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How To Fix Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Open/Close/Unlock/Lock

Most of us know that a car’s trunk is incredibly valuable, especially if you buy a lot of groceries and/or buy large items. This simple but effective component of a Honda Civic, or a car in general, is often taken for granted, so when the lid won’t close properly, it becomes an incredibly frustrating affair.

Luckily, at least some closure isn’t nearly the most expensive problem you can have with a vehicle, but what can cause your Honda Civic trunk to not close?

The reason why a Honda Civic trunk might not close is all in the latch that is supposed to lock the lid in place. Sometimes this latch mechanism can be jammed, get dirty, or be damaged due to wear and tear. If you need to have this latch repaired by a mechanic, it costs at least $85.

Close up of Honda emblem on car trunk

But there can also be problems with the trunk, not opening, and a host of other issues. Today we will be going over these issues in more detail and advise how you can troubleshoot these issues. If you want to learn how to solve your broken trunk woes, keep on reading. 

How Does a Car Trunk Work?

Close up of man's face with question mark images above his head

To understand the trunk issues, it’s important to know how the mechanism works.

Obviously, you know that the trunk is supposed to lock in place when you close the lid and that you are supposed to feel a “click” or “snap” when you go to open it, but how does this all work?

It’s quite simple; what keeps the trunk lid closed is referred to as the latch; today, this locking mechanism consists of a “keyed lock cylinder” and a trunk lock actuator to allow the trunk to be opened remotely.

The trunk lock actuator allows you to press a button to open the trunk, which is an electronically operated mechanism. However, the latch itself is a relatively simple system that is somewhat similar to a door’s latch in which it locks the trunk in place to the body of the car.

When you activate the actuator, it releases the latch to freely open the trunk. This actuator has wires that allow this mechanism to work, which will come into play as we further along in the article. 

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Open: Cause / How To Fix

Honda Civic spoiler rear view

If you bought a load of groceries only to suddenly discover that you can’t open the trunk of your car, this is undoubtedly a frustrating scenario to be in. But why does this happen? 

There are two scenarios at play here, either the actuator isn’t working, or the latch is preventing the trunk lid from swinging open. To test what the problem is here, you can simply try opening the trunk manually without pressing any buttons; this will tell you right away if the latch itself is compromised or if the problem is the actuator.

At this point, you’ll be relieved but annoyed if the trunk won’t open remotely, but if the latch system itself is the issue, then you’ll need to get it replaced or fixed. The lock actuator will cost at least $284 to replace, while the latch itself will be much cheaper at $85.

However, the latch is dirt cheap when talking about the component itself, and so if you want to save a lot of money, you can simply buy one and replace it yourself. 

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Open With Key: Cause / How To Fix

Hand dangling car keys and remote

A car trunk needs a locking mechanism, as nobody other than yourself can open it because people often have valuable items in there (such as yummy groceries). However, if you can’t open the trunk with your key, you are locked out of your trunk. 

There is a decent chance that the lock mechanism may have simply worn out; we know it sounds strange because people normally do not think about simple things such as locks suddenly breaking, but this is a common issue when someone runs into their trunk lock not working. 

It’s also possible that the key itself isn’t working correctly. A key has to be a specific shape to work with the specific lock it is paired to for it to work, and so if it has been roughed up, it is possible that the key will no longer function.

If this is the case, you are at least in luck that just getting a new key is very cheap.

As for the lock itself, damage can happen by applying excessive force or simply using it for years upon years on a frequent basis, which leads us back into wear and tears being the main issue. 

A lock replacement can vary wildly depending on if you are seeing a locksmith, a car dealership, or how old/new your Civic is. You’ll be looking at at least $75 at minimum, but the maximum could be over $300. 

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Open With Remote: Cause / How To Fix

Honda Civic side profile

Being able to open your trunk with a remote is something so little that has become a game-changer; we’ve all been there, you have a handful of items, but your hands are so full that it is complicated to grab the trunk handle to physically open it.

And so when you expect this to work, it is, of course, a frustrating scenario when it doesn’t work. The issue could either be with the remote itself, the actuator, or the latch. 

