How-to remove the spoiler from your pre-97 Golf/GTI without losing your third brake light
So you want to remove the factory spoiler from your pre-'97 Golf or GTI, but you don't want to lose the 3rd brakelight that's built into that spoiler. Here's how to do it:
1. Get a Jetta Third Brake Light Get the third brakelight setup from a pre-97 Jetta. This is the thinner "strip" style brakelight, with 14 small bulbs (as opposed to the later "block" style brakelight with one or two bulbs). You'll also need the wire that runs from the Jetta third brake light down to the Jetta tail light. When you remove the light from a junkyard jetta, be careful to also get the small metal clips that hold it to the glass. The wire runs down to the tail light inside the C-pillar, so you'll have to remove the C-pillar trim to get it out, and carefully pull it through from the trunk. Here's what it should look like (VW coaster and mini GTI optional):
2. Modifying the Wiring Now that you've got the Jetta brakelight, you need to modify the wiring to work in your Golf/GTI. It's not too hard, but takes some patience. Here's what the tail light end of the wiring will initially look like:
Notice that the brown wire is in the middle, and the black wire with a red stripe is over to one side. When you're done, you want the black/red wire in the middle position, and the brown wire removed entirely.
Removing the wires in a pain in the butt, just to warn you. You'll need two thin paperclips or two thin finishing nails or somthing else that's thin and metal. Stick the paperclips into the wiring plug like this:
If the wiring plug were lying on it's side, you'd stick the paper clips in above and below the wire itself. Once the paperclips are in (push them in until they stop) start wiggling the wire on the other side of the connector. If you get lucky, it'll pop right out. If not, fiddle around with the paper clips, try more wiggling, etc. I ended up gripping the wire with a pair of pliers, and had to pull pretty hard to get it to pop out, but no damage done.
3. Wiring Mods Continued Once you get both wires out, stick the black/red one into the middle of the plastic plug, and leave the brown one unplugged. Clip off the snap-in pin on the end of the brown wire, and crimp on a ring connector. When you're done, the wiring should look like this:
4. Installing the Wiring Now you're done modifying the wiring, and it's time to install it in your Golf/GTI. Don't remove the factory spoiler/brakelight yet, because the glue needed to attach the Jetta brakelight attachment clips has to dry overnight before the light can be attatched.
The first thing you need to do is run the wiring. If you pull back the carpet on the passenger's side of the trunk, you should be able to find the wiring that goes to the stock tailight. The factory wiring should look just like your modded wiring, and be screwed and plugged in where it's circled in this pic:
To run your new wiring, leave 3" or so slack where it will plug into the tail light, then carefully run it up to the top of the car by gently tucking it behind the plastic C-pillar trim (you don't need to plug it in yet). Choose a point at the end of the plastic trim to have the wiring cross the gap between the car and the hatch lid, and thoroughly wrap that part of the wiring in electrical tape to keep it from getting wet.
Once you've gotten it up to the hatch lid, there's a small channel right inside the top of the glass that the wiring will tuck into. When you're done, you want the wiring plug roughly at the center top of the hatch glass, like this:
5. Installing the Brake Light part I Now that you've got the wiring run, it's time to start installing the actual brake light. Remove the metal clips from the Jetta brakelight by pressing down the spring tabs that hold them in. If they're used, use a razor to scrape off as much of the old black glue as possible. Using the Jetta brakelight as a guide, attach the metal clips to the inside of your hatch glass, so the light will be centered side to side. I used Permatex black silicone adhesive sealant to attach the metal clips, it's working great so far (buy it at AutoZone, Pep Boys, etc). These clips need to sit on the glass overnight to dry, without the brakelight attached. Here's what the clips should look like once you've glued them in:
6. Removing the Spoiler Once you've let the metal clips sit overnight to dry, it's time to remove the SPOILER! :) Start by removing the three nuts inside the hatch glass (may be covered by small rubber caps), and loosen the wing by wiggling it from the outside. You'll notice there's a bunch of black gooey junk sticking the wing to the car, more on removing that later.
To remove the wing, you need to disconnect the wiring for the built-in 3rd brake light. To do this, pull out the hatch lid end of the accordion wiring boot on the passenger's side of the car. You'll see a vaccuum tube for the central locking system, and some familiar black/red stripe and brown wires. Pull the black/red and brown wires out of the hatch lid until you see a bundle wrapped in rubber foam attached to the wiring. Inside this bundle is the disconnect plug for the brake light in the wing. The bundle will look like this:
Peel off the rubber foam, and unplug the wiring. There should be two yellow wires that go further into the hatch, to the brake light in the spoiler.
Now, pull the spoiler off all the way. There's a rubber boot that goes through the hatch glass, holding the brake light wires. You want to pull the rubber boot through the glass, to the outside. A thin screwdriver helps here. You may also have to thread the yellow wires back inside the hatch so they'll pull through. Once you're done, remove the spoiler and set it aside. Tuck the other end of the wiring plug back inside the hatch, and stuff the accordion wiring boot back into place.
7. Removing the Goo No More Spoiler! Looks nice, huh? Not yet! There's black sticky goo all over your hatch! To remove it, I used a soft plastic paint scraper to start, followed by Goo-Gone solvent. Get some Q-Tips to clean in the groove between the glass and metal hatch, and clean the glass really well. Go lightly with the solvent, it works very well but will damage your paint if you scrub too hard. Also make sure to apply the solvent on a cotton rag, if you use paper towels you'll instantly scratch up the beautiful untouched paint that's been hiding under there since your car was new.
8. Plugging the Holes Ok, so no spoiler, cleaned hatch, but now you have holes in the glass. This part is pretty much up to you. Look through the junk drawer, browse the auto parts stores and Home depot. I found some small plastic plates with a round snap-in underneath, unfortunately I have absolutely no idea where they came from! Whatever you find, use more of that silicone sealer to make sure you won't have any leaks, and use the sealer both outside and inside the glass.
9. The Final Step-Installing the 3rd brake light. This is the easiest part. Plug the wiring into the 3rd brakelight, and slide the light onto the metal clips. It should snap in. Now, pull back the carpet behind the passenger's side tail light. You need to disconnect the old brakelight wiring, and connect your modded wiring. Unplug the plastic plug from the tail light housing, and plug your modded one in. Uncrew the screw holding the brown wires, remove the old one, and connect your modded one. You can leave the old wiring hanging, in case you want to go back to stock at some point. It should look like this when you're done:
Now, go test the brake lights (use a friend or a brick). If you bought the Jetta brakelight used, there might be a few bulbs blown out, so swap some working ones in from your spoiler brakelight. Put the carpet back in place, put anything else back together, and you're DONE!
Here's some before shots (I also did new tail lights at the same time):
And here's some "after" pics:
Here's what the 3rd brake light will look like:
And here's what it looks like when you brake:
Enjoy! Keep in mind, the usual disclaimer applies: I'm not responsible if you screw up your car, and I cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of this information. This worked on my 1996 2.0L GTI, but it may be different on yours. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or IM me on VWvortex.com, username Zwoobah