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How to Access a Broken and Locked Mercedes Trunk
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

How to Access a Broken and Locked Mercedes Trunk

Steve Vernon

Time:

1-5hrs

Tab:

$0 to $400

Talent:

***

Tools:

T27 Torx bit and driver, drill, sawzall, flathead screwdriver, hammer

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W203 (2001-07)

Parts Required:

Depends on the extent of damage

Hot Tip:

Wear safety glasses

Performance Gain:

Ability to get in your trunk

Complementary Modification:

New paint job on trunk

Pelican Parts bought a 2001 C320 (W203) project car from an online auction, sight unseen and with no warranty or promises of any kind. When the car arrived one of the first things I found wrong was that the trunk would not open. I was hoping some of the missing engine accessories would be in the trunk so it was imperative that I get it open.

Next I began the process of elimination, the electronic key would not work, the trunk switch on the driver side door did not work and the mechanical key didn't offer any help. After checking all of the usual suspects and eliminating electrical issues, I came to the conclusion that something was broken within the latch/lock mechanism that was jamming the trunk closed. The other problem was that the car did not have the split rear seat and absolutely no way to get into the trunk from the inside of the car.

If you have tried all other options from jumping up and down on the trunk to boosting the battery and find yourself with a stuck trunk and no way to get inside it to open it here is what I did.

First disconnect the battery and secure the ground cable so it can not make accidental contact with the battery while working.

The next thing I did was determine that I needed to get access to the cable that goes from the locking/latching mechanism to the lift handle in the hopes that I could physically pull the cable and get it to release. At this point I was hoping the cable had broken off the lift handle portion and I just needed to be able to pull it to open the trunk. Without the ability to get into the trunk space from the cabin I set about figuring out the best way to get to the mechanism.

I had found some information on the web saying that you could break out the left rear tail light and reach in through the opening. This seemed like as good idea as any and did not involve cutting any sheet metal so I broke the tail light out. With the tail light housing gone you can unplug the board and remove the panel inside the trunk, and then you can reach your arm in. This car has no emergency release handle inside the trunk that you can simply pull, and in hind sight it would not have worked any ways. I would now have to cut a hole in the trunk lining and feel around to find the cable from the handle to lock. This might have worked if you had done a fair amount of work on the trunk from the inside or had even seen the inside of the trunk workings, but since I had neither I was not feeling secure about starting to cut things I could not see and groping around blind in the trunk.

Stepping back I realized I could remove the fascia on the rear of the trunk and maybe get access to the lock and mechanism. This turned out to be the way to go. In hindsight, I would NOT have broken the taillight out as even if I knew what to feel for in the dark I would not have been able to fix the problem from that angle.

There is a fascia or cover over the rear of the trunk that is held on by eight push clips and one shear or security bolt. Remove the license plate and drill out the head of the shear bolt behind it. Use a trim removal tool or tape up the shaft of a flat head screw driver and pry the fascia plate away from the trunk releasing the eight clips. With the fascia off you will see two T27 Torx bolts holding in the lift handle and key assembly. Remove the two bolts, and remove the two license plate lights while there (they just pry out). With the mechanism loose I could see that the cable was still attached to the lift handle so I tried to grab the sheath of the cable with pliers and manually pull the handle attached to the end of the cable. The cable only has about a half inch of travel but you need to pull the cable and not the sheath around it.

This didn't work so the next step was to remove the lift handle and key assembly from the trunk to remove the cable from the handle and be able to pull it separately. Unfortunately to remove the handle from the outside of the trunk meant small cuts in the sheet metal. I made two small cut in the handle opening toward the trunk area and then bent the metal back. This allowed me to slip the handle and key assembly out of the trunk. Everything was fine with the handle and key so I removed the cable and supporting the sheath manually pulled the end of the cable. This did nothing which meant I was now moving down to the lock/ latch assembly.

You can not see the lock/latch assembly from the outside of the trunk. I decided to drill three small exploration holes in the metal to see if the cable was binding on something or not hooked up to the lock/latch. With the small access hole I created I could now see that the cable was attached and that something must be broken in the lock/latch. This meant that the lock/latch had to come out, from the rear, which meant cutting a larger hole in the trunk sheet metal. I drilled a couple of pilot holes and broke out the sawzall to cut an access panel. The metal is quite thick here and if you do not own a sawzall, a Dremel will do, just be prepared to go through a lot of cutting bits.

