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How To Break Out Of A Car's Trunk

This was my first-ever post at Jalopnik. Holy crap.

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Let’s face it: sooner or later, you’re going to get abducted. It’s a down economy, there’s lots of increasingly desperate unemployed folks, and it’s a more dignified way to meet new people than, say, Craigslist personals. So, yes, you’ll probably get abducted, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.

One of the most tried-and-true methods of grabbing and kidnapping someone is the classic throw-them-into-the-car-trunk method. It’s fast, cheap, and disorients, restrains, and secures for transport all in one stroke. As a kidnapper, why wouldn’t you do it that way?


Now, in cars built after 2002, there is a nice, glowing handle inside the trunk, so exit is easy, but you can be sure anyone in the abducting business won’t be using a car so equipped. This guide will show you how to get out of most car trunks you may find yourself crammed into. I’ve done this on a variety of cars, and shown many folks how to do it, as well, adults and kids. You can do it, and, I suggest you actually try it, with a pal around to let you out, just in case. Or, if you have folding rear seats, lower those so you have an escape route. It’s fun!

The first thing to keep in mind when you’re flung into a trunk is that you’re not going to suffocate in there. No cars are built tight enough for that. Next, you’ll want to orient yourself so your face and hands are facing the rear of the car. It’s okay if you can’t see, or have a burlap sack over your head— you mostly need to be able to do a bit of grabbing. It’s also good to remember that car trunks are made to be secure from the outside in— no car company is wasting money making a Houdini-proof trunk lid, especially from the inside.


How Trunk Locks Work

Most cars have an internal trunk release, and this is the key to a rapid exit. Almost all of these systems work the same, since there’s no real advantage for a car maker to have a totally proprietary trunk latch system. That kind of detail just doesn’t sell cars. The locks work on a simple hook-and-post principle. There’s a post or rod on the on the trunk lid, and a hook mechanism on the body catches it to keep the lid shut (the post or latch may be on the body or lid — either way works the same). When the trunk release is pulled, or the key is rotated in the lock, what happens is the hook is rotated so it is no longer engaging the post, and the trunk lid can be raised. The inside trunk release simply pulls a long cable connected to the hook so it’s free from the post — power systems do basically the same thing, but with a solenoid.

Get Your Bearings and Get Out

What you’ll want to do is feel around the inside of the trunk — by the rear hinges is a good place to start — for a stiff cable. This is actually a sheath for the inner cable, but very often tugging the whole thing back to the front of the car will pop the release. You may have to move carpet or pop off cardboard panels, but that release cable will be there, snaking from the hinge area, along the sides the trunk on the driver’s side, to the lock mechanism at the center of the rear face of the trunk lid. You may be able to get a better grip on it near the center of the lid where it connects to the lock assembly. It’ll be inside the trunk lid itself, between the outer skin and the inner metal structure. If you can grab it here, pull towards the driver side. In most cases, this will pop the release, then you can simply push up on the lid (after the release pops — otherwise, it’ll stick) and open the trunk.


Or, try this way out

If, somehow, this doesn’t work, or the kidnappers are such cheapskates they found a car with no internal release, you can still open the latch by finding the lock cylinder. It will be on the rear face of the trunk lid, on either side or in the center. The lock cylinder (again, it should be accessible through open areas of the sheet metal lid) will have a rod or similar connecting device to the latch mechanism. Grab this and pull side to side to see which way the lock pulls the rod to pop the latch.


Free at last!

That’s really all there is to it. Since many cars have a dash light to indicate an open trunk, I suggest feeling out the various parts first, and actually doing the deed only when you feel the car has stopped. Once the trunk is open, just get the hell out. Run, get off the road. If you’re quick and quiet, you can close the trunk and maybe even sneak away before they get to the organ farm or sex dungeon or wherever and realize you’re gone.


So there you go — now that you can get out of a car trunk, you’re that much closer to making your city’s kidnappers your own personal cab service. Enjoy.