Cables and crowbars are the best ways to fix a broken trunk latch. However, you should never try to open a mechanical trunk that has a release cord.
My trunk’s latch just broke! What do I do?
So you’re on vacation, hundreds of miles away from your normal mechanic. You’re trying to shove all of your luggage into the trunk of your vehicle. You slam on the trunk a bit too hard and you hear a clank.
You look open the trunk again and see that you have smashed the latch and broken or bent it. There’s no way you can drive your car without the trunk flying up in the middle of the freeway and blinding you from what is behind your car.
You won’t be able to make lane changes, or see who is coming up on the shoulder. Not only that, but all of your luggage will fly out of the trunk and scatter across the road.
So what can you do in this situation?
The first thing you have to do is remove anything that is small and thin and can fly out of the trunk. Bags, papers, wires, etc, have to be moved into the vehicle cabin.
Next, push anything heavy to the back of the trunk. If you have a duffel bag in your trunk, place everything that will fit into the bag; this will help weigh down the bag. Push the bag to the back of the trunk.
If your vehicle has a compartment underneath the trunk flooring, now is the time to place any small items into that compartment and put the flooring back on top of the compartment.
Now that you have weighed down all the small items, it’s time to inspect the trunk latch.
Inspecting the trunk latch
There are two likely issues preventing the trunk door from closing and staying closed. You may have accidentally slammed down on the latch with so much force that the latch got stuck.
Or the force of the slam broke the latch. Look around your trunk and underneath the vehicle to see if any parts flew off.
Each issue has its own temporary fixes. If you inspect the latch and see that everything is intact, then that means the latch that keeps the trunk door closed is stuck.
The trunk latch will not stay closed
The trunk latch on the door will not latch with the lock on the bottom of the trunk. Look at the latch on the trunk’s rim and see if the latch moved.
Depending on the angle at which the trunk lid came down, you may have accidentally pushed the latch at the bottom of the trunk inwards or to the side. Also, if the trunk door latch does not move in time, it’ll smash the latch on the bottom trunk.
The metal latch needs to be aligned in order for the latch on the trunk door to connect and latch to the bottom latch. You’ll have to pull the bottom latch back out. This may require the help of a wrench or a thin crowbar.
Simply pull on the latch with your tool until it is in the correct position. Or you close the trunk door, close the door gently. Bring down the trunk door lightly and then click the trunk shut. Check how secure the latches are by pushing up on the trunk. If the latch is in the correct position, the trunk should stay closed.
The latch is broken and parts are missing
Unless you have a tool kit and extra parts in your vehicle, there’s no way to fix a destroyed lock. Two common reasons for a broken trunk latch are rust and poor treatment.
Many people, especially those with non-mechanical trunks, slam their trunk doors down on the latch. But there’s no need to slam the trunk door. You can slide the trunk door and give it a small extra push when it reaches the latch.
If you have a trunk that opens all the way with just a push of a button, then one of the gears must have malfunctioned. There should be a release valve on every mechanical door. If you pull the valve, the trunk door will open.
However, wait till you are home to release the mechanical valve. If there is something wrong with the trunk, and you use the valve to open the door, you might not close it again.
Where can I get help?
If you can drive to an auto body store, they may help you. Just explain to the manager or the owner of the auto body shop what is wrong with your vehicle.
They can either provide you with the tools, like a wrench or crowbar, to shift the bottom latch back into the right position.
Or they can sell you straps to hold down the trunk door. They might also have metallic extenders, so you can place one part of the extender into the trunk door latch and the other part of the extender at the bottom trunk latch.
How to secure a trunk with cables
Purchase cables at an auto body store. If you can, purchase the bungee cords that have closed lashes on each side.
Place one side of the cable into the door latch. Make sure it goes in all the way. Then stretch the cable and hook it to either the bottom latch or around the metallic part on your car’s or truck’s undercarriage.
The cable should not be slack at all. They need to be tight. If they are available, get cables that close. Do not buy bungee cords that are open and have no lock.
A temporary fix for a broken trunk latch is to either move the latch back in its correct position or bind the door closed with cables. All mechanical trunks have a release valve, but wait until you have reached your house to use it. You might get help from an auto body shop. When you purchase cables to secure your trunk, purchase the ones that have a closed latch on each side.