Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Hatch Lock Cylinder

Hatch lock cylinders are a component that is found on vehicles equipped with rear hatches, such as hatchbacks, station wagons, and minivans. They serve the same purpose as regular door lock cylinders, as a mechanism to lock and unlock doors, however instead of in the door, they are in the hatch. The cylinder is attached to linkage rods that will mechanically lock and unlock the hatch when the key is inserted and turned.

While the hatch locks are not usually used as much as the driver door locks, they can still wear out and have problems. When they do they can interfere with opening and closing the hatch. Usually a bad or failing hatch lock cylinder will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

1. Lock cylinder will not turn

One of the most common symptoms of a bad hatch lock cylinder is a cylinder that will not turn when the key is inserted. If the hatch lock cylinder has any internal issues it may jam and remain stuck in the same position when the key is inserted. Forcibly turning the key may cause it to break off in the cylinder, which will require a new cylinder and key.

2. Wheel cylinder spins

Another symptom of an issue with the hatch lock cylinder is a cylinder that just spins when the key is inserted and turned. If the cylinder just spins when they key is turned then that is a sign that the cylinder’s teeth or linkage are not engaging properly. Usually a cylinder that spins will not be able to lock or unlock the hatch.

3. Cylinder will not accept key

Another, less common, symptom of an issue with the hatch lock cylinder is problems accepting the key. If a key, or some other object, breaks off or becomes lodged in the key slot it may interfere with inserting the key. A lock where the key cannot be inserted will not be able to lock or unlock the hatch.

Sometimes hatches with bad lock cylinders can still be locked and unlocked with the power locks from the interior of the vehicle, other times however they may render the trunk stuck closed. If you suspect that your vehicle is having an issue with the hatch lock cylinders have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the hatch lock cylinder should be replaced.


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