Note: if you take care here you can cut a small enough hole that it will be covered by the fascia plate and no one will be the wiser when you put it back together, and you will save yourself a small fortune in body shop bills. With the access hole open I broke off the top electrical portion of the lock giving me access to the lower manual section. Once I had done this I could see where the end of the cable had slipped out of its position and had jammed itself in the guide channel. I simply pulled the cable out of the mechanism and used my finger to move the latch and the trunk popped open.

With the trunk open it is a simple matter to replace the lock/latch mechanism and the lift handle from the inside, also if you have taken your time cutting you can simply re install the fascia, put a very thin weather stripping on the under side to keep weather out of the hole you cut, install a new shear bolt or even a regular bolt and washer and save yourself a lot of money by avoiding a body shop.

I have included a picture of the project cars trunk with the fascia back in place and I could have made a smaller access hole when cutting.

Make sure you disconnect the ground terminal from the battery before you begin this project.
Figure 1

Make sure you disconnect the ground terminal from the battery before you begin this project.

This is your last resort.
Figure 2

This is your last resort. If all of the electrical options have failed you should be able to insert the manual key (red arrow) and turn it counter clock wise a quarter turn, then pull the lift handle (yellow arrow) and the trunk will open. Make sure before you start cutting anything that you lubricate the lock, push down on the trunk while trying the lock. This key and handle system by pass or over ride the electrical portion and form a direct connection between the handle and lock/latch, if this does not work something is probably broken or jammed in the lock latch.

Note: You do not need to do this step.
Figure 3

Note: You do not need to do this step. I had found some information on the web saying that you could break out the left rear tail light and reach in through the opening. This seemed like as good idea as any and did not involve cutting any sheet metal so I broke the tail light out.

Note: You do not need to do this step.
Figure 4

Note: You do not need to do this step. With the tail light housing gone you can unplug the board and remove the panel inside the trunk, and then you can reach your arm in (red arrow). This car has no emergency release handle inside the trunk that you can simply pull, and in hind sight it would not have worked any way. I would now have to cut a hole in the trunk lining and feel around to find the cable from the handle to lock. This might have worked if you had done a fair amount of work on the trunk from the inside or had even seen the inside of the trunk workings, but since I had neither I was not feeling secure about starting to cut things I could not see and groping around blind in the trunk.

There is a fascia or cover over the rear of the trunk that is held on by eight push clips (red arrows, hidden) and one shear or security bolt (yellow arrow).
Figure 5

There is a fascia or cover over the rear of the trunk that is held on by eight push clips (red arrows, hidden) and one shear or security bolt (yellow arrow). Remove the license plate and drill out the head of the shear bolt behind it. Use a trim removal tool or tape up the shaft of a flathead screwdriver and pry the fascia plate away from the trunk releasing the eight clips.

This photo illustrates the trunk with the fascia removed.
Figure 6

This photo illustrates the trunk with the fascia removed. You can see the holes for the push clips (red arrows) and the drilled out shear bolt (yellow arrow).

With the fascia off you remove two T27 Torx bolts (green arrows already removed) holding in the lift handle and key assembly.
Figure 7

With the fascia off you remove two T27 Torx bolts (green arrows already removed) holding in the lift handle and key assembly. I removed the two license plate lights (red arrows, they just pry out).

With the mechanism loose I could see that the cable was still attached to the lift handle so I tried to grab the sheath of the cable with pliers (red arrow) and manually pull the handle attached to the end of the cable.
Figure 8

With the mechanism loose I could see that the cable was still attached to the lift handle so I tried to grab the sheath of the cable with pliers (red arrow) and manually pull the handle attached to the end of the cable. The cable only has about a half inch of travel but you need to pull the cable and not the sheath around it.

The next step was to remove the lift handle and key assembly from the trunk to remove the cable from the handle and be able to pull it separately.
Figure 9

The next step was to remove the lift handle and key assembly from the trunk to remove the cable from the handle and be able to pull it separately. Unfortunately to remove the handle from the outside of the trunk meant small cuts in the sheet metal. I made two small cut in the handle opening toward the trunk area (red arrow) and then bent the metal back.

