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New Mid-Engine Corvette Frunk May Fly Open Even At Low Speed: Owners

Illustration for article titled New Mid-Engine Corvette Frunk May Fly Open Even At Low Speed: Owners
Photo: Chevy

There are multiple reports that the front trunk lid of the new mid-engine Chevy Corvette may pop up while driving, according to two NHTSA complaints and other forum accounts, forcing Chevy to investigate.

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As of right now, there is not a clear indicator of why the frunk, or what would traditionally be the hood of a front-engined car, maybe flying up while driving.

The first incident recorded on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s public complaint filing page was on April 11, claiming the frunk lid opened during driving at a low speed. The second incident recorded on the website was on April 30:

WHEN I REACHED A SPEED OF APPROXIMATELY 25 TO 30 MPH, THE FRONT HOOD (ALSO CALLED A FRUNK), FLEW UP AND COMPLETELY BLOCKED MY VISION OF THE ROADWAY. I WAS ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY BRAKE AND PULL TO THE SHOULDER OF THE HIGHWAY WITHOUT FURTHER INCIDENT.

THE “FRUNK” HOOD COMPLETELY BLOCKED MY VISION OF THE ROADWAY AND DAMAGE WAS DONE TO THE HINGES, HOOD AND FENDER ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE.

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A third incident was reported on MidEngineCorvetteForum.com, according to CorvetteBlogger.com, where the frunk opened at around 30 mph and damaged its hinges. The owner claims they did not hear an audible warning that is supposed to play if the trunk is not in its closed position.

Here’s a video of it happening as well:

Kind of sounds like a latch release, to me, but of course there are going to be a lot of noises happening when the hood pops up under motion.

While these are three incidents that could easily be potentially chalked up simply to user error, Chevy has assured Jalopnik that it’s looking into the incident:

After isolated reports of 2020 Chevrolet Corvette hoods being inadvertently left open while being driven, the engineering team is investigating the potential issue and will be working to prevent them moving forward. We have not been able to identify any mechanical issues related this situation. We’re looking at ways we can improve warnings of the hood being open by increasing the volume of warning chimes and changing the messaging that appears in the DIC. Vehicles already in the field would receive these changes through over-the-air updates.

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As you can see, Chevy seems to think some element of user error was at play in each incident. The frunk latch has three positions: fully closed, slightly open on a latch point to allow for trickle-charging the battery without cutting off the cables and an open position. In anything but the closed position, a visible warning displays on the driver’s screen, along with supposedly an audible chime.

It’s also possible that objects inside the frunk moved while the vehicle was in operation and hit the latch release button inside the frunk, the latch itself, or the frunk panel, though it’d be a little more obvious if that’s what was happening. It’s also fairly visibly obvious when the hood isn’t closed:

Illustration for article titled New Mid-Engine Corvette Frunk May Fly Open Even At Low Speed: Owners
Photo: Chevy
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As with most issues of this type, I think it’s probably some degree of user error mixed with ineffective warnings on a car that’s new to the owner, who may not be used to looking for certain things before takeoff on their new ride yet.

Seems unlikely that Chevrolet, which has been manufacturing regular hoods and latches decades, would suddenly have a problem just because there’s no engine under the metal in that area anymore. But then again, maybe not!

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If they had to redesign anything on the new Corvette, it’s not the front I’m too worried about.

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DISCUSSION

Fun story: when I was looking for GM in the early 00s, I worked in the “closure group”, i.e. hatches, hoods, trunks, and doors. We worked on the first generation Cadillacs with the “Art and Science” theme, and these were the first Cadillacs to be imported to Europe in a while. Apparently, the few users in Germany reported that they could see their hoods lifting slightly when they were driving at high speeds. Obviously, this was not a problem for us Americans, particularly Cadillac buyers. We went into the GM windtunnel (at midnight, that was the only time slot available) with an STS and measured the hood deflections at different wind speeds. At speeds above 90 mph, you can definitely see the corners of the hood lifting up.

I wrote a report with my findings, but unfortunately left before I knew about any decisions or future design changes. I know the Corvette team was having the same issue, but with the windshield being excessively noisy at at high speeds because of it was being “sucked” out (see Bernoulli’s principle). That led to a different gasket design around the windshield to fix the problem.