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  • How to Open Your Toyota Prius Trunk (a.k.a Boot) When Your Battery is Dead

How to Open Your Toyota Prius Trunk (a.k.a Boot) When Your Battery is Dead

Updated on March 18, 2016

Joined: 4 years agoFollowers: 176Articles: 45
The Toyota Prius Owner's Manual makes opening the rear door from the inside look easy. It's not a simple two step process.
The Toyota Prius Owner's Manual makes opening the rear door from the inside look easy. It's not a simple two step process. | Source

It's bad enough that you got into your Toyota Prius, pressed the Power button and nothing happened. It's made infuriating when you discover that your trunk lid doesn't open because that little black button that pops it up is battery operated.

If you want to jump start your Toyota Prius with jumper cables, you DO NOT NEED TO OPEN THE REAR DOOR. Just like a regular car, there is a regular car battery under the hood. Open the hood, and you will find it under the black cover in the back, right corner. I've included a great video at the end of this article with step-by-step instructions to jump start your Prius.

However, if you are awaiting roadside service or a friend with a car and jumper cables and you need to get into the trunk in the meantime, this is the problem I will show you how to solve. You probably tried to consult your owner's manual and found easy looking instructions like those in the picture to the right. An easy two step process: 1) remove the cover and 2) pull the lever.

If you are reading this, you learned that 1) it's not an easy two steps process 2) there is nothing in your trunk that remotely resembles either of those diagrams and 3) it's not easy to get to the trunk when the rear door doesn't open.

Here's a photographic step-by-step guide to open your Prius trunk (a.k.a Boot, a.k.a Rear Door) when your battery is dead.

Step 1: Flip Down the Rear Seats

Push the button next to the seat belts on both rear seats and pull down the seat backs.
Push the button next to the seat belts on both rear seats and pull down the seat backs. | Source

To begin, you need access to your trunk from inside the car. Unless you are exceptionally small and Barbie doll thin, you will not fit through the narrow opening between the top of the rear seats and the inside of your roof. Of course, this is where small children can come in handy, but that's the subject for another article.

Press down on the button, and pull down the seat backs for both rear seats. You can now go caving into your Prius trunk in search of the Holy Grail: The Door Lever.

Step 2: Pull Back the Carpet to Expose the Tool Box

Pull back the carpet to expose access to the tool box.
Pull back the carpet to expose access to the tool box. | Source

Hopefully you are one of those rare individuals that doesn't actually store anything in their car trunk. If you are not, step 1a is to empty your trunk.

Once empty, you can pull back the carpet to expose the tool box. You are looking for the tiny fabric tab very near the rear door. Here's a zoomed in picture....

Step 3: Pull Back the Tool Box Lid

You need to pull the tiny fabric tab near the rear door to open the tool box.
You need to pull the tiny fabric tab near the rear door to open the tool box. | Source

Pull on that fabric tab to open the tool box lid. It should open easily, but If the lid resists you, take a breath. It's not trying to add to your already bad day, it's just locked.

To the left and right of the tab, respectively, are two locks. To unlock the tool box, the arrows on the locks should point to the side (left for the left side lock, right for the right side lock). If they point to your rear door, they are laughing at you and keeping your tool box lid locked.

Turn the two tool box locks to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. If the arrow points at your closed trunk lid, your tool box lid is locked.
Turn the two tool box locks to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. If the arrow points at your closed trunk lid, your tool box lid is locked. | Source

Step 4: Remove the Cover

There is a plastic cover in the tool box lining that protects access to the trunk lever. Remove it. This picture is with cover removed.
There is a plastic cover in the tool box lining that protects access to the trunk lever. Remove it. This picture is with cover removed. | Source

We have now join the owner's manual already in progress...you can now remove the plastic cover.

The tool box lining has a small plastic cover that protects access to The Door Lever. You can fairly easily pry it off. If it makes you feel better to express your increasing anger at this process, use a screwdriver and damn the owner's manual...pry that cover off and don't use a rag to protect it. It's a cheap piece of plastic whose sole purpose is to obscure access to the The Door Lever.

Personally, I threw my cover out. It was gratifying, and it will never again block my access to The Door Lever.

Step 5: Pull The Door Lever

Pull that silver, backward c-shaped lever toward you. The trunk door will pop open.
Pull that silver, backward c-shaped lever toward you. The trunk door will pop open. | Source

This is where the owner's manual writers were seriously smoking something. The manual makes it appear that 1) this lever is easy to find and 2) you can pull it up.

First of all, you are going to have to feel around for this lever. It's buried inside the rear door and, because you are already reaching through the tool box liner that is IN the body of your car, it is below your eye level. You head won't fit into the tool box to look the The Door Lever in the eye.

Second, the owner's manual arrow is drawn incorrectly. You couldn't possible pull that lever up from the position in which you are contorted. It defies physics.

Reach two fingers straight into the black abyss, once you feel this lever, pull it TOWARDS you. Voila! Trunk door pops open, you can push it up, and feel the freedom like Tim Robbins at the end of The Shawshank Redemption.

Finally, Relax.

Your trunk door is open. Take a breath. Lie in your trunk, enjoy the moment, drink that margarita. You still have to jump start your Prius.

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And Now...How to Jump Start Your Prius

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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Huh! I had no idea there was an issue with dead batteries and opening Prius trunks. Props on offering a clear solution!

