Subaru Outback Trunk Won’t Open – What To Do?

Imagine walking up to your Subaru Outback with your hands full of groceries. You managed to hit the button on your key fob to open the trunk. As you stealthily balance all of the bags on your hip, you reach out your free hand to open the trunk. Except it doesn't open.

What should you do next? Lucky for you, we have researched this very topic, so you are prepared if this happens to you. 

If you can't open your Subaru Outback hatch, there is a bigger problem going on. There are a few reasons why your trunk isn't opening. Here are some of the most common trunk opening issues for this vehicle model:

  • The battery is dead
  • The lock or latch is broken
  • Non-responsive key fob

You must figure out the underlying issue before you will be able to open your trunk from the outside again. 

You probably still have some questions about this topic. In the rest of the article, we explain each of these problems in more detail. In addition, we take a look at how to fix them so that you can access your trunk once again.

A Subaru Outback parked on the beach, Subaru Outback Trunk Won't Open - What To Do?

Why Won't My Subaru Outback Trunk Open? 

Now, let's look at the main reasons why your Subaru hatch doesn't open when you want it to. 

Problem: The Battery Is Dead

If you can't unlock the trunk or any other door automatically, the battery of your Subaru may be dead.

To confirm this is the problem, unlock your car manually from the driver's door. Then insert your key into the ignition. Turn your key to the first position. If the lights, radio, etc., do not work, your battery is dead.

If you have a 2013 or newer Subaru Outback, then you can't easily open your trunk anymore. These models no longer have a manual trunk lock. Older models sometimes have a lock where you can manually insert a key and open your trunk from the outside.

Either way, you need to fix your battery. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Subaru brand, check out this blog post: Where Are Subaru Cars Made? 

Solution: Charge The Battery

Car battery bypass

A dead battery is bad for many reasons. If you want to open your trunk or drive again automatically, you need to charge the battery. Call a friend or find a helpful stranger to help you jump your car.

Remember it is always a good idea to keep jumper cables in your car for emergencies like this. Once you jump-start your battery, make sure to drive for a bit to give the battery time to charge. 

If you have mechanical experience, try to figure out the underlying reason your battery died. Then fix it. Alternatively, you can take your car to an auto mechanic.

Getting a professional involved is always a good idea. They can accurately troubleshoot your battery problem, so you don't waste time and money guessing. 

If you want to investigate your battery on your own, read this blog post first: How To Check Car Battery Life [3 Simple Ways]

Problem: Broken Trunk Lock Or Latch 

If your car doors unlock using the key fob, your engine starts, and you hear a clicking sound when you try to open the trunk, then the trunk lock or latch is probably broken. This is not very common in Subaru Outbacks, but it can happen to anyone.

Driving on rough terrain and frequent opening and closing of your trunk may contribute to a broken lock. Some more symptoms of a faulty trunk lock are:

  • After the clicking sound, the trunk still doesn't open
  • The release button doesn't properly work
  • Nonstop clicking sound when trying to open trunk

Solution: Fix or Install A New Lock/Latch System 

A broken lock means you need to fix it or install a new one.

First, check the lock to make sure it is broken. To access the lock from the inside, you must remove a small plastic panel. Locate the panel, remove it, and inspect the lock to see if there is a problem. The latch may be sticking, or it may not work at all.

Once you confirm that the lock or latch is not functioning correctly, you need to remove the lock to determine what to do next. This is not a simple process. First, you have to remove the entire interior hatch panel. Then remove the lock and inspect it. 

Follow along with this video to learn how to remove the interior hatch panel:

If you know how to fix the lock, fix it and reinstall it. If you don't know how to fix it, you need to buy a new lock and install it. Of course, we highly recommend hiring a professional to solve this problem.

Without the proper training, you may break the lock or mess up the wiring of your Outback. Hatchback panels are tricky, and we don't want you to cause more damage. 

If you are wondering what precisely a hatchback car is, check out this blog post: What Is A Hatchback Car?

