How to Escape from the Trunk of a Car

It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to accidentally trap yourself in the trunk of a car. If you’re the only child of a diplomat or wealthy businessman, or if you’ve chosen to have dealings with less-than-desirable characters, you could find yourself locked in a trunk forcefully. Friends may play a practical joke on you - which isn’t very funny when you’re the one in the trunk.

If you end up trapped in the trunk of a car, there’s no immediate cause to panic. There’s plenty of air to breathe for quite some time, so collect your thoughts and find your way out. There are ways to escape that are simple, including one designed just for the purpose of exiting a closed trunk.

Method 1 of 3: Pull the emergency trunk release cable

Since 2001, vehicle manufacturers have been required to install an emergency interior trunk release handle in enclosed trunks. It’s designed specifically for this purpose as 11 children died from becoming locked in trunks the previous year. An extra trunk release cable is installed directly to the trunk latch. When activated, the trunk opens immediately.

Step 1: Locate the trunk latch. The most common location is at the joint of the trunk lid and the car’s body, right in the center.

The latch catches on a striker either recessed into the body or latched onto a metal bar. If the trunk is dark, you might have to locate the latch by feel instead of visually.

two fingers positioned to grab the t-handle for trunk release

Step 2: Follow the release cables to the emergency release. The release cables are attached to the latch assembly.

Using your fingers, trace the cables back to their handle. Usually, one will disappear into the car’s body for the interior trunk release handle while a second cable leads you to the emergency release.

If the trunk lid has a liner, you might not be able to access the cables. Feel around for a flat, T-shaped handle on the trunk lid or on the inner side of the fenders.

Step 3: Pull the emergency release. All it requires is a firm tug to open the trunk.

The handle is secured to the trunk lid with velcro or a clip. Just grab the handle, pull it, and the trunk lid will pop open.

Method 2 of 3: Break through the backseat

If your kidnappers have left you in a car trunk and abandoned the car and there is no emergency release, you can try to bust your way out through the backseat. It’s going to take some force and perseverance, but your survival could depend on it!

Step 1: Check for a back seat release handle. Some cars with fold-down rear seats have release handles mounted in the trunk area.

Look for a small release handle mounted under the back deck area, right below where the back window is located. If you find a handle, give it a firm pull. You might need to push on the seat to get it to fold.

Step 2: Locate a weak spot on the backseat. It may take a few tries to find the right spot to make your break for it.

If there’s no release handle, you’ll need to forcefully break through the seat. Look for gaps that let light shine through, or spaces between the seats.

If there’s a trunk pass-through in the middle of the seat, the plastic parts are relatively easy to bust up. Be careful, though: broken plastic is quite sharp.

Step 3: Brace yourself in the trunk with your feet pointed towards the seat back. Whether against the back of the trunk or the sides by the wheel wells, the trunk is solid.

Press your back against a firm surface for the best leverage when you begin kicking.

Step 4: Kick the backseat out. Kick as hard as you can to break the backseat.

Repeatedly kick the seat. When you hear cracking or breaking, you’ve probably found your exit point. Keep kicking at that spot until you break through.

Step 5: Crawl through the seat back. Make your break for it from the backseat, then run from the car.

Method 3 of 4: Break a tail light

If you can tell the car is in motion from the road noise and jostling over bumps, it’s best not to jump out of a moving car. You could wind up in the middle of the highway in busy traffic. You can get someone’s attention, however. And with just a little luck, they’ll contact the authorities to come help you.

Step 1: Break out a taillight. There’s one on each side just outside the trunk area, but mounted to the inside.

You might have to pull the trunk carpet back from the wheel well area to get access to the taillights. Just grip the edge of the carpet and pull hard.

Kick the tail light as hard as you can. You need to break all the way through to wave at other motorists and passersby. On some vehicles, the taillight is held in with just a couple plastic wingnuts. You can take these off by hand, and just push the light assembly outwards.

Step 2: Flag down assistance or yell for help. Make it well-known you need help to anyone within earshot or viewing distance.

Method 4 of 4: Use a tail light to signal distress

Using a tail light to signal distress works best at night but can be effective during the day as well.

Step 1: Locate the wires for one of the taillights. There are usually two or more wires going to each light assembly.

Cut through one wire with the raw edge of the trunk. This causes the light to stop functioning.

two wires tapping each other

Step 2: Tap the two ends of the wire together to make the light flash. Signal “SOS”, an international distress signal.

It’s three short flashes followed by three long flashes, then another three short flashes. Keep signalling SOS until help arrives.

Vehicle safety standards mean you’ll be able to get yourself out of a locked trunk as long as you can keep a clear head. If you’ve accidentally locked yourself in your own trunk somehow, try to minimize the amount of damage you cause. If you need to have your lights or wiring repaired afterward, have one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians perform an inspection.

Next Step

Schedule Rear lights are not working Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Rear lights are not working Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Rear lights are not working Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating


Rating Summary


26 years of experience
65 reviews
26 years of experience
Honda Pilot - Rear lights are not working - Austin, Texas
I am very happy with the service Bill provided. He was on time, kept me updated on his arrival. Once he arrived he got right to work. He fixed the issue with the vehicle quickly. He also provided a list of other repairs & maintenance that the vehicle needs. The next time I use I hope I'm able to secure William for the service call. Thank you for a convenient & satisfying experience!


16 years of experience
606 reviews
16 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata - Rear lights are not working - Atlanta, Georgia
Michael quickly diagnosed the issue with my car and repaired it within 20 minutes. I really appreciated the prompt and professional service.


21 years of experience
863 reviews
21 years of experience
Nissan Versa - Rear lights are not working - San Jose, California
Pardeep always does a great job. He is clever and thorough. He diagnosed my problem properly. I just have a few bulbs out, so I plan to do the work myself in this case.


18 years of experience
335 reviews
18 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Rear lights are not working - Kissimmee, Florida
Keith is amazing. He showed up early, he was very thorough and explained everything in detail. Unfortunately, my issue was electrical so I could not use Your Mechanic to fix it, but will definitely be calling Keith back out for all my other mechanical work.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Related articles

How Do I Prepare My Car for Winter?
Your Your car needs special care and attention during the cold months. To keep it running smoothly, follow these steps: Change your oil and oil filter regularly: Make sure you follow the recommendations as specified in your manual. You...
5 Essential Things to Know About Roadside Emergency Kits
Whether Whether it’s summer or winter, spring or fall – you should always have certain items available in your vehicle’s roadside emergency kit. Dead batteries, flat tires, and overheated engines can occur at any time. While most people have a...
What Are the Dangers of Driving a Vehicle With a Broken Suspension?
Every car, truck, and SUV has a suspension, the collection of parts that holds the car off the ground, cushions passengers and cargo from bumps,...

Related questions

What should I do if I lose control?

Losing control of your vehicle can be frightening to say the least. If your vehicle begins to skid, there are three types of skidding it could be: The “braking skid” in which the wheels will not be rolling The...

Turn signals and emergency flashers not working

This is most likely due to a blown fuse or because the device that flashes the lights has failed. The component that flashes the lights interrupts the electricity flow to the lights to make them flash. This "flasher" as it...

What do if I am stuck?

It is not uncommon for any vehicle to get stuck when driving through materials such as sand, mud, ice, or snow. If your vehicle does become stuck, there are two ways you may attempt to free your car yourself before...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 ·