Subaru Outback Trunk Won t Open: Why and How To Fix It

Your Subaru Outback trunk wont open because there are several issues that are keeping it closed. This can be very frustrating, especially when you have your hands full and are struggling to open the trunk but it won’t budge.

Subaru Outback Trunk Won_t Open

Fortunately, we know some of the reasons and we’ll share them with you. We’ll also explain practical steps to fixing these problems and answer a few common questions about the Outback’s refusal to open.

What Are the Reasons the Outback Trunk Won’t Open?

The reasons your Subaru Outback trunk won’t open could be attributed to a failed latch, a damaged key fob, a dead car battery, or problems with the liftgate. Electrical problems and a broken dash switch can also hinder the work of the vehicle’s rear hatch.

All these problems have their solutions, which we’ll come to a bit later. Some solutions are quick fixes and less costly while others are expensive and labor-intensive.

– Problems With the Sensors of the Liftgate

This is the most common reason the trunk of the vehicle is jammed. The Outback operates a power liftgate that automatically opens when you press the key fob, a switch inside the vehicle, or the hatch itself. An older version of the vehicle may require you to unlock the car before you can operate the liftgate.

The power liftgate works via sensors that receive signals from the key fob/remote car starters or any of the means mentioned above and if the signals are blocked, then the liftgate won’t work.

– A Dead Flooded Cell or AGM Car Battery

All electrical components depend on the car battery to work, therefore, if the battery is dead, then all vehicular functions ceased and this includes the liftgate. The liftgate, as explained earlier, depends on the power generated by the battery to operate well.


However, if you’re making use of an older version of the Outback, you can still open the liftgate. This is because the trunks of those vehicles also have manual locks which can be undone.

– A Faulty Remote Car Starter or Dash Switch

Since the liftgate can be operated by a remote car starter, any fault with the fob can hinder the operation of the liftgate. Sometimes the fob may not be faulty; it could just be the case of a dead fob battery. When this happens, you can use the other means provided to operate the trunk. However, if the other means also fail, then the fob may not be the problem; you need to check other components associated with the trunk.

Subaru Outback Trunk Won_t Open Reasons

One of them is the switch on the dashboard near the steering wheel. This switch is meant to open the trunk when you’re seated at the wheel. However, it can’t do this when it is broken, thus you have to find a way to fix it.

– An Unresponsive Trunk Latch

A damaged trunk lock won’t respond to the signals for it to open regardless of the source of the signals. The latch/lock of the Outback could be damaged because of excessive pressure exerted on it during locking. Also, the frequent use of the trunk and constantly driving on an extremely bumpy road could result in the wear of the latch.

– Issues With the Components of the Car Electrical Circuit

The liftgate system operates via a system of wires, fuses, sensors, actuators, etc. Thus, if any of these wires and devices develop a fault, the system will fail to function. Though this is not common, the wiring system can become faulty due to a broken car battery or frequent usage. Repairing the wires and sensors may require resetting the entire system, which we’ll come to in a bit.

How To Fix the Jammed Trunk of Subaru Outback?

To fix the jammed trunk of your Subaru Outback, you can try fixing the sensors of the liftgate, using the jumpstart method to fire up the dead battery, repairing the faulty remote car starter, or fixing the faulty latch of the vehicle.

Now, that we’ve covered the major causes of a faulty liftgate, let’s discuss practical ways to solve the problems. Some of them might be simple but others are quite technical, however, if you follow the instructions carefully, you should be able to pull through.

– Fixing the Sensors of the Liftgate

If your sensor is not working well, then you may need to perform a Subaru Outback liftgate reset to enable it to function properly. To do this, manually open Subaru Outback trunk liftgate to its limit, close the trunk halfway, and press down the close button on the trunk gate. This should fix the problem and allow the liftgate to start functioning again. However, if this doesn’t work then try the next step.

Once again, open the liftgate manually to its limit and close it until it is almost shut, leaving a small space between the gate and the trunk. Doing this will allow the latch/lock to half-grab the liftgate and complete the closing process. If all these fail, then it’s time for a sensor change, therefore drive to the nearest Subaru outlet or call a mechanic.