If the remote itself is working, you may not see any feedback on the remote itself via lights, if it is the latch itself, you might be able to “feel” the trunk itself trying to open but failing to do so, and lastly, the actuator can be failing to engage.

You simply don’t have anything happening, even if the remote is giving you feedback.

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Stay Open

Gray Honda Civic rear view of car

This is at the very least one of the most liveable problems on this list; if your hands aren’t full, you can at the very least hold the trunk open as you store or take out your items, and so it is completely up to you if you want to solve this issue or not. But if you are here, we are wagering you need this fixed ASAP.

What we didn’t mention initially is that trunks have shocks that help make opening the trunk easily. Have you noticed how remarkably little force you need to apply to open a car trunk? Or the “airy” sound that you hear?

Those are the shocks aiding the operation. The shocks are also responsible for keeping the trunk lid open by applying pressure. 

With this in mind, if these shocks aren’t working properly due to the gasses not applying or they are locking, this will cause the trunk to be far more difficult to open and come crashing down when you let go of the lid. Replacing these shocks can run you at least $160.

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Stay Closed

Close up of blue Honda Civic tail light

On the other hand, the exact opposite problem to the above scenario is actually quite dangerous. Even if you don’t have anything in the trunk, driving around with the lid open is not a good idea.

This problem is easy to pin down as it indicates that the latch isn’t functioning properly, or more accurately, at all. Before phoning for a mechanic, it’s worth troubleshooting this yourself. 

Latches, as they are a mechanical mechanism, can become jammed. You can try pressing down on the trunk while having someone else release the trunk’s release mechanism from inside the car. In some cases, this can fix the issue.

Debris can also be a factor in the trunk not closing; you can simply clean the latch itself with a rag/cloth with WD-40 and vacuuming the area to thoroughly remove any debris that may be stuck. You should be able to see any debris and this access that this might be the issue.

Honda Civic Trunk Keeps Opening: Cause / How To Fix

Honda Civic trunk tray

A prevalent reason why the Honda Civic trunk keeps opening involuntarily might be due to a malfunctioning trunk release button. Wear and tear or electrical issues can cause the button to trigger unintentionally. Inspecting and cleaning around the button for any debris and ensuring its proper functionality is crucial. If the problem persists, consider having the button checked and possibly replaced by a professional mechanic to ensure secure trunk closure.

In some instances, the issue might be related to a faulty trunk latch sensor. The sensor, designed to detect if the trunk is securely closed, may malfunction and send incorrect signals, causing the trunk to pop open unexpectedly. Inspecting the latch and sensor for visible damage or obstructions and cleaning them gently might resolve the issue. If the trunk continues to open on its own, seeking professional assistance to inspect and potentially replace the faulty sensor would be the next advisable step to ensure the trunk remains securely closed during transit.

Another plausible reason could be related to a wiring issue within the trunk release mechanism. Wires that are frayed, damaged, or improperly connected might send erratic signals, causing the trunk to open spontaneously. To troubleshoot this, a visual inspection of the wiring (accessible via the trunk) for any visible damage or loose connections might be helpful. However, due to the complexity of electrical systems, it is recommended to consult with a professional mechanic or a Honda service center to accurately diagnose and repair the wiring, ensuring the trunk operates reliably and securely.

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Close, Beeps: Cause / How To Fix

Inside of gold Honda Civic trunk

If the trunk won’t close and you hear an audible beep, do know that this is a feature that prevents you from accidentally locking your keys in the trunk. There isn’t anything wrong with the trunk itself; rather, the person is holding the keys very close to the trunk when they go to close it.

But the sensor inside the trunk that allows for this mechanism can malfunction and go off if you have anything in the trunk at all; people have simply emptied the trunk, closed it, and refilled it to “reset” the sensor in a sense. This issue is likely not causing major concern.

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Unlock: Cause / How To Fix

Car key remote

If you have gone to insert your keys into the trunk, only for the lock to be stuck, this could happen for multiple reasons, either the lock itself has become worn out, or the key itself is worn out. 

Using the same lock repeatedly can wear it down, especially if the vehicle is old. It’s not uncommon for the key to break off inside the lock or wear down, causing the divots to misalign. This process makes it almost impossible to unlock the trunk of your vehicle.

