Comprehensive Guide to Fixing an Automotive Trunk That Won't Open


A trunk that won't open can be more than a simple inconvenience; it can be a real problem, especially if you need access to your spare tire, tools, or personal belongings. This guide will help diagnose and fix issues with automotive trunks that won't open.

Common Causes Why Trunk Won't Open

Trunk malfunctions can arise from several factors which might involve the key, the car's internal mechanism, a faulty trunk lock, or electrical issues. Understanding these is the first step to resolving the problem.

  • Dead car battery: Most modern cars with electronic trunk release systems may not work if the battery is dead.
  • Blown fuse: A blown fuse could disable the electrical mechanism that opens the trunk.
  • Broken or stuck lock: Physical damage to the lock or some internal component can prevent the trunk from opening.
  • Jammed or misaligned trunk latch: If the latch is misaligned, it may not release properly, preventing the trunk lid from unlocking.
  • Key fob malfunctions: If the trunk release mechanisms rely on a remote key fob, the key fob itself might be damaged or have a drained battery.

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting and Repair

Step 1: Check the Battery

If you have a car with an electronic trunk release, a dead battery could be the culprit. To check this:

  1. Try to start your car or turn on the headlights. If they don't work, the battery might be dead.
  2. If possible, jump-start the car. If the car starts and the trunk release works, a dead battery was likely your problem.

Step 2: Inspect the Key Fob

If the trunk release is controlled by a remote key fob:

  1. Try the other buttons on the key fob to see if they're working.
  2. If nothing works, replace the key fob battery and try again.
  3. Make sure no buttons are stuck and that the key fob is clean and free of debris.

Step 3: Check the Fuse

A blown fuse can cause electrical failures, including a trunk release that doesn’t function.

  1. Consult your car's manual to locate the fuse box and find the specific fuse responsible for the trunk release.
  2. Remove the fuse and inspect it. If it's blown, replace it with a new one of the same rating.
  3. After replacing the fuse, try operating the trunk release again.

Step 4: Physical Inspection

If the trunk still won't open, the issue might be mechanical. Proceed with caution to avoid causing any damage.

  1. Check the trunk for any visible signs of damage or obstruction from the outside. Ensure nothing is jamming the lock.
  2. Use the key to manually unlock the trunk, if possible. If it doesn’t turn, there could be an issue with the lock itself.
  3. If you can enter from the inside of your car, you might find an emergency trunk release - usually a cord or a lever. Pulling this might open the trunk.

Step 5: Adjust the Trunk Latch

If the trunk closes but won't open, the latch might be misaligned. Here's how to check and adjust it:

  1. Once you get the trunk open (perhaps through the emergency release), inspect the latch mechanism. Look for signs of wear, damage, or misalignment.
  2. Loosen the bolts that hold the latch in place (not all the way), then reposition it if it's misaligned. Tighten the bolts and ensure everything is properly aligned.
  3. Use a lubricant if the latch moves with difficulty. Wipe away any excess, then close and open the trunk a few times to ensure the mechanism works smoothly.

Step 6: Seek Professional Assistance

If none of the above solutions work, it's best to contact a professional. There might be internal damages or complex electrical issues at play.

  1. Contact a locksmith if the issue seems to be with the lock or key. They can provide immediate assistance, especially if you suspect the key is damaged or the lock is jammed.
  2. Schedule an appointment with a mechanic or your car dealership's service center if the problem persists. They can diagnose and fix mechanical or electrical failures.


Dealing with a trunk that won't open can be frustrating, but using the steps above, you can likely identify the problem and possibly even resolve it yourself. If these steps don’t work, seeking help from a professional is the best course of action to ensure your vehicle receives the proper care and repair.

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