then, remove the actual damper mechanism from the module by turning the cylinder about 90 degrees like this....
This is to line up the damper hinge with the slots in the module bracket so that you can pull the damper mechanism off. Note the angle of the slots here (with damper removed so you can see the slots)....
I was a little hamfisted and broke off the little tangs on the damper mount, but it still works OK. The damper pulls out of the mount easily if you swivel it to the same angle as the slots above.
This is the damper assembly....
OK, so now we need to lubricate the damper mechanism with the silicon spray. I used this stuff, but any silicon spray will do...
To lubricate the damper, we need to separate the piston assembly from the cylinder. This is easy. Simply twist the cylinder 90 degrees so that the electrical connector is 180 degrees away from the damper mount, and pop the top of the cylinder cap off the cylinder with your thumb.
It will look like this....
OK, now you can just pull the piston assembly out of the cylinder. If it's really stiff/stuck, then use the needle nose pliers to grab one of the hinge tangs on the piston and pull it straight out.
The piston assembly on the left and the cylinder on the right....
Now, spray the rubber piston seal with the silicon spray and spray the inside of the cylinder with the spray.
Now, you need to make a choice. You can decide to further remove stress by reducing the affect of the damper on the hinge, by drilling a small hole with the 1/16" drill bit into the END of the cylinder....or you can leave it as standard. Drilling the hole will remove much of the damping force, but will also let the lid drop down quicker and perhaps place even more stress on the hinges unless you remember to lower the lid slowly by hand.
I chose to leave the (lubricated) damper mechanism as it is, without the hole, as the steel bracket that we will repair the hinge with, is strong and I don't believe we will have any further issue.
OK, now reassemble the damper on the glove box module and reconnect the electrical connector. Keep the little plastic damper hinge pin that connects to the broken hinge to one side, until after we have repaired the hinge and remounted the lid.
So, now to the hinge repair, using the bracket from Fritz, and (optionally), the epoxy weld.
We need to remove the lid by removing the hinge pins that hold the lid to the module. One will likely still be connected to the lid (the left side) and one broken off already (the right side) but you need to remove the hinge anyway to affect the repair.
The hinge pins are VERY easy to remove (unlike what you may have read from guys who did not remove the glove box module!)
Take the pair of cutters (like these below)....
and lightly close their jaws onto the groove on the end of the pin hinge....like this....
Now, take your hammer, and strike the cutters sideways in the direction that is needed to pull the pins out sideways, with a sharp rap to the cutters. Both of my hinge pins came off with a single, medium strength hit to the cutters. VERY easy!
With the hinge pins out of the way, the glove box lid can now be removed from the module.
Now, take the bracket from Fritz, and do a test fit without the screws but with the broken hinge, to see how the angle of the bracket is for the hinge.
NOTE: My bracket should have been ever so slightly opened out (i.e. the angle of the shorter side of the "L" should have been slightly wider, for a perfect fit.) It is important to get the angle right so that the broken hinge fits neatly onto the lid. You can sense this angle, by seeing how the broken hinge fits the lid where the stress fracture is. If you don't get the angle right, the hinge on the right may not allow the lid to fully open (i.e. if the angle is a little "closed" then that hinge will come up against it's rubber stopper before the left hand hinge. I didn't bend or tweak the bracket at all, and it works, but I should have opened the bracket angle maybe 10-15 degrees to be perfect.
Anyway, once you have the bracket and broken hinge lined up nicely, I suggest that you pre-drill the three holes for the screws with the 1/16" drill but be careful to NOT drill all the way through the lid!
Pre-drilling the holes makes screwing and tightening the screws into their countersunk holes on the bracket MUCH easier, and puts less stress on the lid and hinge plastic.
So, once you have drilled the holes, making sure the hinge is as tight as possible back into it's original position, screw the bracket and hinge together with the medium Philips screwdriver. Make sure that the screw on the hinge side is fully countersunk into the bracket, otherwise the head of the screw will catch on the glove box module when you try to open the lid.
Now, re-install the lid and hinge pins for a test try. Open and close the lid to check that the angle of the repaired hinge is correct so that the lid opens fully and the rubber bump stops on each hinge both contact at the same time. (I neglected this part, before I added some epoxy to the broken hinge as further strengthening. Don't make the same mistake as me, otherwise your lid will not open to the 100% full open position)
Tweak the angle of the bracket if necessary. (It's easy to remove the lid pins and unscrew the bracket and it's worth the time to adjust the bracket if necessary)
OK, now you make another choice. You can decide to use some epoxy to add to the broken hinge (i.e. using both epoxy AND the steel bracket, or only the bracket). I decided to use some epoxy, so I mixed a little JB Weld and applied to both the sides of the stress fracture and then screwed the bracket down and left the epoxy to set for 10 hours.
Once dry, I used the file to file down any globs of epoxy that would catch on the glove box module when you open the lid. The end result looks like this (the filed epoxy is the lighter color in the pic. You could hit it up with some mat black paint if you prefer to reduce the visibility)
And that's it....the bracket is really strong, and probably doesn't need the epoxy.
Re-install the lid and hinge pins. Get the hinges lined up with lid not fully latched, push the pins in by hand and then tap them home with the hammer.
Line up the damper piston hinge with the right hand bracket hole and insert the small plastic hinge pin by hand.
Take the whole module to the car, lower it into the footwell, and reconnect the brown electrical connector for the glove box and footwell lights, and re-install the 7 screws inside the glove box and finally the bottom two screws under the glove box in the footwell.
Reinstall the side cover back on.
Now, go and enjoy a STRONGER, SMOOTHER, glove box lid for and buy some beers to celebrate the $420 you saved by not taking it to the dealer!