Make sure you don’t slam the trunk, jam the key inside the lock, or rip it out with too much force. Even if your car is brand-new, locks become damaged quickly. Use it as you would with a fragile lock, that way you don’t have to worry about the key breaking inside the lock or wearing it down.

Although Honda Civics are built like battle tanks and are generally very reliable, they are still cars at the end of the day with many different parts that could potentially be installed, not quite right. Some people are also very forceful with unlocking things, leading to the wear and tear mentioned above. 

As United Locksmith stated on that page, we would encourage you to start with the simplest solution before panicking. If the trunk isn’t opening via the remote, try to do it manually; if it’s not unlocking via the key, try to open it via the remote.

This will help weed out what the problem actually is, whether it’s a problem with the lock itself or the electronic system.

Honda Civic Trunk Won’t Lock: Cause / How To Fix

Inside car unlock button

Unlike the above scenario, if you have the exact opposite problem and the trunk won’t lock, you can pretty much be sure that the lock is the problem, and as we stated above, it may either be worn out or the key itself is not working correctly.

First, inspect the key; you likely haven’t paid much attention to it like most people, is it chipped? Warped? Perhaps very dirty? There is a good chance that is your issue if you can answer yes to any of the above, and luckily this is going to be a cheap and simple solution.

If the key pretty much looks brand new, then you can assume that the lock itself is the issue, which is typically a replacement job that costs at least $150. 

Honda Civic Latch Not Working: Cause / How To Fix

Close up of car trunk latch

The latch keeps the trunk lid closed and allows it to open; if you are having problems with your Civic’s trunk, you can try gaining access to it and giving it a good cleaning with a rag vacuum to remove any debris.

Oftentimes excessive moisture will corrode the gears, which will make them either difficult or impossible to open. 

It’s also possible for the latch to be worn out or get damaged, although since we are talking about Honda Civics, one of the most reliable cars you can buy, this isn’t going to be as much of an issue as some other cars.

Honda Civic Vent Leak

Gold car trunk inside

You are probably wondering why your trunk is leaking water, and the simplest explanation is that the tail lights lead directly into the trunk, and if you have any sort of crack on your tail lights, that will cause the trunk vent to leak. 

The issue is with the plastic shells that cover the light and not the light itself, and so having new shells installed isn’t going to be very expensive, relatively speaking. Typically this is a $50 job at least.

And since this is such a basic component, you can find many aftermarket caps that are cheaper than the car manufacturer’s version. 

Honda Civic Trunk Release Not Working

Car trunk door open

The trunk release button allows you to effortlessly open the trunk, and it is an electronically controlled mechanism. First, see if you can open the trunk manually; if you can, the issue isn’t with the trunk itself, rather the actuator. 

Replacing an actuator is at least a $284 job, but it is up to you if you want to get this fixed if you can safely open and close the latch manually. 

How To Turn Off Honda Civic Trunk Light

Silhouette of car and tools

If you are having problems with the trunk light (designed to allow you to see what’s in there in the dark) constantly illuminating and not shutting off, this invites the possibility for the battery to die, or at the very least, drain more quickly. 

If you want to turn it off, gently lower the lid until the catch touches, but don’t close it completely yet. The light should turn off at that point. 

How To Open Honda Civic Trunk Manually

Car mechanic with a wrench in hand

The Honda Civic is essentially a “standard” car, so opening the trunk manually will be very simple. There is a lever underneath the trunk itself, which allows the trunk to open without pressing any electronic buttons; simply insert the key, turn, and pull the level.

The trunk should gently start to open (remember, we discussed how the shocks allow this mechanism). 

If you are running into issues with either the lock not working or the trunk is refusing to open when trying to operate it manually, you can pin down that the issue is either of these issues, which makes troubleshooting a lot easier.

If you are buying a used Civic, test the trunk, doors, and hood before forking over the money. While these cars are reliable, they often get beaten to death, so it’s just good to inspect the basics and the more complex things such as the engine.

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Copyright protected article by Know My Auto and was first published on Mar 17, 2021. .

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