Slip the handle and key assembly out of the trunk.
Figure 10

Slip the handle and key assembly out of the trunk. Everything was fine with the handle and key (yellow arrow) so I removed the cable (green arrow) and supporting the sheath manually pulled the end of the cable. This did nothing which meant I was now moving down to the lock/ latch assembly. The red arrows show where the cuts were made in the trunk

You can not see the lock/latch assembly from the outside of the trunk.
Figure 11

You can not see the lock/latch assembly from the outside of the trunk. I decided to drill three small exploration holes (red arrow) in the metal to see if the cable was binding on something or not hooked up to the lock/latch. With the small access hole I created I could now see that the cable was attached and that something must be broken in the lock/latch.

This meant that the lock/latch had to come out, from the rear, which meant cutting a larger hole in the trunk sheet metal.
Figure 12

This meant that the lock/latch had to come out, from the rear, which meant cutting a larger hole in the trunk sheet metal. I drilled a couple of pilot holes and broke out the sawzall to cut and access panel. The metal is quite thick here and if you do not own a sawzall a Dremel will do, just be prepared to go through a lot of cutting bits. Note: if you take care here you can cut a small enough hole that it will be covered by the fascia plate and no one will be the wiser when you put it back together and you will save yourself a small fortune in body shop bills. You now have access to the lock/latch assembly (red arrow).

With the access hole open I broke off the top electrical portion of the lock giving me access to the lower manual section.
Figure 13

With the access hole open I broke off the top electrical portion of the lock giving me access to the lower manual section. Once I had done this I could see where the end of the cable had slipped out of its position and had jammed itself in the guide channel (red arrow). I simply pulled the cable out of the mechanism and used my finger to move the latch and the trunk popped open.

With everything replaced and fixed simply re installed the fascia and you should be good to go.
Figure 14

With everything replaced and fixed simply re installed the fascia and you should be good to go.

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Comments and Suggestions:
OMVIJOCA Comments: Kudos to Mr. Dempsey and Mr. Vernon. This article saved my butt.
June 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
George Partington Comments: I was in Hospital and when releaased my 1999 C200 Merc had a flat battery I removed the battery, took into the workshop and neighbour seeing my boot open, Clsed it. Of course no Battery the locks would not work I am stuck with a locked boot Trunk in USand a recharged battery. Although the Neighbour and myself tried I had to send for the Merc Engineer. I had to take out a mortgage to pay the bill
February 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Next time, try to open the door or trunk using the mechanical emergency key. Then power the vehicle up with jumper cables to get to battery. Remove and replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rele Comments: I locked my keys in my trunk merc benz 2006 e350 I had towing company come and open my door hoping I can unlock the trunk but the alarm goes off and locks the everything I had call merc Benz service ended up paying 100 dollars just to have them come and pull out 2 fuses and put back in which were I left driver side
September 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Luke Comments: hey guys I tried doing this but there seems too be a thick layer of steal im guessing thats the fascia plate what do i do?
November 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle do you have? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: What if there is no fascia plate on the trunk, what then?
August 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your vehicle may require going in from the interior, through the trunk. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
hekoagain Comments: Thank you guys. I was able to repair my broken boot lock today on C180 2003 model. Working super as before,, of course after over a year of using emergency key.
April 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
John Comments: Sorry soccer ball inflation needle as it fits right into cylinder.
November 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for clarifying. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: Hi,just freed my mates trunk lock on his 2002 e320 had a flat battery and key would not go into lock,the way I did it was to spray lubricant into cylinder then blew compressed air through a football inflation needle valve which can be inserted into the cylinder blowing out any debris,worked well for me.
November 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip but did you mean American football or ROW futbol? - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
hduck4cover Comments: I locked my keys in the trunk of my 1976 240D when i find a cylinder w/key i will drill the old cylinder to gain access , i did the same on a couple cars when i was a youngster worked great i will let you know how it works . anyone know where i could find a cylinder w/ key?
September 22, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Contact our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and they can help you. - Kerr y at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: Not that familiar with the structure of the car but couldn't you have just removed the rear seat and gone in from that direction? Most of the cars I have owned there is little or no structure behind the seat. Would just have to go through the trunk liner then and that could be replaced or just repaired. Would that work ?
April 18, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, this is not possible.
The fuel tank sets behind the rear seat, and there is an additional trunk liner panel behind the fuel tank.
whunter@pelicanparts.com
 

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