Car Talk: Accessing the junk in your trunk should be an easy fix

Dear Car Talk:

I have a 2011 Cadillac CTS, and my trunk will not open with the remote button inside the car or with the key fob. When I use the buttons, I can hear it clicking at the latch.

Can you tell me what’s wrong? Thanks. — Rick

Well, we can approach this problem using the process of elimination, Rick. How’d you like to eliminate this CTS and buy a newer car?

No, I’m kidding. This is fixable. Because you can hear clicking when you use the key fob (or the remote trunk release inside the car), we know that there’s power getting to the latch. It’s trying to do its job. That’s good.

The way these things work is that the latch hooks and unhooks itself around a stationary “striker.” Either the latch or the striker is attached to the trunk lid, and its mate is attached to the body of the car, just inside the trunk opening.

When you hit the trunk-open button on your key fob, it signals the latch to open and release itself from the striker. So, one of two things is happening. Either the latch is not opening fully enough, or the latch and striker are out of alignment.

The best place to take this is a body shop, Rick. They screw up the installation of trunk lids and lift gates all the time, so they’re really good at fixing these problems.

If you ask a body mechanic there to look at it for you, he can activate the latch with your key fob while the trunk lid is open. And he can watch it, and see if it’s opening fully.

If it’s not, it may be a simple matter of lubricating it. If the latch is opening fully, then the way the two parts meet may be out of alignment. So, either the trunk lid itself or one of the two parts needs to be adjusted.

If the body shop guy can’t see how it’s misaligned from the outside, he can always climb in through the back seats with a flashlight and a meatball sub and watch how the trunk closes, and see how the two parts are lining up.

Either way, this shouldn’t be hard to fix, Rick. And I’m confident that in short order, you’ll be able to get to your bowling shoes again.

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