    • MickiS profile image
      Author

      MickiS 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, well, I'm learning that these little lessons in life make for good Hubs!

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great read and explanation. You explained very well a fix that I am sure more than yourself would have got into.

    • MickiS profile image
      Author

      MickiS 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Based on talking to other Prius owners and the number of views I get from search, I'm guessing A LOT of Prius owners run into this problem. Thanks for the comment.

    • K Smith 4 years ago

      Thanks for the info. It worked like a charm.

    • Gopal 4 years ago

      But now my problem is not able to open the trunk using remote.

      What do you suggest. they changed the computer and dismantled everything twice to find the short circuit, if any, but couldn't figure out. What is the option now? Thanks

    • MickiS profile image
      Author

      MickiS 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Gopal, sorry, but I'm not a mechanic. And I certainly can't diagnose your issue from a brief online comment...after a mechanic has "dismantled everything twice."

    • hermanantonov profile image

      Herman Antonov 4 years ago from St. Paul, MN

      Thanks for this article! i own a Prius and live in Minnesota, today is super cold, bateery is dead, couldn't get into a trunk so had to follow your steps :) Finally started it anad listing it for sale tomorrow!

    • Nikki 3 years ago

      Technically, it's the back left. The drivers side is always the left side.

    • MickiS profile image
      Author

      MickiS 3 years ago from San Francisco

      It's the back left if you are sitting in the car, but since the point of reference for the battery door is standing in front of the car facing an open hood, it's on the reader's right.

      Btw, it's always on that side of the car, but that is not always the driver side. The driver side of the car is the right side of a car in 164 countries including Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, just to name a few.

    • kata 3 years ago

      what if the battery is so dead that even using a key wont unlock the car doors, thus you cannot gain entry into the vehicle at all????? how do you jump a locked prius with no entry into it, or to the hood!

    • Julia 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for all your help!

    • MickiS profile image
      Author

      MickiS 3 years ago from San Francisco

      You're welcome, Julia. Glad to be of service.

    • Malawi 3 years ago

      This looks like a 2004-2009 Prius.

      Just wanted to say that the battery is not located under the hood. You can jump-start it from the under the hood, but the battery itself is at the rear-right side. Beside the tool box lining, under a lid with a strap attached.

      BTW: Went here to check how to open the trunk to change my dead battery, thnx for the nice instructions. ;-)

    • Pat 3 years ago

      Thanks so much. What a challenge!

    • Terrence 3 years ago

      Thanks -- it worked! After many tries I first got it to open by charging the shorted out battery from under the hood. But then, after removing the battery, I closed the hatch gently, thinking the thickness of the jumper cables would keep it open. I was wrong. The mechanical lever was the only option left.

    • MUS 3 years ago

      Thank you very much for the helpful advice

    • mad hacker 2 years ago

      I keep a hide a key so I can get in if need be, The spare key is on the key bob unit

    • Confused owner 20 months ago

      My problem is the trunk won't open period. Pretty sure the battery is fine cause I don't have any trouble starting the car. With me, it just won't open. It's like the lock doesn't get a signal.

    • NL 15 months ago

      Your most helpful bit was: "Reach two fingers straight into the black abyss, once you feel this lever," That worked! Actually, at first it didn't because I was by myself, but then somewhere I read that you need 2 people, one inside & one outside, and that DID work! Thank you! (And it was so FUN, having to clean out the entire trunk through the middle seat opening!)

    • Barbara Dee 15 months ago

      Thank you, thank you. When we called the dealership for help, we were told to jump the 12V from the other battery to open the locked hatch. Well I followed your directions instead and had success. I'm 73 YO woman who climbed into the trunk via back seat and figured it out thanks to you. If I can do it anyone can! There's gotta be a better way Toyota!

    • Stephanie 13 months ago

      Do you mean pull the lever counter clockwise or towards you (front of the car)? If it's the front of the car, does it require some force?

      I'm trying to release the hatch as I have a piece of cloth stuck in the latch.

    • Big Al 11 months ago

      Worked like a charm. Thank you. The Service Manager at the dealer didn't have a clue--and then I went online.

    • Yu 11 months ago

      Great help! Thanks!!!

    • Steve 9 months ago

      So useful, Thank you for your advice, was able to open and am now charging the battery, hoping I can get started to make it to an Advanced Auto to replace the battery. If not I will try jump starting, and if that doesn't work will borrow the wrenches to take the battery in for a replacement. I had no idea there was a small battery in the car, this thing lasted 10 years!

    • Gary M 8 months ago

      We would never have been able to open the hatch without your article. Battery seemed dead but as soon as the hatch opened everything came back on and off we went. Somehow the hatch in the closed position shorted out the system.

    • Steve, Manchester, UK 6 months ago

      Thanks a lot. I never knew there was a battery under the hood. Now I can jumpstart without being a contortionist.

    • Thanks a lot for your help 6 months ago

      I like your style

    • Fran S. 2 months ago

      I couldn't find any thing in there that moved at all, let alone a backwards C. This is a 2011 Prius, would it be different?

    • Brnard 2 weeks ago

      Just like a regular car, there is a regular car battery under the hood.

      Nope, the battery is in the trunk you are trying to acces in your tutorial...

      ; )

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