You can manually unlock the trunk by entering the trunk through the front of the car and folding the back seats. You then locate a panel that covers the rear gate lock release handle at the bottom center of the trunk and remove the screws with the help of a flathead screwdriver. Now that the lock mechanism is bare, turn it to the right with the help of the screwdriver and the car’s trunk will pop open.

– Fixing a Flat Battery With the Jumpstart Method

When faced with this situation, you can either choose to purchase a new battery or have another vehicle jumpstart your car battery. To jumpstart your vehicle, you’ll need jumper cables and a car with a good battery (avoid electric cars or hybrids).

Fixation of Subaru Outback Trunk Won_t Open

Also, make sure neither of the batteries is broken, and take off any rings or other metals. Switch off all the devices in the car that run on battery like radio and lights and park the car with the good battery close to yours without them touching.

Now, open the hood and connect one end of your red jumper cable to the positive terminal of your flat battery. Next, connect the other end of your jumper cable to the positive terminal of your good battery. Connect one end of your black jumper cable to the negative terminal of your good battery and connect the other end to a part of the engine. Now start your car (with the dead battery) and if it refuses to start after a few attempts, then your problem is dire.

However, if your vehicle starts, then allow it to run for about 5 minutes then switch it off. Remove the negative jumper cable and restart the car. If it responds, remove the remainder of the jumper cables and your car is ready to hit the road.

– Repairing a Faulty Remote Car Starter Manually

First, you’ll need to determine what is causing the fob to falter; it could be a battery problem or worn-out wires. If it is a battery problem, then all you have to do is replace it and the fob will start working again. To change the battery, flip the fob over and locate a small silver tab at the back of the device. Push the silver tab and take out the mechanical key.

Next, place the key in the space between the back and front covers of the fob and gently twist it open. Take out the battery, which you’ll find near the transmitter circuit board, and replace it with a new one. Ensure that the correct side (the positive part) of the battery is facing up. Now, put the battery together and return the mechanical key to its original position.

However, if it is not a battery problem, we recommend you call the company for assistance. Otherwise, you can check the wires if there’s a loose connection or if any of them is faulty and fix them if you know what to do. You can also reprogram the fob when you’re sure that the problem is not with the battery or the wires.

– Fixing a Faulty Subaru Latch

Usually, when the latch is broken due to wear and tear or frequent driving on extremely bumpy terrain, you’ll have to purchase a new one. As described earlier, locate the latch in the bottom center of the trunk covered by a panel. Unscrew the panel and inspect the lock to determine whether it’s damaged or not. If it isn’t, then the fault is not from the latch, but if it is, then just replace it.

Subaru Outback Trunk Won_t Open Guide

How Can I Fix My Subaru Outback Trunk That Won’t Open?

If your Subaru Outback trunk won’t open, you might be frustrated. But fear not, there are ways to tackle this issue head-on. Begin by troubleshooting the keyless entry system and inspecting the latch. If the problem persists, consider checking the actuator or seek professional assistance. Remember, fixing a Honda Odyssey door won’t help you here, so focus on Subaru-specific solutions.


There are many reasons for the Subaru trunk not opening and we’ve highlighted the common ones in this guide.

Here is a summary of the major points made in this article:

  • The Outback may jam closed when the car battery is faulty, the liftgate has problems, the fob is damaged, or the latch is worn-out.
  • To fix a dead car battery, you can either choose to replace it or jumpstart the battery by connecting it via jumper cables to the live battery of another vehicle.
  • Fixing liftgate problems requires opening the trunk to its limit, closing it halfway and then pressing the close button on the gate of the trunk.
  • If the fob is damaged, you can replace the battery and if it’s still not working, then call the company for assistance.
  • When the latch is damaged, the only remedy is to remove the old one and replace it with a new lock.

If you try all these methods but the Subaru Outback trunk latch stuck, then drive to an auto shop for a professional to diagnose the problem and recommend a better solution.

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