Problem: Non-Responsive Key FOB  

If you can't open your trunk or doors using your key FOB, but your car starts, then the problem is probably the key FOB itself. A key FOB can malfunction due to several reasons. Here are the main reasons your key FOB isn't working:

  • Dead key FOB battery
  • Internal wiring issue in key FOB or your car
  • The key FOB needs to be reset or reprogrammed 

For more information about key FOBs, read this blog post: Car Key Fob Not Working – What Could Be Wrong And How To Fix It.

Solution: Fix The Key FOB 

Once you determine the problem with the key FOB, you must fix it accordingly. Either replace the battery, repair the wiring issue, or reprogram your FOB. 

Here is a helpful video to show you how to reprogram your key FOB:

If none of these options work, you may have to buy a new key FOB. 

How Do I Manually Open My Subaru Outback Trunk?

If you have the key fob on your person, you can manually open your Subaru Outback hatch without having to press a button on the key.

First, unlock your car manually from the driver's side door. Then press the button underneath the Subaru emblem on your trunk. Now, the trunk will open without you pushing a button on the key.

Remember, if your battery is dead, this method does not work. 

How To Open Subaru Outback Trunk With Dead Battery?

A car mechanic uses battery jumper cables to charge a dead battery.

If your Subaru Outback battery dies, the only way to open the trunk is from the inside. Read the question below for instructions on how to do this. Alternatively, you can charge your battery and open your hatch normally.  

Can You Open A Subaru Outback Trunk From The Inside?

Yes, you can open a Subaru Outback trunk from the inside. First, fold down the back seat of your Subaru.

.Subaru Outback on the road

Then find the internal trunk handle/latch. It is located in the center of the tailgate behind the trunk lock. If you can't locate this panel, consult your owner's manual. A plastic panel covers it.

Keep in mind that this handle is for emergency purposes, so it is not meant for frequent use and may be challenging to access.

Next, remove this panel to access the trunk handle/lever. Once you get the panel off, pull up on the mechanism. Now, your trunk should open from the inside. 

Watch this video for a visual guide:

How Do You Reset The Trunk On A Subaru Outback?

Subaru Outback test drive day

The process to reset 2017 and newer Subaru Outback trunks is very simple.

First, manually open the hatch all the way to the top. Then, slowly shut it to the first latch. Do not slam it completely shut. Only the first latch needs to be activated. The motor will pull the door completely closed. Now, the trunk should be reset.

You can check by hitting the unlock button beneath the logo. If the reset worked, the trunk should automatically open to the top. 

Here is a helpful video to demonstrate this process:

Now You Can Open Your Subaru Outback Trunk! 

We know it's frustrating when anything malfunctions on your car. But, now that you know all about the potential trunk problems, you can stay calm and find a solution. Use this guide to make sure you never get locked out of the back of your Subaru Outback again. 

Share this article


  1. so my 2012 out back
    it got the hook from under the mat (the plastic hook that is used to hold the spare tire cover out the way to get out the jack)
    caught in the latch that’s close to the bumper now trunk is unresponsive
    it beeps with the key fob but it doesn’t make the latch sound
    I opened the access panel and pushed the lever manual too open it
    what is the fix what makes the motors kick in

  2. so my 2021 out back
    it got the hook from under the mat (the plastic hook that is used to hold the spare tire cover out the way to get out the jack)
    caught in the latch that’s close to the bumper now trunk is unresponsive
    it beeps with the key fob but it doesn’t make the latch sound
    I opened the access panel

  3. I have a 2005 Subaru Outback/Legacy. The hatchback automatically locks with the fob and the interior buttons, but will not unlock. The other doors will unlock and lock automatically. I don’t hear it trying to open, with the fob, but I hear it lock. What could be wrong. Is there an open fuse for the hatch back only? It doesn’t have a key hole that I’m aware of, in the hatch back area. Never seen one. I have opened it manually from the inside locking mechanism.
    I haven’t checked the fuse box for any blown fuses related to the hatchback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *