The trunk, or cargo area, of your vehicle likely gets used on a pretty regular basis. Whether for groceries, sports equipment, the dog, lumber on the weekend, or whatever - the trunk or tailgate lock mechanism is a frequently over-used “door” in your vehicle. The trunk lid, tailgate, or hatch locking mechanism is composed of a lock cylinder, a latching mechanism, and a striker plate – a passive component which the latching mechanism engages to ensure the door stays closed. This keeps your passengers and contents inside the vehicle as desired.
The striker plate absorbs some of the repetitive force when the trunk lid, tailgate or hatch is closed. The striker plate may include a round bar, opening or other passive connection which the latching mechanism engages to secure the door. The striker plate absorbs a great number of repetitive impacts as the door hinges wear out over time and bumpy road conditions allow the door, and the door latching mechanism, to slam against the striker plate. These repetitive impacts wear the striker plate, further increasing the shock and wear from each impact. There are a few symptoms indicating the striker plate is going bad or has failed:
1. “Door Open” warning comes on when the door is actually closed
Wear on the striker plate may be enough to allow micro-switches that detect when the trunk is “closed” to incorrectly register an open door. This may well be the first indication that the striker plate is worn enough to require replacement. The door may remain safely closed for now, but increasing wear is a safety concern.
2. Banging noise from the trunk lid, tailgate, or hatch when going over a bump or pothole
Trunk lids, like car doors, are cushioned by rubber gaskets, bumpers, and other shock absorption devices which allow a controlled amount of suspension, or “give” between the trunk and the rest of the vehicle structure when going over bumps or potholes. As trunk hinges and these shock absorption devices wear, the striker plate is also worn, potentially allowing the trunk lid, hatch, or tailgate to physically impact the vehicle body structure and create banging noises coming from the back when driving over bumps. This is excessive wear on the latch mechanism, a great safety concern.
3. Trunk lid, tailgate, or hatch comes open when going over a bump or pothole
This level of wear is clearly a safety issue, and the striker plate, and any other worn latching or hinge parts should be replaced by a professional mechanic immediately!
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