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How to Open a Boot Latch

Updated February 21, 2017

The boot latch is the latch that locks your car boot into place. There's not much to think about when this part is working properly, but it can cause a world of problems if it gets jammed. You can't utilise your boot --- and, worse yet, you may have something important that you need to get to inside. Understanding how to open a boot latch when the normal way doesn't work will save you time and prevent a possible repair bill from your mechanic.

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  1. Turn on your car and check to see if your electronic equipment turns on --- for example, your dashboard lights and your radio. If not, the problem may be a low or dead battery. Some boot latches use an electronic device for remote entry; a low or dead battery will prevent the electronics from opening the latch. You can jump-start your battery with a pair of jump leads or have your battery replaced, but manual unlocking of the boot latch with your keys is still possible.

  2. Insert the small straw apparatus that comes with most cans of degreaser and spray directly into the trunk's key hole. Sometimes water and other debris can get stuck in the key hole's tumbler. This will prevent your key from turning and the boot latch from unlocking. The degreaser will help lubricate all the parts and hopefully get the latch to unlock, if this is the cause of the problem.

  3. Climb into the back of your car and pull down the rear seats if you have a sedan. Unlock the back seats and pull them down. This will expose an opening that leads directly to the boot. This step is pertinent to those with sedans. Hatchback, minivan and SUV owners can skip this step, since the inside of the boot is exposed.

  4. Pull on the boot safety handle to open the boot. This is sometimes referred to as the child safety handle. In sedans the latch will sometimes be glow-in-the-dark. Pulling on this handle will release the boot latch, and your boot will be opened.

  5. Inspect the boot latch when the boot is open. Spray with degreaser if you notice an accumulation of rust or grease. Wipe off with a clean paper towel to remove any substances from the latch. Look for any damage. The boot latch has to endure significant pressure through daily slamming and opening. Cracks, bends, or breaks in the latch are not uncommon in older vehicles. The boot latch will have to be replaced if you see this type of damage.

  6. Close the boot and try to open the boot latch with your key to see if any of the fixes you performed eliminated the problem. If not, you can try again or take your car to a mechanic to fix the problem.

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Things You'll Need

  • Car keys
  • Degreaser
  • Flashlight
  • Paper towels

About the Author

David Montoya is an attorney who graduated from the UCLA School of Law. He also holds a Master of Arts in American Indian studies. Montoya's writings often cover legal topics such as contract law, estate law, family law and business.

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