Trunk Actuator Buyer's Guide
- The trunk actuator allows you to access the contents of your vehicle's compartment.
- While the car key can manually open the trunk, the car trunk actuator is the mechanism that makes the trunk latch mechanically disengage.
- It's also known as a pop trunk actuator, trunk lock actuator, trunk release actuator, trunk latch actuator, and trunk lid actuator.
- Depending on the design, the trunk lock actuator can have gearsets or trunk release solenoid valves and pneumatic trunk actuators that can cause the latch to engage or disengage when activated.
- The trunk actuator can be activated using a button on the trunk lid, the trunk release switch on the driver's side of the car, the remote trunk release button on the key fob, or a sensor sending signals to the car's computer.
- Due to FMVSS No. 401, some modern trunk actuators feature a built-in phosphorescent or glow-in-the-dark handle or button.
- When the trunk can't be opened with the trunk release switch, the button on the trunk lid handle, or with the key fob, it's possible that the trunk actuator is no longer working. However, the trunk might also not open due to other issues.
- When a motorized trunk actuator is starting to fail, it might make grinding noises. Meanwhile, a damaged pneumatic trunk actuator could make hissing noises.
- At CarParts.com, trunk actuators can cost around $3 to $60.
Early automobiles that had an enclosed body only featured compartments for the engine and the driver and passenger. There were no dedicated compartments for luggage then, and a passenger would have to sit with their things or place these on the floor of the car. Then cars began to be built with a space where baggage could be placed or stored, such as a rear-mounted rack where a large chest or trunk could be secured. Eventually, this luggage space was incorporated into the car's body.
Nowadays, the luggage compartment or trunk in most cars is part of the vehicle body and enclosed by panels of the same material. A hinged deck lid protects the trunk's contents. A locking mechanism keeps the lid securely closed and ensures that the items in the trunk won't fall out while the vehicle moves. Meanwhile, the trunk actuator lets you access your compartment's contents.
What is a Trunk Lock Actuator?
Aside from the direction, the trunk can be opened or closed in a somewhat similar manner to the driver-side door. It has a latch and a lock that can be engaged or disengaged with the car key or fob, a switch on the lid, or a button near the steering column. While the car key can open the trunk manually, the car trunk actuator makes the trunk latch mechanically disengage. It'ss also known as a pop trunk actuator, trunk lock actuator, trunk release actuator, trunk latch actuator, and trunk lid actuator.
How Does a Trunk Lock Actuator Work?
Depending on the design, the trunk lock actuator can have gearsets or trunk release solenoid valves and pneumatic trunk actuators. These components can cause the latch to engage or disengage when activated. A trunk actuator can be activated using the button on the trunk lid, the trunk release switch on the driver's side of the car, the remote trunk release button on the key fob, or a sensor sending signals to the car's computer.
When a trunk actuator is activated, it receives power from the car's battery. With a motorized trunk actuator, the gears, which can be made from metal or thermoplastic, turn and move the latch to disengage from the eye or striker. On the other hand, a trunk actuator that uses solenoid valves gets around 12 volts of electricity that causes the solenoid valves to pressurize the pneumatic actuators, which then move the latch.
Where is the Trunk Actuator Located?
The trunk actuator is usually located behind the lid handle and above the latch that it needs to engage or disengage. Meanwhile, the latch is positioned on the lid section that aligns with the striker's location on the body. The actuator assembly is neatly housed under the inside trunk trim panel and the outer cover on the trunk face. To access the assembly, either the inner trim or the outer cover would first have to be removed.
Interior Trunk Release
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 401; Internal Trunk Release was published in October 2000. Beginning September 2001, this required car manufacturers to equip the trunk with a release latch that's accessible from the inside of the compartment. The ruling came after over 900 anecdotal and reported cases of either accidental or intentional trunk entrapment since the 1980s.
Due to FMVSS No. 401, some modern trunk actuators feature a built-in handle or button, which can also activate the actuator. It's usually phosphorescent or glow-in-the-dark so that it's visible from inside the trunk even when the lid is closed and there is no light source.
Bad Trunk Actuator Symptoms
When the trunk can't be opened with the trunk release switch, the button on the trunk lid handle, or with the key fob, it's possible that the trunk actuator is no longer working. However, the trunk might also not open due to other issues, such as a dead battery, blown or burnt fuse, problems with the electrical wiring, or a broken key fob. Watch for these signs of a bad trunk actuator, which will vary according to type.
Motorized Trunk Actuator
When a motorized trunk actuator is starting to fail, it might make grinding noises while you're trying to open the trunk. The noise is made by the gears that are either broken or aren't moving smoothly.
Pneumatic Trunk Actuator
Pressurized air moves parts in pneumatic mechanisms. Once a pneumatic trunk actuator is damaged, the air could leak out from cracks on the module or pneumatic line and produce a continuous loud hissing noise whenever the trunk is opened.
Some vehicles feature a valet mode that prevents the trunk from being opened by any of the usual methods and even by the interior trunk release handle or button. When trying to determine whether the trunk actuator is failing, make sure to check whether or not the valet mode has been disabled.
Trunk Lock Actuator Replacement
A damaged trunk actuator should be replaced as soon as possible. While it won't stop you from driving your car, a broken trunk actuator can prevent easy access to your trunk's contents. It's also possible that if the issue isn't immediately addressed , the trunk actuator could stop working altogether and you would no longer be able to open your trunk using the switch, button, or key fob.
Note your vehicle's year, make, and model when looking for a replacement trunk actuator. These details will help you find compatible replacement parts. It's important to get an exact replacement, since this part will be connected to other trunk locking mechanism components. For instance, a motorized trunk actuator won't be able to accommodate the pneumatic lines used by a pneumatic trunk actuator.
The cost of replacing a trunk actuator will depend on factors like type and brand. At CarParts.com, trunk actuators cost from $3 to $60. These prices are only for the part itself and don't include labor costs.