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How to Align a Trunk Lid

by Harvey Birdman

Aligning a car's trunk may seem like a trivial part of car maintenance but it is essential to prevent rust. If a trunk is not properly aligned, the seals around the edges will not sit properly and water may pool on the sides or even inside of the trunk. To properly align your trunk, you will need a pair of calipers and a wrench set. It is also helpful to have an assistant hold the trunk while you measure it and make adjustments.

Step 1

Turn off the car. Pop open the trunk by pulling on the trunk release button inside the cab of your car.

Step 2

Pull the trunk lid halfway up, and then have your assistant hold onto it while you reach inside the trunk and loosen the bolts on the supporting arms. There will be four bolts--two on each side. Do not remove the bolts--merely loosen them, because all you will be doing is changing the position by millimeters. There is a degree of play within the bolt holes because of the clearance between the bolt hole walls and the bolts themselves. Loosening the bolts will allow you to shift the bolts within the bolt holes.

Step 3

Lower the trunk lid, but do not let it engage the trunk latch. Have your assistant keep supporting it. Place calipers on the right side seam and measure the gap. Write this number down so you don't forget it. Measure the seam on the left side and compare the two numbers. They should be the same. If they are not, have your assistant shift the trunk lid until the numbers are the same.

Step 4

Measure the gaps at the front and back of each side, to ensure that the trunk lid is not slanted to one side or another. When it is properly aligned, have your assistant stay perfectly still. Access the inside of the trunk by folding the rear seats down and crawling inside the trunk. Tighten the left outer bolts and then the right inner bolt until they are snug but not tight--you are just trying to keep the lid in place for now. Tighten the bottom left bolt and then the right top bolt until they are all the way down, and then go back and tighten the first bolts all the way down.

Crawl out of the trunk, fold the seats back up and have your assistant close the trunk.

Items you will need

  • Caliper
  • Wrench set
  • Assistant

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