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Where do you take a car to fix its trunk?

seems like a simple question, but I can’t figure it out. here’s the story:

I bought an 01 corolla s a few weeks ago and it’s in great shape except for some seemingly minor body damage and 3 bent rims. got the rims taken care of, then noticed that the trunk would not stay closed. it stayed closed through my test drive and getting it home after i paid the guy, then just magically won’t shut anymore. figures! all in all he kept the important parts of the car well maintained so i’m still happy with it.

I took a look at the trunk latch and went to the junkyard to hunt down a new one. I quickly realized that the reason the latch would not work is because it was missing a small spring that snaps the latch open or closed. I replaced it, tested the latch, and it seemed to be working fine, so i try to close the trunk - and it opens right back up. knowing that it was going to rain soon and starting to get desperate since I couldn’t get the thing tied down tight enough to keep out water, i took off the part that the latch latches on to (what is that thing called anyway?) and moved it up, screwed it into the top mounting hole so that it was about 1" above where the factory put it. checked the lock mechanism again, made sure the release cable was in place and working and shut it (with my tools and other parts inside of course), and breathe a sigh of relief when the latch sticks and it stays shut. then i hurl some new expletives at it when i figure out that the release lever no longer opens the trunk and neither does the key. the trunk looks like it’s slightly open because of the new position of the thing the latch latches onto, but it keeps the rain out.

there is very little resistance on the release lever now, but i can feel the latch mechanism moving if i stick my fingers into the slightly open trunk. at this point i’m ready to take it to a pro to get it fixed, but who deals with stuff like this? body shop? dealership? grease monkey? regular mechanic shop? I’m going to call around regardless but i was hoping for some advice that would help me narrow it down, or some new ideas as to how to open it and fix it. I’m only open to taking out the backseats if i’ll be able to fix it the same day - i’m not really into the idea of ripping the seats out every time i need something from in there. if i take the seats out and open it manually, i’m still back to square one with a trunk that either won’t shut or won’t open, and of course at that point i would also have no backseat. no one else on the internet seems to have this particular trunk malfunction. i think it may have to do with the fact that somebody backed this thing into something as there is a dent in the trunk near the latch. it looks minor but there could be some non visible damage keeping the latch from lining up or releasing.

any suggestions are welcome. thanks!

heck man if i was there i’d fix it for ya, it seems like a pain but it should be fairly simple

hmm…i’m tryin to think of how to explain how i’d go about doin this, umm…you know how when you have a fridge with a faulty door? well that kinda thing is real similar, what you wanna do mainly is observe the latch mechanism, thoroughly, and see if you can figure out exactly how it latches to the tooth or whatever the thingy is that,s mounted to the inside if the trunk, sometimes it will be a cantilever type of action, where as you said, it will have a spring, but it’ll be adjusted in such a way that if you push the latch far enough in one direction, it will pull itself the rest of the way, and it’ll do the same for the opposite direction, so it might just be a matter of making sure that the latch is in the right position before closing the trunk

Three bent rims and trunk that will not close…I detect an accident and less than perfect body-work. If you can’t fix it yourself, have a body-shop take a look at it…You might have them go over the whole car and see if there is any hidden damage…

Have it evaluated by a body shop. It is possible that the unibody has bee bent out of whumpus by an accident, and if so it might take a pro to get the trunk to work.

You need to take the Corolla to a body shop. I had a friend years ago who drove his Vega over several RR tracks at cruising speed. When he got to his motel, he could not open either door. He climbed out the window to get his luggage out of the back and the hatchbach would not open either. He spent 2 days in a little town out west waiting for the body shop to fix his little Vega GT hatchback. He slowed down for RR tracks after that.

Missleman . . . a Vega? I thought they all went to rust heaven years ago! Where do you live? I haven’t ween a Vega here in the rusty Northeast in years! Rocketman

Hey rocketman…I said “years ago.” My friend was TDY somewhere out west where the RR tracks cross major highways. I think he was in Arizona but I’m not sure. It was about 30 years ago. I’m back home in Ky but I lived in the Seattle area (Kent) about 10 years ago. There is a local guy that runs around here in a nice 74’ Vega GT with a 350 engine. Vegas are out there but very few and far between.

talon: thanks for the suggestion, it is a cantilever latch with only two positions: open and closed. there is no way to adjust this. the main problem seems to be that the latch will not fully reach the “thing the latch latches on to” (still wondering what the hell it’s called), so it’s probably not something I’ll be able to fix.

caddyman, the same mountainbike, and missleman: thanks for clearing that up. I’ll take it to the body shop and hope they can do the job for less than my entire net worth.

thanks all for your help!